Saturday, July 22, 2006

Texas by the turn signal light: Day 4

History is where you find it … usually in the middle of nowhere
The state of Texas is about to do something incredibly moronic and terribly damaging to our heritage and history. It is about to continue with the deep cuts in funding of its state parks, already at a criminally-low level.
One only need visit places such as Goliad State Park to see how important it should be in Austin to retain and improve the people’s property (which is what a state park REALLY is, isn’t it?) and to do everything possible to advertise the many historical sites as an important educational tool.
Goliad, for those who don’t know (and if you live in Texas, shame on you for not knowing) is one of the four most important historic sites in all of Texas independence (the Alamo, San Jacinto, Washington-on-the-Brazos).
And here’s the capsulated history (courtesy of a wonderful Web site – the Handbook of Texas Online;
The Goliad Massacre of 1836 is considered to have been the most infamous episode in the Texas Revolution and revealed Santa Anna to be evil and blood-thirsty, rather than any kind of clever or cunning leader.
It is not on the same level in terms of memory at the Alamo, the tragic outcome galvanized the resistance against Santa Anna and Mexican occupation of Texas. The battle cry of “Remember the Alamo! Remember Goliad!” rallied Sam Houston’s forces at San Jacinto to defeat Santa Anna is just 18 minutes and secure independence for Texas.
James W. Fannin Jr. was the commander at the Goliad outpost, sent there from the Alamo. The Battle of Coleto Creek happened March 19-20 as Fannin occupied the Nuestra Señora de Loreto Presidio at LaBahia, known as Fort Defiance by the Texicans.
However, badly outnumbered and not wishing to waste their lives, Fannin ordered the surrender of the garrison to the Mexican troops, hoping for humane treatment as prisoners. Their conditions for surrender were put in writing and, so they thought, accepted.
However, under approval of his government, Santa Anna’s main army took no prisoners. It fell to Gen. José de Urrea, commander of Santa Anna’s right wing, to fulfill Santa Anna’s orders.
Come sunrise on Palm Sunday, March 27, 1836, the Texans who were not wounded (estimated as many as 400) were formed into three groups under heavy guard, marched away from the presidio and – without warning – were gunned down by firing squads.
Fannin, wounded earlier in the battle and 40 others, were killed in the presidio itself.
The bodies were then burned and left to be ravaged by the wind, rain, coyotes and vultures. On June 3, 1836, Gen. Thomas J. Rusk, headquartered in Victoria, passed through Goliad in pursuit of Gen. Vicente Filisola’s retreating army. Rusk gathered the remains and buried them with military honors. Some of the few survivors attended the ceremony.
In 1936, as part of the Texas Centennial, a massive pink granite monument was announced and finally erected, dedicated on June 4, 1938, at its site near Goliad.

The state park itself is clean with modern looking cabins (compared to some of the shacks in east Texas), sitting on the banks of the San Antonio River. There are picnic areas, camping area, hiking trails and plenty of native birds to the river region to see.
The park also houses an excellent museum inside the Mission Espiritu Santo – the local landmark.
The Presidio LaBahia, an active part of the Catholic Church (separate admission from the state park) is just down the road, along with the formal Fannin Memorial (a massive structure compared to the gravesites of other U.S. presidents) and the birthplace of Gen. Ignacio Seguin Zaragoza, the Mexican general who led his troops to victory at the Battle of Puebla, for which Cinco de Mayo is celebrated.
The Fannin Battleground is nine miles west of Goliad on U.S. 59 and the Mission Nuestra Senora del Rosario is in between.
Even downtown Goliad maintains a historic feel with a nice, quaint courthouse square, populated by antique shops and restaurants.
Everywhere you look, there lies history – important history that people need to be able to maintain constant touch and availability. It is horribly sad to think that the San Jacinto Monument could close for lack of funding from a stingy legislature and it supporters who have no sense of history and put the amount of a single tax bill above all else.
Vigilant support of our parks system must be maintained – because, unlike other faux excuses, this IS for our children, grandchildren and all future generations.

1 comment:

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