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Happy Memorial Day!

Friday, May 22, 2015 7:31:00 AM America/Chicago

Memorial Day. A day marked by office & school closures, long weekends, grilling, and the start of swim season. It is so much more, though.

Memorial day is an honorific holiday even older than its inception - it is a day used to commemorate those who laid down their lives in battle. This has been a practice for centuries, and was formerly known as Decoration Day in the Pre-Civil War South. Decoration Day added focus to the commemoration of fallen soldiers by cleaning and decorating their graves - hence the holiday's name. The date varied from state to state, but was definitely more common in the South than the North.

After the Civil War and rejoining of the Union, Decoration Day spread across the northern part of the reunified United States of America. Decoration Day became a day of memory for soldiers from both sides - Union and Confederate. As the years passed and the 1800s passed into the 1900s, the holiday evolved and began commemorating all soldiers who had laid down their lives; Naturally, Decoration day became known as Memorial day.

The years continued to roll by and the 1900s became the 2000s. Memorial day continued to shift and adapt and the modern era arrived. It became commonplace where only the graves of soldiers who had family left to mourn them were decorated, whereas at its inception, Memorial day was meant to remember all soldiers and - in Decoration day tradition - to decorate the graves of all soldiers, regardless of their familial ties and legacy.

So this Memorial day, remember those who had made the ultimate sacrifice to ensure that you can grill whenever or whatever you want, spend time family and friends and your leisure and discretion, and that swimming can be enjoyed regardless of location, time, and gender.

Our office will be closed on Monday, May 25 in observance of Memorial Day. Thank you to all the men and women who have served, are serving, and will continue to serve our country.

Posted in Employee Spotlight By Ro Luckey

The History of Skateboarding

Friday, May 22, 2015 7:19:00 AM America/Chicago

Skateboarding has a long and tricky history. It actually started over 50 years ago on the West Coast as an alternative for surfers when the waves were flat. The very first skateboard remains as mystery since a cluster of first generation boards popped up around the same time between the late 40s and early 50s.

By the 60s, skateboards were being manufactured across Southern California and mostly resembled mini surf boards with roller skate wheels. The early 60s ushered in the first golden era for Skateboarding. It's popularity grew rapidly and even saw one of its earliest Exhibitions in 1963. The following year, the first skateboarding magazine was published - The Quarterly Skateboarder.

Skateboarding began to decline around the late 1960s when claims began popping up about the sport being unsafe. Shops stopped selling them because parents stopped buying them. It wasn't until the following decade that skateboarding would see a resurgence in popularity.

The 70s saw another spike in skateboarding growth when Frank Nasworthy replaced traditionally metal or clay wheels with polyurethane. The new wheels improved traction and performance and led to a direct increase in skateboarding popularity. Skateboard manufacturers began to design and produce components specifically for skateboarding, which also allowed for greater maneuverability.

1975 saw the historic Del Mar National Championships, the largest skateboarding competition of its time. Up to 500 competitors were said to be present, among them the Zephyr Team. Later known as the Z-Boys, the Zephyr team introduced a progressive and radical skateboarding style heavily inspired by surfing. Their presence revolutionized skateboarding styles and solidified their place in skateboarding history.

With new technology improving maneuverability, traction, and performance, skateboarders were able to experiment, pushing the limits of conventional styles. In particularly, you saw the branching of street skating and vert skating. Vert coming from the word vertical, popularized by the increased use of empty swimming pools as skating grounds after the 1976 California drought.

Skateboarding did not lose steam as it rolled into the 80s. The majority of skateboard companies were owned by skateboarders, fueling the passion and innovation for gear and boards. This decade also saw the birth of the kickflip and the no-hands aerial (later known as the ollie) as skateboarders continued to experiment with tricks and styles.

The 90s were dominated by street skateboarding, and growth in popularity declined somewhat. The skateboard of today was finalized this decade - extremely hard but relatively small wheels, lighter boards, narrow and symmetrical. But by the time the new century rolled around, more minors were involved in skateboarding than baseball.

The 2000s began to see skateboarding as more pop culture than counter culture, utilizing this activity as a means to compliment academics. Much like sports, skateboarding programs were a non-traditional method to encourage physical activity, self-discipline, and confidence. Skateparks also experienced a resurgence in attendance and growth because of this. In 2003, Go Skateboarding day was founded on June 21"to define skateboarding as the rebellious, creative celebration of independence it continues to be." Three years later, there were 2400 skateparks established globally.

