Each year, March 2 marks a special day for those in the Lone Star State, as both Texas Independence Day and general Sam Houston’s birthday are ceremoniously celebrated in home sweet Huntsville.
“With Sam Houston State University’s help, the ROTC Military Science department, Sam Houston Memorial Museum, the Sam Houston Statue Visitor Center and the city of Huntsville, we all come together every year to do this celebration,” said James Patton, a member of the Walker County Historical Commission.
2021 will mark the 40th Texas Independence Day sponsored by the Walker County Historical Commission. Due to the pandemic, the day’s events will be slightly scaled-down compared to years past, however, the traditional ceremonies that have drawn attention from across the state will still proceed under safe guidelines.
The day will kick off with a coffee reception at the Walker County Museum: Gibbs-Powell House at 9:15 a.m., while members of Sam Houston State University follow the ROTC as they make their traditional march from Old Main Pit down to Sam Houston’s gravesite at Oakwood Cemetery.
Guests will meet at the gravesite at 11 a.m. to celebrate the life of Sam Houston and his great contributions to the state of Texas on his birthday. The Texas general’s descendants will lay the ceremonial wreaths at Houston’s grave and enjoying the words of a group of exciting speakers. This year’s featured speaker will be Michael Wilson, a seventh-generation Texas native, who is a member of the Sons of the Republic of Texas and the Lone Star Volunteers, followed by the much anticipated “Baptized a Texan” ceremony.
As a tradition for many years now, members of the community and tourists who were not born at Texan will kneel in front of Sam Houston’s grave as a their foreheads are dotted with pond water by Patton. Baptized participants will walk away with a commemorative gift bag from the City of Huntsville Tourism Department.
After the ceremony, a catered luncheon at the Sam Houston Statue Visitor Center will be available to those that RSVP, followed by the “Toast to Texas” outside of the statue to conclude the day’s events.
“It’s a pretty full day, but it’s a lot of fun,” Patton added.
In the case of inclement weather, the gravesite ceremony will instead take place at 11 a.m. at the SHSU Natural History Museum, located at 2405 Avenue I in Huntsville.