Four Javelina alumni played major role in construction of monument

Four Javelina alumni played major role in construction of monument

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As the Tejano Monument was unveiled on the Capitol grounds, sculptor and Javelina alumnus Armando Hinojosa looked down at his hands while seating in the VIP section among more than 2,000 spectators who had gathered for the historic moment.
State Sen. Judith Zaffirini (D-Laredo) was at the podium praising Hinjosa’s work, which took more than 11 years and $2.2 million to construct, after unanimous approval by both the Texas House and Senate.
“Armando, thank you for your work. Thank you for helping us enjoy this lasting monument that will forever signal that the Tejano – the Spanish and Mexican settlers who helped settle this land we call Texas – were a part, are a part and will forever be a part of this great state’s history and future.”
Hinojosa’s hands – calloused and rough from years of working with sculpting molds – trembled while the senator praised his work to the sound of thunderous applause from the appreciative audience. You see, Hinojosa has only eight working fingers. One was lost and another was attached with surgery and is not functional.
Hinojosa stood up and waved his hand simply saying, “Thank you” to the senator and the audience.
It was Hinojosa, along with three other Texas A&I University (now Texas A&M-Kingsville) alumni who helped make the long awaited sculpture a reality Thursday, Marc h 29. The other alumni included Homero Vera, Dr. Emilio Zamora and Servando Hinojosa.
The 525-square-foot Tejano Monument had been covered in tarp overnight and as piece by piece of Hinojosa’s work was unveiled, rays of sunlight peered from the clouded sky as if signaling a new era for Texas.
“This is a proud moment for Texas and all Tejanos,” Vera said, his voice choking. “Armando did a beautiful job. This is for all our ancestors who helped carve the history of Texas and explored its vast resources against incredible odds.”
Hundreds gathered on the south lawn at the capitol building to catch a glimpse of bright granite foundation and beaming bronze statues.
Twelve pieces, all pain-stakingly carved by Hinojosa mark the biggest monument on the Capitol grounds. The pieces tell the Tejano story from the 1500s to the 1800s.
“That depth of history and context is more important now than ever, given that Mexican-American history is elsewhere being literally removed from the classroom.,” Javelina alumnus Dr. Emilio Zamora from the University of Texas said. Zamora is in charge of developing the educational component that will tell the story of the contributions of Tejanos to Texas and the nation.
The pieces include a conquistador, a Tejano couple, a young girl tending to a goat, a young boy tending to a sheep, a Longhorn bull and cow and at the top, glancing toward the capitol building, a Tejano vaquero proudly overlooking the Capitol grounds and the statue beneath him.
Several speakers congratulated those involved in the concerted effort to have a Tejano Monument.
Gov. Rick Perry appeared, along with Zaffirini, Justice Eva Guzman, Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst, Cinthia Salinas, of the University of Texas College of Education Program and Andres Tijerina, a professor at Austin Community College. Tijerina enticed the crowd into frenzy as he reviewed saying  “history is Tejano history.”
He offered a quick history of how names of rivers and places in Texas came from the early settlers.
The Mexican-Tejano culture is so ingrained in Texas that people, no matter what their race, fail to see it in their own lives, Tijerina said. This is what is called Tex-Mex, he said, and it ranges from anything such as food to Spanish phrases even non-Spanish speaking people understand.
“This is why a Texan today, he gets in a car called a ‘Pinto’ or ‘Bronco,’ and he drives down a street he calls ‘Guadalupe,’ and he crosses a river named ‘Colorado,’ and he sits on a ‘patio’ next to a ‘corral’ and eats his ‘barbacoa’,” Tijerina said, sending the crowd into a roar of laughter.
As the crowd calmed down, Tijerina went on to add how the story of Tejanos had stayed silent for far too long.
“Texas is unique, and her story cannot be told without Tejanos,” he said. “This monument tells the story of those Tejanos.”
Servando Hinojosa was proud of the historical moment. The Alice artist was responsible for the wording documenting the meaning of each statue. “This was a long-time coming,” he said. “It justifies our ancestors’ goals to settle Texas. ‘Ya era tiempo’ (It was time) that we acknowledge the contribution of Tejanos to this state.”

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