Why September is My Favorite Month

The famous Battle of the Berg Trophy.

I love September in Texas! The Friday Night Lights of Fort Bend high school football are shining brightly all over our county.  The Battle of the Berg between Lamar Consolidated and B.F. Terry gets things rolling on September 2nd.  By the end of September, Katy will be undefeated and beginning to think about their eleventh Texas state title – no surprise.  The huge surprise will be the utter smack down my Rice Owls will put on the Southern California Trojans in Los Angeles on September 3rd. I will bet all the cash I can find on my Owls. The game will be over after halftime. The Trojan Marching Band has never defeated my MOB (Marching Owl Band), and it ain’t happenin’ in 2022.  It is not even close. September football and marching bands are Fort Bend Strong.

The final resting place of the Sugar Land 95 at sunset.

Labor Day is the only federal holiday in September.  It occurs on the first Monday of the month. Congress passed a law in 1894 to recognize the contributions union workers made to America’s prosperity.  In Fort Bend, we need to modify our Labor Day 2022 celebration to honor the contributions of the Sugar Land 95 and other Convict Lease slaves who made our sugar refinery and our home town thrive after the Civil War.  Since the owners of the sugar refinery only leased the convicts from the local prison, the owners did not care if the convicts lived or died – work them to death and get another.  Ninety-five victims (94 men and 1 woman) were discovered in February 2019 during construction of the James Reese Career and Technical Center.  All of the graves were unmarked.  The cemetery is now called the Bullhead Camp Cemetery, and it is located at University Drive and Chatham Avenue. Drop by when you have a chance.  Tour information is available on the Fort Bend ISD website at https://www.fortbendisd.com/Page/143976. These once-forgotten human beings were not perfect, like all of us, but their brutal lives helped make Fort Bend Strong.

A family welcomes a hero home to Texas.

The third Friday of every September is a very somber remembrance of American heroes that, sadly, most of us forget:  National Prisoner Of War/ Missing In Action (POW/MIA) Recognition Day. This is a day I celebrate because God blessed me with a friendship that will exist forever.  I met Vietnam POW Sam Johnson while I served in Congress, and I have the eternal honor to call him “dear friend.”

Sam was one of the best fighter pilots in history of the United States Air Force. On April 16, 1966, while flying his 25th combat mission over North Vietnam, he was shot down and captured.  For nearly seven years, he was tortured daily.  Sam resisted his barbaric Vietcong guards so fiercely that he was removed from the Hanoi Hilton to Alcatraz.  There, he withstood 42 months in solitary confinement in a three foot by nine foot concrete box.  The bright lights in Sam’s cell were never turned off.  He was severely beaten if he spoke English. The enemy permanently disabled his right hand because that was the hand that dropped weapons on North Vietnam. The ultimate war fighter became a crippled, 120-pound walking skeleton when he was released on February 12, 1973.   He was so repulsed after seeing himself in a mirror for the first time in seven years that he feared being reunited with family. How could they love this hideous creature? God made sure Sam had nothing to fear as this photograph of Sam coming home to Texas to hold his wife, Shirley, and his children, Gini, Beverly and Bob, clearly shows.  We lost Sam on May 27, 2020.  I still miss him. POWs and MIAs will always make Fort Bend Strong.

Sam and Shirley Johnson: A kiss. — My daughter Kate with Colonel Sam in the Capitol Complex. — Father Hidalgo.

Nancy and Pete Olson.

One of the oldest holidays Texans celebrate is our first rebellion for independence from a foreign nation. It is not the battle of the Alamo or Goliad or San Jacinto.  It was a “Grito de Delores” – a cry for action to the citizens of the town of Delores, New Spain to rise up and break away from Spain. The Grito was delivered by Priest Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla on September 16, 1810.  Father Hidalgo was betrayed and executed by the Spanish on July 30, 1811. His courage started the fires for a free Mexico, which led to Mexico’s true independence in 1821. Back then, Texas was part of Mexico. That is why Texans celebrate Diez y Sies de Septiembre. That’s Fort Bend Strong.

Finally, the best day I will ever have in my life is September 25th. On that day in 1993, I watched this tall, blonde, intelligent, gorgeous woman walk down the aisle at Brentwood Presbyterian Church to join me in Holy Matrimony. Nancy and I will celebrate our twenty-ninth anniversary this year. We’re still laughing and our love only grows.

Enjoy this September because every day is Fort Bend Strong!