Sunday, October 25, 2009

Texas State Cemetery

With the exception of Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia, you’d be hard pressed to find a more historical, better preserved cemetery than the Texas State Cemetery in Austin. But such wasn’t always the case.

Despite its rich history, by the early 1990’s, the cemetery had become deplorable. It was vandal-ridden and unkept. Bob Bullock, who was then the Texas Lt. Governor, stepped up to the task and began an extensive multi-year restoration of the cemetery. To see it today, you would think it has been lovingly taken care of since its inception.

The cemetery has been around since the early 1850’s. After the American Civil War, Confederate military veterans and their wives were buried in the cemetery in great numbers. Today, there are over 2,000 Confederate veterans and their widows buried in a special section of the cemetery.

The cemetery is a peaceful and tranquil place, with many trees, and an abundance of water. And unique to this cemetery, is the fact that a Texas state highway, State Highway 165, runs right through the middle of the cemetery, lined on both sides of the road with flags of the State of Texas. It is less than a mile long, the speed limit is very slow, and it is locked down at night, along with the cemetery.

The famous people buried in the cemetery are a very long and impressive list. From Stephen F. Austin, an early Texan and the first Secretary of State for the Republic of Texas, the historical roll call includes, Confederate General Albert Sydney Johnston killed at the Battle of Shiloh; African-American Hall of Fame baseball player, Willie James Wells (“El Diablo”); Barbara Jordan, the first African-American woman from a Southern state to serve in the U.S. House of Representatives; and, John Connally, Governor of Texas, and later, Secretary of the Treasury of the United States, who was shot in November 1963 in the presidential limousine with John F. Kennedy in Dallas. Tom Landry, the successful Dallas Cowboys football coach, famous for his winning record and that special hat he wore, while interred in Dallas, is honored with a cenotaph.

The cemetery is also the final resting place for many Governors and Lt. Governors of Texas, U.S. Senators, members of the U.S. House of Representatives, Texas Rangers, and, several Texas Medal of Honor recipients.

Additionally, there is a monument to recognize World War II military veterans of the "Greatest Generation" and a monument for military veterans of Vietnam and Southeast Asia, recognizing the sacrifice of this country’s military members during that very long, unpopular, and difficult war, which ended in 1975.

The most important grave and monument in the cemetery, in my estimation, is that of Lt. Governor, Bob Bullock, who saved this historic cemetery from neglect and oblivion.

May God Bless Bob Bullock, and all the souls resting in the Texas State Cemetery.

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