September 3, 2009

Sam Houston Statue - Huntsville, TX

Anna and I left the prison museum and decided to go see the giant statue of Sam Houston, commonly known as "Big Sam." Of course, we should have taken into account our inability to navigate. She and I have an amazing ability to get lost no matter where we are and no matter where we're going. This led to our discovery of Homeland Security in Houston and our brief visit to a Texas prison in Hunstville. Yes, Anna and I technically went to prison. We were trying to find the guest center for the statue when we pulled into a parking lot. We then noticed the large fences with barbed wire. And the sign indicating we had just made a big mistake. We promptly freaked out (who wouldn't after learning about what really goes on in a Texas prison for the last hour?) But we escaped quickly and got our bearings. Eventually, we found the welcome center and it looks nothing like a prison.

Big Sam is actually named A Tribute to Courage by David Adickes. Sam is 67 feet tall, made from 30 tons of concrete and steel and stands on a 10 foot sunset granite base. That makes him the world's tallest statue of an American hero. Although comparatively, he really isn't that tall. Not counting its pedestal and foundation, the Statue of Liberty is 151 feet tall - taller than two Big Sam's standing on top of each other. Still, its an impressive site. Big Sam can be seen for 6.5 miles from the south.

For those unfamiliar with American or Texas history, Sam Houston was an important figure during the Civil War. He was opposed to Texas seceding from the Union and was removed as governor when Texas did secede and he refused to swear and oath of allegiance to the Confederacy. He was a leader of the Texas Revolution and eventually supported the annexation of Texas into the United States. Some interesting things to know about him include that he was the only man in American History to be elected governor of two states (Tennessee and Texas) and he was a citizen of four nations (United States, Cherokee, Mexico, Texas.)

A Tribute to Courage was originally intended to be finished by March 2, 1993 for Sam Houston's 200th birthday. But the colossal nature of the project took longer to complete then expected so the final statue was not dedicated until 1994. Given the sheer size of the honor, I doubt Sam Houston minded the extra time needed.


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