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A Working Memorial in Arkansas Twenty Years After 9/11

For the witnesses of September 11, 2001, it is hard to believe it has been twenty years now after those shocking and horrific morning hours when the United States was attacked.  Since that time, we have spent twenty years hunting down those responsible, waging war on terrorism, grieving, rebuilding, and building memorials.  There are countless memorials across the nation and the world commemorating those who died that day.  The memorials celebrate the lives, the heroes, and the legacy of those lost. However, in a small town in northeast Arkansas, one memorial serves as a reminder of the loss of one of their own and functionally serves the community. 

While most memorials remember the person, the moment, or an event, the memorial to Sara Low serves the community as a dog park.  Sara Low was a native of Batesville, Arkansas.  Batesville is the oldest city still operating in Arkansas, and it was the home where Low grew up.  She attended school in Batesville, her family worked and lived there, and she left to work for the airlines.  On September 11, 2001, as her parents watched Sara’s beloved cat at their home in Batesville, Sara, at just 28 years of age, boarded a flight as a member of the crew of Flight 11 from Boston to California. 

In the aftermath of the attacks, it is believed that Sara worked to help passengers remain calm on the flight, but she is also credited with providing the telephone calling card used to give important information to the ground.  Later as America moved to find those responsible, Sara’s wings were sent to the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment. So while Sara could do no more after September 11 for her country and citizens, her wings were carried into the battles against terrorists as a reminder to the troops and as a small way she could continue to make a difference. In February of 2020, the city of Batesville broke ground on a project for their own memorial for Sara Low and September 11.  Sara had a long history of love for animals.  She was known to take in strays, help them, and care for them as a child.  Her parents and the community decided that they wanted a functioning memorial.  They wanted something to celebrate Sara, her love of animals, and to serve the community where she was raised.  The groundbreaking was the first step in the building of what would become The Sara Low Memorial Dog Park. 

Today the park can be visited along the walking path near Riverside Park.  The Sara Low Memorial Dog Park has been featured nationwide in articles, news reports, and shows.  It is built with rock from Batesville with sitting spaces, off-leash areas for dogs, and other amenities associated with a park to serve dogs and their owners. 

For a  community that still mourns Sara Low after twenty years, the park serves as a reminder that the good of the many people that died on September 11, 2001, can never be forgotten or taken for granted.  Sara Elizabeth Low will forever be remembered as one of the victims of 9/11. Continue Reading →

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Womack and Boozman Efforts Bring MIA WWII Pilot Home

The remains of missing in action WWII pilot have been repatriated back to the U.S. and will be returned home to Arkansas

Washington, DC— August 5, 2021….Congressman Steve Womack (AR-3) and U.S. Senator John Boozman (R-AR) today announced the remains of U.S. serviceman Lt. Henry Donald Mitchell, who was missing in action from World War II, have been identified and will be returned home to Arkansas for burial with full military honors at the Fayetteville National Cemetery. The news comes after a decades-long search—and the joint efforts of the Mitchell family, Arkansas congressional members, Department of Defense, and international representatives—to find and identify Lt. Mitchell. Congressman Womack said, “Lieutenant Henry Donald Mitchell is coming home. For us, Lt. Mitchell was an American hero who helped defend freedom against tyranny. For Bob, he was not only that, but also a brother. Continue Reading →

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Texas Historical Commission Approves Plans for Exhibition Hall and Collections Building

Groundbreaking Slated for August 17th

SAN ANTONIO, TX. July 28, 2021 — The Alamo crossed a milestone in its efforts to improve the visitor experience and expand its exhibition facilities with the Texas Historical Commission’s approval of its new Exhibition Hall and Collections Building this week. This approval will expand exhibition space for documents and objects in the Alamo’s comprehensive collection by 500%. The Alamo will break ground on the new 24,000-square-foot building on August 17, 2021. The Alamo Plan encompasses both restoration of historic buildings and new construction projects, all with the goals of fostering reverence and dignity at one of the most important sites in Texas history. Continue Reading →

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July 4, Fireworks, Shows, Parades, and God

