Thursday, April 7, 2011

Protecting Funding Means Protecting Our Texas History

Letters to the Editor
April 6, 2011
James F. Ray, President
Preservation Texas, Inc.

A remarkable thing happened in Austin recently. Six separate historic preservation groups and a throng of concerned citizens came together at Scholz Garten in a rally to help save the Texas Historical Commission, the guardian and nerve center for our heritage, from draconian budget cuts in the Texas Legislature.

Texas music legend Ray Benson of Asleep in the Wheel performed gratis because of his deep passion for Texas history. The 1866 Scholz Garten, a treasured piece of history itself, waived its usual event fee when it learned about the cause. Benson told the enthusiastic crowd that he came to Texas 40 years ago because of its rich history and diverse culture.

United, the crowd called for the Legislature to reject the proposed 77 percent cut to the Texas Historical Commission, a reduction far greater than the average 28 percent reduction recommended for other similar agencies.

Why, in the face of tight spending for public education, health programs and social services is funding for the Texas Historical Commission important to the people of Texas? Remembering Texas' unique history through preservation of historic structures and sites is itself part of our public education.

Imagine a Texas where there was no Alamo for children to visit, or a San Jacinto Battleground covered over with concrete and commercial warehouses. What would it say to Texas children if the magnificent Capitol was still a fire trap, or if the 1856 Governor's Mansion had just been bulldozed after the devastating fire of 2008?

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