Skateboarding is now an internationally enjoyed recreational activity strongly associated with rebelliousness and independence.

Posted in Employee Spotlight By Ro Luckey

School's Out!

Friday, May 15, 2015 7:07:00 AM America/Chicago

It just so happens that it is now SUMMER VACATION! At least for those lucky seniors here in the US. Then, in about a month, all students (maybe even teachers?!) will be enjoying their summer break. At least here in the US. Across the globe, even across the nation, summer vacation does not mean the same thing! Some schools are off for 6 weeks. Some? Over 12 weeks. We'll take a closer look at the differing summer breaks - here in the US, with our neighbors Canada & Mexico, and then finally abroad.

US summer vacation can last anywhere from 2-3 months. These are typically the summer months with two distinct timelines: Early June to Early September, or Late May to Late August. This break is often believed to be due to the alignment of the academic calendar to the traditional agrarian calendar - children were needed at home to help plant and harvest craps. This does not seem to be the case as the major harvest seasons are spring and fall, and often times classes would resume after long harvest breaks. The leading theory to explain this long period of school-less-ness seems to be the growth in the population of urban areas - and the subsequent desire of families to escape the sweltering cities during the summer.

Canada experiences a similar summer break from scholastic endeavors, yet their summer starts at the end of June, lasting through to Labour Day in September. The difference in summer vacation days seems to be made up in longer breaks during the school year, for example a longer Christmas Break or spring break.

Mexico seems to have an even shorter summer vacation at only about a month long, starting in July. Much like Canada, holidays and breaks seem to be longer and occur more often during the school year.

In Japan, however, Summer Break occurs from July to September, and happens in the middle of a school grade/level (vs. Western schooling where the summer break is taken between school grades/levels.) Japan also offers a longer spring break towards the beginning of summer (April or May) and also ends the school year in Winter with another smaller break to separate school grades/levels.

Posted in Employee Spotlight By Ro Luckey

Mother's Day - A History

Friday, May 8, 2015 6:42:00 AM America/Chicago

Mother's day is this weekend! Sure, we all know WHAT mother's day is - the day we celebrate our Mothers (and their mothers, too!) and Mother-figures in our lives and society - but very few of us know the history behind this decades old celebration.

While there have been many celebrations honoring mothers and mother-like symbols around the world for centuries, we're going to take a closer look at the Mother's Day celebration most commonly celebrated in North America - particularly the US. Mothers day started in the early 1900s, and is usually celebrated in the springtime (either March or May - This year is May 10!)

The very first Mother's Day was celebrated on in 1908 by Anna Jarvis. She held it in honor of her mother, Ann Jarvis, who had died 3 years prior. To quote Wikipedia, "Ann Jarvis was a peace activist who cared for wounded soldiers on both sides of the Civil War and created Mother’s Day Work Clubs to address public health issues."

Though Jarvis (the younger) was successful in inaugurating a new US Holiday honoring not just her mother but mothers nationwide, her joy soon turned to bitterness at the quick commercialization of what was intended to be an honorific holiday. Jarvis was so embittered that she tried to do away with the Holiday she once fought so hard to create.

As the Holiday grew in the US, it spread across the known world with neighboring and other countries adopting Mother's day into their Calendar. For Example, Mothering Sunday in the UK - which existed before Mother's Day's conception - now shares its day with Mother's day, although both holidays are not related. Again, in Catholic countries, Mother's Day was reassigned to better tie in with major events in Catholicism, particularly those pertaining to the Virgin Mary. Ex-communist countries, however, will remain loyal to celebrating the socialist International Women's Day (vs. the capitalism heavily associated with Mother's Day).

Regardless of the religios affiliation (or the lack there of), it is clear that nations across the globe can agree on one thing: Let's celebrate the Mother we all love. Be sure to get her a great present - Mama Nees A New Pair Of Shoes!

Posted in Employee Spotlight By Ro Luckey

Go Big or Go Home: June

Friday, May 1, 2015 9:25:00 PM America/Chicago

The Spartan Race

"Spartan Race was created with a simple, yet important, mission in mind. That mission is to get people back to their primal roots. To do what they were designed to do: run, jump, climb and sweat." Taken straight from the Spartan Race website. The race itself was founded in 2010 and is now present in over 10 countries. Most Spartans are available in 3 different segments: the Sprint (3+mi, 15+ obstacles), the Super (8+mi, 20+ obstacles), and the Beast (12+mi, 25+ obstacles). There are even races available for children! It all depends on the location.

