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Most Central Texans are familiar with Andersen as the longtime chief meteorologist at KCEN TV, the local NBC affiliate. While Andersen brings a wealth of knowledge to his weather forecasting duties, he can share plenty about the beginnings of Texas from his years as a historical re enactor.

Away from the studio, though, Andersen is a cowboy. He lives outside of Chilton, where he raises and trains horses. He also owns a couple of antique, horse drawn carriages.

A native Texan, Andersen, 55, was born southwest of Houston in El Campo. He is a member ofa group of re creators and Texas history buffs called The Texas Army of 1836.

Examining Texas past is important, Andersen said. You cant know where youre going if you dont understand where youve been.

The group is chartered by the Texas Governors Office and is made up of a wide variety of Texans. In the re creations they are referred to as Texians, the name for Texas residents at the time.

The re enactment group numbers more than 200 members, including Andersen, who often takes the role of a Mexican in re creations of the war for Texas independence from Mexico. Andersens mother is Mexican; she can trace her roots as far back as 1732 to present day San Antonio. They asked a Houston area cowboy mounted shooter if he knew of anyone who might be interested. He thought of Andersen and contacted him.

Andersen said he was able to put together a rough outfit and found a sword to take part in his first re enactment. Hes been doing it since and has been promoted to captain of the Texian calvary,
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which puts him in charge of recruiting new members.

Andersen said the re enactments are both enjoyable and educational.

You can better understand the history if you live it, he said. Its like walking the walk and not just talking the talk. And anyone who knows the sheer joy of riding a really good horse knows that alone is enough reason.

Remembering the wounded Texans left to die at the chapel in Goliad always puts a chill down my spine, Andersen said.

It takes about two hours to prepare his outfit for a re creation. In addition to the clothes, he must bring his weapons and gear such as a water gourd, bowl, metal drinking cup and utensils for camping out as soldiers would have done.

The muzzle loader he uses is an original that datesto the Alamo period, he said.

Andersen participates in two or three re enactments each year.

But if you are in the dress of the period, you can better understand what the Alamo battle was like in March and what San Jacinto was like in April when the battles were really fought,he said.

The war for Texas independence began in October 1835 and ended at San Jacinto on April 21, 1836.

Re creations are generally scheduled on the dates of the battles. The Texas heat makes some of these uncomfortable, and the burn bans in effect because of hot and dry conditions last year led to some cancellations.

Because of his Hispanic roots, Andersen frequently re enacts the role of Juan Seguin, a hero of San Jacinto who fought on the side of the Texians so heroically that even Santa Anna had praise for him. Gen. Sam Houston gave Seguin the honor of returning to the occupied site of the Alamo to accept the surrender of the Mexican forces that occupied it after the famous battle there.

Andersen believes it is important to keep a connection with the past and notes the likes of Col. William Barret Travis, Davy Crockett, Jim Bowie,
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Houston and Seguin are pretty good role models when todays youth often idolize athletes.