Flag

It started with a suggestion in June, followed by a meeting on July 2, and finally a formal signing on July 4, 1776.  From that moment on, the cry would go up around the world that the colonies of the North American Continent, all thirteen of them, had declared independence from Great Britain.  Like any country, Britain would not take kindly to losing the colonies.  In fact, no country in the history of the world has ever simply said, “Sure, go ahead and leave us and take all the investments we made into your area with you.”  No, instead the greatest empire in the world set out to reclaim the colonies and force them back into the British realm.  The rest of the story, you know as the United States won independence in the war that followed.  To this day, we still hear our friends across the pond in England wish us a “Happy Traitor’s Day.”  Naturally, this is done more in good humor now that we are friends so many years after the revolution. The founding fathers were by no means blind to the fact that they were setting in motion something that would be celebrated for years, and perhaps forever.  John Adams wrote to his wife of the importance of the entire event that officially started on July 2 and ended on July 4.  He sent his letter on July 3, 1776 that included the following statement:

“The second day of July 1776, will be the most memorable epoch in the history of America. I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated by succeeding generations as the great anniversary festival. It ought to be commemorated as the day of deliverance, by solemn acts of devotion to God Almighty. It ought to be solemnized with pomp and parade, with shows, games, sports, guns, bells, bonfires, and illuminations, from one end of this continent to the other, from this time forward forever more.” Continue Reading →

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Juneteenth National Independence Day

Opinion: Juneteenth is now a national holiday, but it has always been in the hearts and minds of many. Perhaps not surprisingly, some Americans have never known about Juneteenth. Texas for years has celebrated the holiday as a state holiday, but it’s likely many taking a holiday did not know the true significance of the celebration. While the historic event was certainly not the official end of slavery in the United States, it has become a celebration of the symbolic end of slavery for all Americans.

Historically speaking, Lincoln’s great Emancipation Proclamation did little to free slaves. The proclamation ended slavery in the states in rebellion, but few realize that it left slavery in full operation in five states. Five slave states remained in the Union during the Civil War and were not subject to the proclamation. The enforcement of the Emancipation Proclamation depended on the arrival and control in rebellion states by Union forces. The Five slave-states remaining in the Union during the Civil War waited until December to see the end of slavery. While slavery might end in one state, it may well have still been in operation in another state or territory. Because of the various dates slavery ended, no historian can say with certainty when it ended for any individual man, woman, or child. Despite this fact, Juneteenth day has a long history of being the celebrated date for the end of what President Biden calls America’s “Original Sin.”

What Juneteenth does hold over all other potential dates for the end of slavery is the fact it is the oldest celebrated date for the end of slavery in the United States. It has been called Jubilee Day, Black Independence Day, and Emancipation Day. In history, it is the day Union troops arrived in Galveston, Texas, under the command of General Gordon Granger and shared the Emancipation Proclamation three years after it had been signed.

If you could step back in time, imagine being in Galveston, Texas, on June 19, 1865. It’s a hot day. Business is likely going on as usual. Maybe you are a slave, maybe you are free, but all you know for certain is that a Union group of soldiers have arrived. If you are enslaved, you may be standing near your owner, or you are working, or maybe you’re in town to pick up some supplies. This group of Union men moves through the city reading Army General Order Number 3 to everyone. Crowds would have likely followed them. They would have heard it read several times. To some, it must have been a shock, unbelievable, or even as the old saying goes, “Too good to be true.” By the time the group reaches a church on Broadway, there must have been many people following and asking questions. As the order was last read at the church, this is what they would have heard, had explained to them if need be, but come to understand as the day Freedom arrived in Galveston:

The people of Texas are informed that, in accordance with a proclamation from the Executive of the United States, all slaves are free. This involves an absolute equality of personal rights and rights of property between former masters and slaves, and the connection heretofore existing between them becomes that between employer and hired labor. The freedmen are advised to remain quietly at their present homes and work for wages. They are informed that they will not be allowed to collect at military posts and that they will not be supported in idleness either there or elsewhere. “Juneteenth”. Texas State Library and Archives Commission.