TRI-STATE NEW YORK SPRINT #2 • June 6 • Tuxedo, NY
MONTEREY SUPER • June 6 • Monterey, CA
BOISE SPARTAN SPRINT • June 13 • Payette, ID
BRECKENRIDGE BEAST • June 13 • Breckenridge, CO
BRECKENRIDGE SPRINT • June 13 • Breckenridge, CO
BOSTON SUPER • June 20 • Barre, MA
AT&T STADIUM SPRINT - DALLAS (STADIUM) • June 20 • Arlington, TX
SALT LAKE CITY SUPER • June 27 • Midway, UT
MINNESOTA SPRINT • June 27 • Welch, MN




The Biggest Loser RunWalk

"The Biggest Loser RunWalk is a non-intimidating race series designed to challenge America to get fit." Much like the Spartan, the Biggest Loser RunWalk is compromised of 3 different series: the Six Flags series, the Premier Destination series, and the Off-road Challenges. The Premier Destination series is their featured half marathon & 5k races. The Six Flags series is.. well, basically their Premier Destination series hosted at Six Flags amsusement parks. And the Off-Road Challenges are just set on trail runs with obstacle courses (and hosted at Spartan Race locations!).

Premier Destination • June 7 • Erie, PA
Premier Destination • June 20 • Rockford, IL




The WipeOut Run

Inspired by the hit TV Show, the WipeOut Run was design to be a fun yet engaging (NOT BRUTAL) 5k experience, encouraging people to enjoy the challenge of physical activity. Run the 3.1 mile course yourself, taking on the 12 obstacles alone, or race your team mates to the finish line for an added layer of challenge.

June 6 • Baltimore, MD
June 13 • Wilmington, DE
June 20 • Washington, DC
June 27 • Stillwater, MN




The DirtyGirl 5k MudRun

The DirtyGirl 5k MudRun was created to encourage women to embrace athleticism and the outdoors. As such, it was the first of now only a handful of national races exclusively for women. While obesity is just as likely to occur in men as it is in women (36% of adults are considered obese), women are twice as likely as men to be considered extremely obese.

June 6 • Indianapolis, IN
June 13 • Pittsburgh, PA
June 26 • Chicago, IL




The Warrior Dash

Warrior Dash is one of the largest international races at only 6 years young, located on 4 continents across the world. The able few who are can conquer this grueling course are rewarded with Tshirt, Warrior Helmet & Medal, and revelries to celebrate their accomplishment!

June 6 • Huntersville, NC
June 6 • Tekamah, NE
June 13 • Channahon, IL
June 27 • Crawfordsville, IN




The Color Run

The Color Run is a newly-created 5k event, forming only in 2012! It was founded to encourage novices to join the running community, and serves as a fun introductory event! The shower of color was inspired by Holi, an ancient Hindu Festival of love.

June 06 • Indianapolis, IN
June 07 • Chicago, IL
June 07 • Madison, WI
June 13 • Los Angeles, CA
June 13 • Louisville, KY
June 13 • Youngstown, OH
June 20 • Cleveland, OH
June 27 • Amarillo, TX
June 27 • Anchorage, AK
June 27 • Ypsilanti, MI
June 28 • South Portland, ME




The Color FunFest

The Color FunFest is more or less the Color Run but run by a different company, although the Color FunFest puts more emphasis on the availability of evening running. Like with any great idea, multiples will popup! Choices are great, though, as that makes variety and availability much more widespread. While the Color Run may not be present in a certain city, The Color FunFest (or any other comparable color 5k) will most certainly be there!

June 13 • Atlanta, GA
June 20 • Nashville, TN




DIVAS Half Marathon & 5K Series

Another Girls' Club 5k run! This time without the mud. The DIVAS Half Marathon & 5k series offers something for newbies and veterans alike - all from the comfort of a nicely paved race course.

None In June




Tough Mudder

The Tough Mudder is by no means a novice event - though that doesn't mean you cannot try! It is roughly 3 times the length of a 5k, coming it at about 18-20km (10-12mi), and it doesn't stop there. The whole course is littered with obstacles specifically designed to play into basic human fears (fire, deep water, electricity, and heights.) Not for the faint of heart, or the financially challenged! Tickets start around the $100 mark.

