‘March to Grave’ honors founder Gen. Sam Houston with century-old SHSU tradition

“The Measure of a Life is its Service.”

These words are the motto of Sam Houston State University, a university named after one of Texas’s greatest heroes—Sam Houston, the perfect embodiment of this motto. In honor of his legacy, Sam Houston State University is hosting the “March to the Grave,” an SHSU tradition that has been around since 1893. This traditional event is a celebration of Sam Houston’s birthday and Texas Independence Day.

The march will begin at 10 a.m. on March 2 at Old Main Pit. Different organizations from campus will be attending the event, such as the SHSU ROTC Color Guard and Rifle Team, the Bearkat History Club, the Department of Student Activities and various faculty, staff and students of SHSU. About 10 to 15 minutes after meeting up at Old Main Pit, the march will begin from campus, down University Avenue all the way to Oakwood Cemetery, the gravesite of Sam Houston. In case of inclement weather, the ceremony will be held in the meeting room at Mance Park Middle School.
Sam Houston was born March 2, 1793 in Rockbridge County, Virginia. He led a very influential life; before moving to Texas, he served in the United States military during the War of 1812 and later became governor of Tennessee in 1827. Later in his life, Sam Houston moved to Texas where he served as Major General during the Texas Revolution. He was a key figure in the important battle of San Jacinto in which the Texas Army defeated Santa Anna and gained independence for Texas.

Upon the creation of the Republic of Texas, Sam Houston was elected as the first president. Following his first term, he was succeeded by Mirabeau Lamar as president of Texas. He would return as the third president of Texas and was then succeeded by the last president of Texas, Anson Jones. Texas joined the United States in 1845, the same year Sam Houston was elected as senator; he would also later become Governor of Texas in 1859. In 1861, he was evicted from his office as governor for refusing to take an oath of loyalty to the Confederacy. Sam Houston died on July 26, 1863 and was buried in Huntsville.

“The last several years the March to the Grave has lost focus a little bit towards the involvement on campus,” Director of Student Activities Brandon Cooper said. “The department of student activities is trying to put funds and efforts towards that to gain more participation with students and faculty staff to ramp up what is a great tradition.”

Various organizations and guest speakers will be there. The featured speaker this year is Charlie Rhodarmer, the Director of the Sequoyah Birthplace Museum in Vonore, Tennessee. Other honored guests will include descendants of Gen. and Mrs. Sam Houston as well as David Crockett, the third-great-grandson of the legendary David “Davy” Crockett.

“I feel that this tradition is important because it is a great way to honor and celebrate the man Sam Houston, our namesake and our history,” Cooper said.

Events are planned all day for the celebration. A luncheon will be held at 12:30 p.m. at the W.S. Gibbs Conference Hall. At 2 p.m., the celebration will continue at the Sam Houston Statue and Visitors Center with a “Toast to Texas.” The “Toast to Texas” will include birthday cake as well as a Cherokee Land Ceremony performed by Rhodarmer in conjunction with members of the Texas Army.

The event is open to everyone.

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