When I first learned that we had to take children to a cemetery I thought it was strange and scary. Most of the children think the same when we tell them. Skip the explanation as to why you want them to go “see dead people” and jump straight into a world full of history, heroism and pride. Kids are naturally curious and if you take the time to explain what they are seeing they will understand what’s beyond the graves.
The Texas State Cemetery is not like others. Only people that have done a significant contribution to Texas are allowed to be buried there. Some of them were part of the government, others part of the military and some others worked at arts or sports. Don’t worry, you don’t have to learn all this before you come. They have this amazing recordings so you can do a self guided tour through the grounds. Kids love to stand in front of the memorials and listen to the guide. The guide is supposed to be personal, which is why we ask one of the kids to listen to it and then explain what they remember to their friends.
Some of our favourite memorials can actually be related to other places we have visited around Austin. One example is the “Sailor memorial”. It is said that after La Belle’s shipwreck was discovered, they found this one body. They never knew who he was, but they buried him in the cemetery as a memorial for all the french sailors which perished in that catastrophe. The remains of La Belle can be found at the Bob Bullock Museum.
Another great example is the tomb of Albert Sidney Johnston. He was a general with a long military career. Its amazing monument and sculpture is hard to miss. This sculpture was commissioned to Elisabet Ney. She worked on the sculptures of Sam Houston and Stephen F. Austin which are displayed at the Texas State Capitol. She also has a wonderful museum in North Austin.
Plan ahead as there is no food or water allowed inside the cemetery. Make sure to contact them as it is an active cemetery which closes if there is a service. This is a very educative and interesting place with many amazing spots.