3523 Battleground Road
La Porte TX. 77571
April 2004–the years, the United States has seen many faces of people who come and go from here to there, moving from one place to the other, leaving their history in the streets, in the houses, and everywhere in the cities. All these people whether they are from this country or not, have contributed to its changes. These people have left their histories engraved everywhere, and these histories are made up of prints, they are a legacy of memories in this and many other lands. One of the most beautiful prints that history left to remember is the variety of artifacts from museums and museums themselves. They constitute a part of our past that continues living in our present because of their presence in the actuality or in the world of today.
There is one museum especially that makes me feel the history of Texas around me and reminds me of my country Mexico at the same time. This museum is a high tower with a big star at the very top of it symbolizing the lone star of Texas , which makes the tower look higher than it really is; this tower is the San Jacinto Monument , built to commemorate all those who fought for Texas ’s independence from Mexico back in the 1800’s. When I visited the museum for the first time, I remember how this monument looked from the freeway, opaque; I was not able to appreciate the monument’s beauty until I got closer. All around the tower is green and it smells fresh since there is a park with a huge lake next to it nearly. In the middle of this park, a road takes you directly to the tower. However, the bad news is that you have to climb stairs in order to enter the base of the San Jacinto Monument .
When I came to Houston for the first time, the San Jacinto Monument was the first museum I visited. I was very amazed, my head just could not stop going up looking at the height of that monument. I had never seen a tower of that height in all my life well, that is probably because I am from a small Mexican town where there are no big buildings and even the few two-story buildings are rare there. So imagine how impressed I was when I discovered this tower which is the tallest monument in the world; it is 570 feet tall and is 12 feet taller than the WashingtonMonument.
Inside of this tower, there is history left everywhere. It feels like you are living in another epoch. There are thousands of artifacts from different wars, including the Mexican war in Texas , which is the war that this monument commemorates. The purpose of this war was to give Texas its independence from Mexico and make it part of the United States . General Sam Houston, leader of the U.S. military, fought against General Antonio Lopez de Santa Ana. Santa Ana lost Texas in the battle of San Jacinto, and it became an independent Republic in 1836, which later joined the United States.
When you enter the tower, the first thing you see is an elevator that takes you to the star located at the highest point of the tower. The elevator takes a little while to go up, which is reasonable since it has to go very high. When the elevator stops, there is a little room in the star from where people can see the park and its connection with the lake where the battleship Texas poses and rests. The park, the monument, and the Battleship Texas form the San Jacinto Battleground Historical State Park . Besides the elevator, there is a museum on the first floor, which is not like other museums. This museum exposes objects of different wars of the United States and other things related to that subject. There are rifles, weapons, jewelry from the rich people of those times, and documents such as letters and contracts, etc.
Every other month I visit the monument and it has changed since the first time I was there; it is being renovated and looks better all the time. They are improving the monument’s facade from the outside. Architects know that the monument’s height and beauty are the first things that catch people’s attention, those details make people wonder what is inside the tower and motivates them to enter and discover it, and in fact, that is how my family and I discovered this place.
The San Jacinto Monument is always full of curious people who want to know more about history; well, at least that is what their faces express to me when I see them looking around with interest. Although this is a museum, this is a place that everyone can visit even if they are interested in knowing more about Texas’s history or not. Most of the people I have seen there are families, students, and tourists relaxing, having fun, and learning something about Texas all at the same time.
Once when I was visiting the tower with my family, an American soldier’s uniform caught my attention. When I saw it, it was like a flashback that made me remember my History teacher, Dr. John Moretta. A few weeks before he had lectured the class about the terrible things that happened during the Civil War of the United States and how many deaths this war brought. He told his class that after the Civil War, there were some conflicts between the North and the South of the United States because the South wanted to continue having slaves (slavery was the issue that caused a rebellion and consequently the civil war) and the North wanted to abolish slavery. Dr. Moretta mentioned that some North Americans waved bloody uniforms of dead soldiers to show how many misfortunes and deaths this war brought and to claim that those deaths should be worth it by abolishing slavery once and for all.
When I saw that uniform, I imagined how much pain it must have caused this nation to lose many lives, all at the same time. I thought about how that soldier’s uniform is now a symbol of pride and respect. When wars occur, they just bring disasters and leave disasters. Holding that thought, I started looking at some other artifacts in the museum and while I was engaged in the history, I saw an old friend walking in. I waved at her and she came to talk. She has been a family friend since we came to Houston . I asked her what was she doing there; I asked her this question because she is not the kind of person who likes history. She told me that the museum made her remember her brother very much. Her brother was in Iraq and she did not know when he was going to come back. We spent a while talking about her brother and the current issue in this country which is the war of Iraq . I really didn’t know what the causes of this war were but I felt strongly against it since its beginning because all wars are equal to deaths and unhappiness.
It was six o’clock, it was getting late, and it was time for me to go home because the museum was going to close, so I told my friend good-bye. I had a long drive, since I live in Houston and the museum is in La Porte. While driving home, I thought about how many people can visit the museum and inevitably think about something or someone related to the war. It is a feeling and an experience that anyone can feel by visiting this museum, it does not matter where people are from, wars are a universal thing.
Although I am Mexican and I don’t like wars, I visit the San Jacinto Monument because I can imagine how my country felt under the dictatorship of Antonio Lopez de Santa Ana and how Mexicans were oppressed by his rule and government. Mexicans fought Santa Ana many times but General Houston was the one who finally beat him. I do not celebrate the U.S. victory over Mexico by visiting the San Jacinto Monument . The fact Texas is now part of the United States is not a victory, the real victory for me is the fact that by taking Texas off from Mexico the U.S. also ended up with a dictatorship and as a result my country was liberated from the rule of Santa Ana . Even though it was not the purpose of this battle, the U.S. helped Mexico in some way but at a high price, which was the whole Texas . The legacy of the battle of San Jacinto are the generations of Mexican Americans proud of being part of both countries, a Mexican country emerging with a new government, and Texas emerging with a new population and a new culture from which I am now part of.