June 6 & 7 • West Dover , VT
June 13 & 14 • Truckee , CA
June 13 & 14 • Doswell , VA
June 20 & 21 • Whistler , BC , Canada
June 27 & 28 • Sparta , KY

Posted in Get Fit Get Active By Ro Luckey

Go Big or Go Home: May

Saturday, April 11, 2015 6:25:00 AM America/Chicago

The Spartan Race

"Spartan Race was created with a simple, yet important, mission in mind. That mission is to get people back to their primal roots. To do what they were designed to do: run, jump, climb and sweat." Taken straight from the Spartan Race website. The race itself was founded in 2010 and is now present in over 10 countries. Most Spartans are available in 3 different segments: the Sprint (3+mi, 15+ obstacles), the Super (8+mi, 20+ obstacles), and the Beast (12+mi, 25+ obstacles). There are even races available for children! It all depends on the location.

Colorado Sprint • May 2 • Carson, CO
Citi Field Sprint • May 9 • New York, NY
Montana Beast • May 9 • Bigfork, MT
Austin Super • May 9 • Burnet, TX
Montana Sprint • May 10 • Bigfork, TX
Austin Sprint • May 10 • Burnet, TX
Indianapolis Sprint • May 16 • Lauren, IN
Austin Sprint • May 16 • Burnet, TX
Austin Super • May 17 • Burnet, TX
Miller Park Sprint • May 23 • Milwaukee, WI
Tri-State New York Sprint • May 30-31 • Tuxedo, NY
Ohio Beast • May 30 • Cumberland, OH
Ohio Sprint • May 31 • Cumberland, OH




The Biggest Loser RunWalk

"The Biggest Loser RunWalk is a non-intimidating race series designed to challenge America to get fit." Much like the Spartan, the Biggest Loser RunWalk is compromised of 3 different series: the Six Flags series, the Premier Destination series, and the Off-road Challenges. The Premier Destination series is their featured half marathon & 5k races. The Six Flags series is.. well, basically their Premier Destination series hosted at Six Flags amsusement parks. And the Off-Road Challenges are just set on trail runs with obstacle courses (and hosted at Spartan Race locations!).

Premier Destination • May 3 • Crown Point, IN
Premier Destination • May 31 • Plattsburgh, NY




The WipeOut Run

Inspired by the hit TV Show, the WipeOut Run was design to be a fun yet engaging (NOT BRUTAL) 5k experience, encouraging people to enjoy the challenge of physical activity. Run the 3.1 mile course yourself, taking on the 12 obstacles alone, or race your team mates to the finish line for an added layer of challenge.

May 9 • San Diego, CA




The DirtyGirl 5k MudRun

The DirtyGirl 5k MudRun was created to encourage women to embrace athleticism and the outdoors. As such, it was the first of now only a handful of national races exclusively for women. While obesity is just as likely to occur in men as it is in women (36% of adults are considered obese), women are twice as likely as men to be considered extremely obese.

May 2 • Scranton, PA
May 17 • Virginia Beach, VA
May 30 • Greensboro, NC




The Warrior Dash

Warrior Dash is one of the largest international races at only 6 years young, located on 4 continents across the world. The able few who are can conquer this grueling course are rewarded with Tshirt, Warrior Helmet & Medal, and revelries to celebrate their accomplishment!

May 2 • Amity, AR
May 2 • Inola, OK
May 16 • Mechanicsville, MD
MAy 16 • Millfield, OH




The Color Run

The Color Run is a newly-created 5k event, forming only in 2012! It was founded to encourage novices to join the running community, and serves as a fun introductory event! The shower of color was inspired by Holi, an ancient Hindu Festival of love.

May 2 • Ft. Lauderdale, FL
May 2 • Shreveport, LA
May 10 • Seattle, WA
May 16 • Austin, TX
May 16 • Medford, OR
May 16 • Savannah, GA
May 16 • Central Jersey, NJ
May 17 • Eau Claire, WI
May 17 • Washington, DC
May 23 • Rochester, NY
May 23 • San Jose, CA
May 23 • Baltimore, MD
May 23 • Fayetteville, NC
May 23 • Fort Wayne, IN
May 23 • Nashville, TN
May 23 • Queens, NY
May 23 • Racine, WI
May 30 • Birmingham, AL
May 30 • Charlotte, NC
May 30 • Hershey, PA - Sold Out
May 30 • Kansas City, MO
May 30 • Fairbanks, AK
May 31 • Hershey, PA
May 31 • Boston, MA




The Color FunFest

The Color FunFest is more or less the Color Run but run by a different company, although the Color FunFest puts more emphasis on the availability of evening running. Like with any great idea, multiples will popup! Choices are great, though, as that makes variety and availability much more widespread. While the Color Run may not be present in a certain city, The Color FunFest (or any other comparable color 5k) will most certainly be there!

