San Jancinto Museum of History

Relics of Achievement


An intricately crafted medal awarded for valor or service in the field… a bejeweled crown worn by a beauty queen… a silver cup given for meritorious actions… commemorative medals designed by well-known artists granted to individuals and institutions for scholarship. These items, be they made of precious metals and encrusted with precious gems, enamels and other luxurious materials or as simple as a sheet of paper conferring thanks and appreciation, have a history that stretches back to early civilization and evidence of these relics of achievement are found in almost every ancient culture.  

In the first hundred years of American statehood, the United States as a nation awarded few decorations or medals, as the American people generally considered them to be undemocratic in nature and the symbols of European monarchies. While the government did not begin awarding decorations on a large scale until World War I, secular groups offered numerous awards for merit or to confer authority. Opening in late May 2013 and open through the summer, this lobby exhibit will feature artifacts awarded for a variety of reasons and actions. These include county fair ribbons, a silver napkin ring won as a prize for needlework at the Texas State Fair in 1878, a commemorative medal marking the Sesquicentennial of the United States Military Academy, certificates awarding land and funds to veterans of the Texas Revolution and a crown worn by the Duchess of San Jacinto in the 2009 “Court of the Century” at Fiesta San Antonio.