Annual March To Celebrate Houston’s Birthday

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Bearkats will celebrate Sam Houston’s 224th tomorrow with the annual march to his grave hosted by the Walker County Historical Commission, the Sam Houston Memorial Museum and the Sam Houston Statue and Visitors Center. The event celebrates the birthday of the university’s namesake as well as Texas Independence Day.

Since the early 1900s, Bearkats have gathered and marched to Sam Houston’s grave. At 10 a.m., the traditional march to Sam Houston’s gravesite at Oakwood Cemetery will begin at Austin Hall and be led by the SHSU ROTC and students.

A ceremony will take place at 11 a.m. to honor Sam Houston.

Denton Florian, Executive Director of the Sam Houston Project, will be this year’s featured speaker.

He is a native Texan and graduate of both the University of Texas and Texas State University.

Florian organized and led the team that produced the documentary, ‘Sam Houston’, which won five EMMY Awards. The film, the website, and the assets represent the largest collection of digital information on Sam Houston’s life that has ever been assembled. From his research, he will speak about Sam Houston’s importance.

Also included in the ceremony is the “Baptized Texan Ceremony,” where non-native Texans will gain their Lone Star status.

Wrapping up the festivities will be the “Toast to Texas” located at the Sam Houston Statue and Visitors Center at 2:00pm. Birthday cake for the 224-year-old general will be served and there will be a special commemorative award.

The tradition began in 1889 with students from the Sam Houston Normal Institute marching to the general’s grave. The annual event continued until around 1971, but then stopped.

In 1981, the Walker County Historical Commission began sponsoring the event through a program called Texas Heritage Days. Recently, students from SHSU, the ROTC, and the Department of History have continued the tradition.

The Oakwood Cemetery is located at Sam Houston Memorial Drive and 9th Street. In the event of inclement weather, the ceremony will be held at Mance Park Middle School.

To honor Sam Houston and participate in the march through the Huntsville streets contact Jamie Matthews at or visit