Yearly traditional walk to grave draws crowd, rain or shine

The 120-year-old tradition will continue on Thursday March 2, when the Sam Houston State University history department and the Walter P. Webb Historical Society will celebrate Gen. Sam Houston’s birthday, as well as Texas Independence Day, with a March to the Grave.

Approximately 100 history students, a squad from the Army ROTC carrying flags and others including university President James F. Gaertner and his wife, Nancy, and several administrators, will meet behind Austin Hall between 10:15-10:30 a.m. to march north on University Avenue, to Sam Houston’s gravesite.

There, Huntsville County Clerk and director of the Historical Commission James Patton will lead the ceremony that will include James Haley, author of Gen. Sam Houston’s biography, telling Houston’s story and the ROTC firing a 21-gun salute.

Following the ceremony, participants can share in the birthday fun with a cake provided by the Office of Student Activities in the Lowman Student Center mall area.

Rain or shine, the march will still take place, as participants found out last year, but the ceremony will be held at Mance Park Middle School in the event of rain, said Caroline Crimm, associate professor of history.

“We never give up,” she said, adding that they called themselves the “Garbage Bag Brigade” because of their rain-repelling attire.

The march to Sam Houston’s grave began in 1889, on the 10th anniversary of the founding of Sam Houston Normal Institute.

After the parade was discontinued in 1932, due to the depression, the Webb History Society restarted the tradition with six students and one lonely flag in 2001.

Following the march, the Sam Houston Memorial Museum and some of Houston’s descendants will celebrate the day, as well as the grand opening of the renovated museum, with a luncheon at First Christian Church.

Lunch will be served beginning at 12:30 p.m. for $15.

Afterward, participants can have birthday cake at 2 p.m. when the grand opening ceremony and ribbon cutting will take place at the museum.

For more information, call Crimm at (936) 294.1475.

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