HUNTSVILLE (CBSDFW.COM) – As drivers travel south on Interstate-45 to Houston, they will likely pass through the city of Huntsville. They may see Texas state prisons on the left and right side of the road.
But as they leave the city, there’s the one image that Huntsville wants people to remember. It’s on the east side of Interstate-45 and hard to miss. It’s dubbed “Big Sam.” The formal name is “A Tribute To Courage.”
The tribute is a giant statue of Sam Houston. And true to Texas form, this creation is colossal. The statue of Sam Houston stands 67 feet tall on a 10-foot granite base. The Huntsville Visitors Bureau website proclaims it as the world’s tallest statue of an American hero.
According to the website, “Big Sam” was created by David Adickes. The artist is still alive and working at the age of 86.
Adickes needed 30 tons of concrete and two years to work on the project. The statue was dedicated in October 1994. Every year, between 50,000 and 65,000 people visit the huge tribute.
This story isn’t just about a statue. It is about a Texas hero. Sam Houston died 150 years ago on Friday, at the age of 70.
Several events are planned for Friday and Saturday at the Sam Houston Memorial Museum, which is part of Sam Houston State University in Huntsville. On Saturday, a tribute called “The Honor Of Memory” will be held at the Steamboat House on museum property. That is the house where Houston died in 1863.
Houston’s life and legacy includes being a member of the U.S. House of Representatives from Tennessee. He was later elected Governor of Tennessee in 1827. Sam Houston would first enter Texas in 1832 and he was named a Major General in the Texas Army three years later.
In April 1836, he led the attack and defeated Santa Anna’s army at the Battle of San Jacinto. Five months later, he was elected President of the Republic of Texas. It was an office that he would hold for two years in order to stabilize the Republic.
In 1846, Houston was selected to serve as a U.S. Senator from Texas. He would be elected three times. In later years, the family moved to Huntsville, where Houston lived for less than year before dying from pneumonia.
Now, 150 years later, his Texas-sized legacy lives on in the city of Huntsville, while “Big Sam” looks over drivers and tourists on Interstate-45.
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