May 2 • Miami Gardens, FL
May 9 • Tulsa, OK
May 30 • Madison, IL




DIVAS Half Marathon & 5K Series

Another Girls' Club 5k run! This time without the mud. The DIVAS Half Marathon & 5k series offers something for newbies and veterans alike - all from the comfort of a nicely paved race course.

May 17 • Branson, MO
May 31 • San Fransisco Bay, CA




Tough Mudder

The Tough Mudder is by no means a novice event - though that doesn't mean you cannot try! It is roughly 3 times the length of a 5k, coming it at about 18-20km (10-12mi), and it doesn't stop there. The whole course is littered with obstacles specifically designed to play into basic human fears (fire, deep water, electricity, and heights.) Not for the faint of heart, or the financially challenged! Tickets start around the $100 mark.

May 2 & 3 • Smithville, TX
May 2 & 3 • Fairburn, GA
May 9 & 10 • Richmond, IL
May 9 & 10 • Lexington, OH
May 16 • Okemah, OK
May 16 & 17 • Pulaski, TN

Posted in Get Fit Get Active By Ro Luckey

How is it STILL March Madness?!

Friday, April 3, 2015 1:06:00 PM America/Chicago

So, today is April 3rd. As in the third day of April. As in no longer March. Then how is it still March Madness?!

March Madness, or NCAA Men's Division I Basketball Tournament (WOW what a mouthful), coincides with the end of the basketball season. So the whole division falls away by the end of March. Unfortunately this usually pushes the championship game and playoffs into the month of April. That's why even though today is April 3rd, there are still 3 outstanding games left in the tournament.

But what is March Madness anyway? Why all this mayhem for a month made up mostly of springtime sunshine and showers? There's a certain appeal to college sports that a lot of spectators are drawn to - the youth and vibrancy, the sincerity and fervor, and the interpreted purity of the game, given that teams and players generally lack - and are barred from - professional sponsorships. So it's no wonder that the NCAA tournament has garnered such hype and popularity.

The term March Madness itself, however, was initially coined around an Illinois high school sports association. Coach H.V. Porter, an official for Illinois High School Association, released an essay of called March in 1939, and again used the term in a 1942 poem about basketball. "March Madness" spread quickly across the midwest, but almost exclusively only referred to high school basketball.

It was during the 80s when "March Madness" first met college basketball. Legend has it that CBS Sportscaster Brent Musburger, who spent a good amount of time casting from Chicago, brought the term from the Midwest into the national spotlight. More often than not, however, the NCAA credits Bob Walsh for coining this term at the collegiate level.

Over 10 years pass before either the IHSA (Illinois High School Association) or the NCAA (National Collegiate Athletic Association) thought to trademark this iconic term. In a historic ruling in 1996, both associations were granted the right to trademarking the term in what is considered the precedented concept of "dual-use trademark."

The IHSA and NCAA joined forces to form the March Madness Athletic Associate, making the licensing of the trademark much easier to manage and protect. Today, however, the NCAA is sole owner of the trademark as the IHSA relented ownership in the 2000s.

Posted in Employee Spotlight By Ro Luckey

New Years Resolution Checkin

Friday, March 27, 2015 1:01:00 PM America/Chicago

We're almost done with March, meaning we're nearly 3 months in to the new year! To be more accurate, we're 79 days into 2015. That leaves 286 days until the near year - 40 weeks and 6 days. Plenty of time to work towards that New Year's Resolution!

That's right! This blog post is a New Year's Resolution Check In! Don't worry - You've got plenty of time. Remember - it only takes 40 weeks for a new person to be born so it's not too late to start! Sure, life happens - Sickness, work, vacation, family and family, holidays. We all know what it's like to fall off the horse, but the important thing is to get back in the saddle!

Getting back in the saddle is great but that doesn't necessarily mean you can ride fast pace from the get go! Take it slow. Baby steps ensure that you don't over-exert yourself, and small victories help boost your self-confidence and make you feel better about getting back into exercising. A study in Canada shows than even an additional 30 minutes of exercise A WEEK can reduce the risk of heart attack by 30%!

