SHSU Students and Huntsville community members trekked from the Old Main Pit on campus to Sam Houston’s grave site in Oakwood Cemetery at 10 a.m. Thursday morning in the annual March 2 the Grave event.
Led by the SHSU ROTC cadets, participants marched through the streets of downtown Huntsville for just over a mile.
The march is part of a 134 years old tradition to honor Houston’s birthday and Texas Independence Day, according to the SHSU website. The Newton Gresham Library Archives and Special Collections says it was started in 1889 by SHSU students, faculty and staff.
Upholding Houston’s legacy was the main thing on SHSU Junior and ROTC Color Guard Non-Commissioned Officer In Charge and 21 Gun Salute Team Officer In Charge Emily Slott’s mind during the march, aside from staying in step.
“It’s a really big deal since it’s Sam Houston’s birthday,” she said. “There’s a lot of people at the event, so you want to be there. You want to show up, support the university, support your program and do the best that you can.”
Slott said she puts her best face on and focuses on representing her program, the university, and Sam Houston with pride.
“We’re named after him. He was a general within the army, he was fighting in the war, he was one of the original founders of Texas,” she said. “He’s done so much for us.”
Following the march, the SHSU Bearkat Battalion kicked off the graveside ceremony with a posting of colors. The ceremony speakers included SHSU President Dr. Alicia White, SHSU Student Government President Joseph Chavez, representatives from the Alabama-Coushatta Tribe of Texas Donnis Battise and Principle Chief Mikko Kanicu, and keynote speaker Dr. Gregg Dimmick.
“My favorite part of the event definitely comes when one of the representatives of Texas starts talking about Sam Houston’s past and his history and they go really in depth about how he loved his family, how he loved Texas,” says SHSU Alum Shelby Teal.
The service also included the Baptized Texan Ceremony. Hearing the participants’ stories, their impact on their communities and why they love Texas is another one of Teal’s favorite parts, she said.
“As a Texan myself, it’s really moving to see other people that come to Texas really excited to join the community and be involved and help where they can,” Teal said.
After the speakers and baptisms, Houston’s descendants and SHSU Student Government members showed respect in the Laying of Wreaths before guests rose to sing “Texas Our Texas.”
Attendees remained standing through a 21 Gun Salute by the Bearkat Battalion, a performance of Taps, and the retirement of colors.