Many would naturally be confused, but within that order, four words would have struck home for any person in slavery… “all slaves are free.” From the small island of Galveston, the word would spread through songs, messages, and across the land, “All Slaves are free.”

June the 19th, 1865, would become the day that all citizens of the United States would recognize that after 89 years, for the first time, all people in the United States could cling to the words of the Declaration of Independence. Continue Reading →

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In Flanders Fields

(by John McCrae)

In Flanders Fields, the poppies blow Between the crosses, row on row, That mark our place; and in the sky The larks, still bravely singing, fly Scarce heard amid the guns below.     We are the dead. Short days ago    We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,       Loved and were loved, and now we lie,                              In Flanders fields.     Take up our quarrel with the foe:    To you from failing hands we throw       The torch; be yours to hold it high.       If ye break faith with us who die    We shall not sleep, though poppies grow                                In Flanders fields. Continue Reading →

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Alamo Unveils Plans For New Exhibit Hall & Collections Building

A rendering of the bottom floor of the building. Rendering by Gensler | GRG. SAN ANTONIO, TX. – Get a sneak peek of the new Alamo Exhibit Hall & Collections Building in design renderings released today on theAlamo.org. The images depict an exciting new addition to the Alamo Complex with increased gallery space and ample room for interactive exhibits and learning opportunities. Continue Reading →

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Alamo Long Barrack Undergoing Cleaning And Roof Repairs

SAN ANTONIO, TX. — As one of the oldest buildings in Texas, the Alamo Long Barrack requires regular attention to keep the structure in its healthiest possible state. In the coming weeks, the Alamo’s preservation team will begin repair work on the Long Barrack’s roof and stone walls. During recent archaeological investigations in the Long Barrack, the preservation team discovered blisters in the roof of the Long Barrack. Cracks in the roof’s membrane have allowed moisture to infiltrate, causing parts of it to rise one foot above the existing roof. This modern-day roof, installed in 1975, is not a part of the original structure, and its unforeseen condition is covered under warranty by the company that originally installed the roof membrane in 2014. Continue Reading →

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The Alamo Releases New Research Report On The Iconic 18-Pounder Cannon

Fernando Raven with the 18-pounder in the 1890s, before the cannon was lost. Source

SAN ANTONIO – The Alamo is proud to announce the release of a new research report on the 18-pounder cannon, which details the cannon’s prominent role in the Battle of the Alamo and how a faithful replica can be made. Accounts from 1836 have long shown that the 18-pounder was an important cannon for the Alamo Defenders, but the cannon itself was lost to history sometime after the battle. The information in this report sheds new light on what the cannon looked like, where it originated, and challenges commonly held beliefs about the cannon. “It was important for us to do a deeper dive into the history of the 18-pounder,” Alamo History Researcher Kolby Lanham said. “The historical narrative of this cannon hasn’t changed for many years, and as students of history we have an obligation to re-evaluate the historical narrative when new information comes to light. Continue Reading →

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The Alamo Launching In-Person Guided Tours On Nov. 13

SAN ANTONIO – Starting November 13, the Alamo will begin offering in-person guided tours to visitors again for the first time since March. On the A Story Bigger Than Texas Guided Tour,  an Alamo Tour Guide will take visitors on a journey through history as they learn about the Alamo’s 300-year history as a Spanish mission, U.S. Quartermaster warehouse, and the 13-day Battle of the Alamo in 1836. 

The guided tour spans the whole site, from the historic battlefield in Alamo Plaza to the interior of the Church, and the Alamo gardens, added in the early 20th century, with their Living History Encampment, as well as the special exhibits in Alamo Hall. The tour helps visitors not only learn about the events that led to the Battle of the Alamo, but why San Antonio was so important during the war for Texas Revolution. Masks are required for all visitors and Alamo staff at all times, and guided tours will be limited to 10 people per group to allow for social distancing. Guided tours will be offered at 10 a.m., 11:30 a.m., and 1 p.m. every Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. Continue Reading →

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