Maybe you didn't fall off the horse. Maybe you just didn't find the right horse. That's no problem. There's plenty of different fitness lifestyles out there to choose from, and you can always customize and tailor-fit to your own specific needs. Traditional aerobic/anaerobic mixes may not work for you. In fact, most people I know hate running, especially on a treadmill. That's fine. Do something you enjoy instead. A great way to get that same cardio/strength training mix is to take a class, like Zuma or Kickboxing.

Or maybe you have joint pain and just can't really seem to find a class or machine that works well for you. Or you just don't like going to the gym. Yoga is a great alternative to traditional gym-scene exercising. Plenty of studies have been conducted and prove the inter-disciplinary benefits of Yoga - from flexibility, to muscle strength, to stress-relief.

Still unconvinced there's a healthy lifestyle out there for you? Or maybe you're hesitant to commit the monthly membership money without being sure you'll enjoy it? Not a problem! One of the newest trends to hit the fitness scene is Grouponing. Not only does it save on money, it's non-committal! Try a Zumba Class for a month. Then do Yoga three days a week for 6 weeks. Get unlimited access to an Archery range for the next 4 weeks after that. Explore everything that your city has to offer and keep your exercising new and exciting!

Posted in Get Fit Get Active By Ro Luckey

First Day Of Spring!

Friday, March 20, 2015 7:23:00 AM America/Chicago

Equinox comes from the latin aequus, meaning equal, and nox, meaning night. The equinox marks the calendar year in which the day and night are of equal length. Pagans and various religious have either harvest or commemorative celebrations around this time. We here at Shoebacca also celebrate the Spring Equinox for one thing - the days just get longer from here!

With shortening days comes extended periods of daylight! And that means getting outside to Get Fit, Get Active. Spring is the best season to enjoy the great outdoors! No need to wear heavy, bulky winter clothes, trudging along through the snow in boots that collectively weight 10 lbs. No need to crank the AC as the sun has yet to achieve its full power. So any attempts to cook eggs on the sidewalk or pizza on your dashboard are not necessary.

So while the sun shines moderately and balmy breezes blow, why not enjoy the bounty of mother earth as she comes into her own?


Nothing is more enjoyable that taking a walk or bike ride through your local park! See all the fresh new flowers blossoming or enjoy the budding trees. Don't forget your allergy medicine, but especially don't forget a pair of leisurely canvas shoes! You don't need anything heavy-duty like an extra-padded pair of running sneakers. Something casual like a slip-on on or even a classic pair of Chuck Taylors (this month's Shoe of the Month) are all you need to stroll along.


Or maybe you're into all this March Mayhem that's going on. That's great! Spend your evenings indoors watching the games, but spend your days or weekends or other free time outside shooting some hoops. But how are you gonna bring your A-Game when you've got B-Shoes? Make sure your shoe game is on point with a new pair of Jordans. Or go old-school with a pair of Puma Suede Classics.


Okay so Parks & Recreation don't really float your boat. But boating does! Nothing like the bright morning light dancing on the crest of a wave as it breaks against the bow. Why not look your best while you feel your best! Stay safe with a pair of deep-tread loafers as you lounge on deck. Try a pair of of GBX Ayce on for size!

Whether you're riding the waves, relaxing all cool, or shooting some B-Ball outside of the school, do it all in style with a new pair of shoes. Most importantly, though, DO SOMETHING! Get Going. Go Outside. And Remember: Get Fit, Get Active.

Posted in Get Fit Get Active By Ro Luckey

Texas History Is ShoeBacca History

Saturday, March 7, 2015 8:30:00 PM America/Chicago

March is an important month to people for several reasons: NCAA March Madness begins, it's the first calendar month of spring, and Texas declared its independence over 150 years ago.

Texas was no stranger to sovereignty. Over the course of 300 years, this region passed four time between 3 different nations: Spain for over 150 years, France for a brief 5 years before its ownership was rescinded back to Spain for another century until civil unrest yielded the nation of Mexico in 1821.

Mexico, perhaps much inspired by her northern neighbor, made great strides away from the monarchy that once ruled and established a Federal Republic. In 1825, the young nation began to colonize the remote province of Coahuila y Tejas. After a decade of targeted federal regulations and settlement auto-militarizations, the Texas portion of the province began its revolt in what would become the move toward an independent nation.

