San Jacinto Monument

San Jacinto Monument and Battleground is a National Historic Landmark that commemorates the April 21, 1836, battle in which Texas troops led by General Sam Houston defeated the Mexican Army led by General Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna. This pivotal battle, which immortalized the phrase “Remember the Alamo!” led to the independence of Texas. At the time, the territory we know as Texas was a province of Mexico, and the battle was of great national significance for the history of the state and the country.

The San Jacinto Monument and Museum showcases this history, including the little known fact that at the time Texans preferred being referred to as Texians. Additionally, the Texan battle cry was actually “Remember Goliad! Remember the Alamo!” Goliad refers to the massacre of another group of Texan rebels in the town of the same name a few months earlier. The Texan men had surrendered under a white flag, and all but a handful were executed while in captivity. The Alamo, of course, is a much more famous battle that occurred in what is now San Antonio. It also occurred a few months earlier with the result of all but two of the Texan defenders being killed.

The park where the San Jacinto Monument and Museum are located is an extensive state park where the Battleship Texas is also berthed. In 1948, this historic ship became the first of the battleship museums in the United States. The Battleship Texas was commissioned in 1912, and in 1914 was sent to Mexican waters in response to the Veracruz Incident, one of a series of incidents between the United States and Mexico that occurred during the Mexican Revolution. At the time, the ship was the most powerful weapon in the world. Enhancements to the ship continued for several years, and she served with distinction during World War I. During World War II, she provided support for the Allied landing on Morocco and fired on German gun emplacements during the D-Day landing on Normandy. She then moved to the Pacific, and participated in sea battles at Iwo Jima and Okinawa.

The San Jacinto Monument was built between 1936 and 1939, and is an obelisk more than 567 feet tall. It is topped with a Lone Star (the symbol of Texas) that is 34 feet tall and weighs about 220 tons. There is an apocryphal myth prevalent among Texans that there is a law stating no building can be taller than the Washington Monument, which is twelve feet shorter than the San Jacinto Monument, and that Texans (who like to be the biggest) solved the problem by topping their monument with the Lone Star. There is, in fact, no such law. But Texas children learn the story nonetheless.

It is possible to enjoy tours of the San Jacinto Monument and Museum as well as the Battleship Texas during a single trip to the park. You can take an elevator (or walk the stairs) to the monument’s observation platform for wonderful scenic views of beautiful Galveston Bay and the city of Houston. There is a large reflecting pool in front of the monument. The museum that chronicles the history of the battle is located in the monument base. Since 1919, there has been a popular restaurant on the tip of the park that juts into the bay. It has been closed periodically and has changed its name over the nearly 100 years it has been there, but it has been open for most of the time. Visitors enjoy dining on traditional seafood dishes here. There are walking paths and picnic tables on the grounds of the park.

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