Stephen F. Austin, the spearhead for colonization, originally wanted Texas to be recognized as an independent state from Coahuila. After a year in prison, he published a document outlining his stance. However, in a few short months, dissent escalated in Mexico and Austin was freed in July, only to recant his stance. War was Austin's battle cry, and independence his spoils.

Rebels rallied to his cry while Mexican President Santa Anna sized control from the states. The clouds of war that had been brewing finally burst forth the Revolution with The Battle of Gonzales. "Come and Take It" was the rebels' mantra, a phrase that still echoes from the annals of history. President Santa Anna, in a token of good faith, had given settlers in the northwestern area of Coahuila y Tejas a cannon in 1821 - as means of protection against the Comanche. However, in attempt to curb the onset of war, federal forces were sent to retrieve the weapon. "Come and Take It!" the rebel settlers cried and forced the Mexican military to retreat under a rain of bullets and cannon fire.

Blood flowed across the land in skirmish after skirmish as the war raged on. Texians gained land and support over the course of the next six months. President Santa Anna, a general first and politician second, rides for battle to turn the tides of war. On a Cold February afternoon, a day that started in celebration ended in siege as Santa Anna's forces fell upon a small Catholic Mission.

Nearly a week into the Siege of the Alamo, as standing commander of the garrison William B Travis rallied his mere 200 troops against an army of thousands, The Texas Declaration of Independence is signed. The Republic of Texas is born. David Burnet is interim Commander in Chief and Sam Houston as Commander General. Much gained, and much lost. The Alamo falls within a few days, and with her fall patriots William B Travis, David Crocket, and Jim Bowie.

Victory is on the horizon, but to whom she belongs is yet to be seen. Texas rebels and Mexican militants both had their wins and losses. Santa Anna assembles his war council to plan a final assault. Rebel forces, after receiving the Alamo's distress cry, flock to her aid. The force led by Colonel James Fannin, as they dispatch from Goliad, are ambushed and overwhelmed by General Urrea in the Battle of Coleto. Over 300 Texan rebels are captured, marched back to Goliad, and imprisoned. Nearly 400 prisoners of war are held at Fort Defiance.

In a cruel twist of fate, the Mexican government had enacted a law at the onset of war that "any foreigners taken in combat were to be treated as pirates and executed. As it so happens, the mass of POWs held were Anglo immigrants from the North. General Urrea had left Goliad in the command of Colonel Portilla. Urrea saw these rebels for what they were - as soldiers, men just like him, fighting for what they believed at the behest of their leaders. He wrote vehemently to President Santa Anna for clemency, who wrote back with equal fervor to comply with the law. Unable to stop Colonel Portilla from carrying out his duty, over 300 Texians were marched to their death on Palm Sunday, March 27, 1836, better known as The Goliad Massacre.

Santa Anna, who had conquered first for Spain, then conquered Span itself to help bring Mexico to fruition, had dealt a great blow and sent Texas reeling. The Texas army drew forces east in an effort to amass them all at a central point. Sam Houston was mocked as a coward, urged to move west and meet the Mexicans in open battle. Santa Anna was not called the Napoleon of the West. Emboldened by the retreat, he pursued the Texan forces to San Jacinto River, setting the stage for what would be his Waterloo.

Small skirmishes took place for a few days between scouting parties as both armies probed for each others forces. Drunk on confidence, Santa Anna maintained very relax defenses around his encampment, disregarding the need for sentries and lookouts. On the dreamy afternoon of April 21, the tides of battle came crashing down on the Mexican forces in a flurry of gunfire and artillery shells.

"Remember The Alamo!" the rebels cried, storming hastily built fortifications constructed from packs and baggage. "Remember Goliad!" the shrieked, pouring over sleeping Mexican army like the tide reclaims the beach. Much like their siesta, the lives of Mexican Soldiers were cut short this day. Though outnumbered, the Sam Houston's bold gambit to lead an attack in broad daylight had paid off. Although Santa Anna far outnumbered the rebel forces, hubris and traditional ranked tactics cost him the war.

The Battle of San Jacinto was a landslide victory. Texas suffered only 9 casualties, while half of the Mexican forces were slaughtered and the rest taken captive, among them Santa Anna himself. The Battle was won. The War was ended. Texas was a sovereign nation all her own.

Posted in Employee Spotlight By Ro Luckey
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