Friday´s historic return of William Barret Travis´ “victory or death” letter to the Alamo is seen by some as a rebirth for the state shrine — a new way to remember the Alamo. What it could mean is more signs and better displays, storytelling and narration; holistic approaches to the site´s evolution from a Spanish mission to 1836 battle site and U.S. Army depot; and reverence befitting an American Indian burial ground. Despite being celebrated in movies and books as a symbol of freedom, where nearly 200 Texian rebels died as martyrs for independence,
Comments: The Travis letter breaks my heart. He was 26 years old.
Get the Texas flags ready, fellow Texans. March 2 is Texas Independence Day, March 6 is Alamo Day and April 21 is San Jacinto Day.
I´ve only ever felt a frisson of awe, for lack of a better word, at two places - The Alamo and Antietam. Both places took my breath away, and I could FEEL the magnitude of what had happened there. God bless Texas. Remember the Alamo!
For those who are interested, here is a little video with a background of "El Deguello", which signifies No Quarter, No Mercy. Legend has it that Santa Ana placed 14 military bands around the Alamo on March 6, 1836, so everyone inside would be sure to hear. All knew they would probably die that day. Here is a little video of an Alamo historian whistling El Deguello and telling a bit about it. Ignore the sound of the Texas wind, it´s always blowing.
I felt the same way about Antietam. You could feel the death in Bloody Lane. I was only a child and I felt it deeply.
The Alamo, not so much. I saw it in the 70s, and the whole city had been built up around it, making it seem pretty small and swallowed up. I understand that the state has spent a lot of money on the park and museum since then, so perhaps it is different now.
For interested people, one can see vintage photos from Antietam and other battlefields on the Parks Service website:
I just checked to see the status of Alamo Village, which was a fun destination back in the day, and learned that it has closed down due to the deaths of owners. It was the set where the John Wayne movie was filmed. I just read that Lomesome Dove was filmed there as well. It´s a shame that it closed, because it was more of a real Alamo experience than the actual shrine.
FTA: "Martin Vasquez grew up with the movie image of John Wayne as Crockett but has come to appreciate the dedication of Mexican soldiers who marched through snow during the grueling Texas campaign and charged at the Alamo with ladders and bayonets, prepared to die for their homeland."
The Mexican empire was established in 1821, a mere 15 years before the Alamo siege. Texas, particularly the area north and east of Bexar (San Antonio) to the US border, was not the "homeland" of the Mexican conscripts under Santa Anna, a brutal dictator who had already plunged the fledgling Mexican empire into civil war.
Native (and warring) Indian tribes were still the majority population but Anglos, at the invitation of Spain, had been flooding in prior to the creation of Mexico. The Mexican population was small, around 5,000, by comparison and many chose to side with the Texans. That is one reason why 42 Texas counties are named after those with Spanish surnames, like Garza, Zavalla, and Navarro.
Many who visit the Alamo may not realize that the remaining buildings are only a small part of what actually constituted the fort, primarily the chapel remains. Also, for those who enjoyed Bracketville, the village is not the same size as the original. It´s a 75% replication.
Many years ago Mrs. Know-It-All and I took a little "get away" trip to San Antonio for a couple of days. Ended up staying in the Emily Morgan Hotel right across the street from the Alamo. I could gaze out of our 6th floor window and look down on it. That was way cool.
And while we were there one evening I noticed lights and cameras being set up outside of the Alamo entrance. Turns out Robert Stack was there to film an intro to an episode of "Unsolved Mysteries" that was about a treasure that was rumored to have been hidden by the defenders but never found.
That was one of the most enjoyable vacations I ever had.
A great deal of nonsense about the Alamo has been spread by the politically correct left. They portray the formation of the Lone Star Republic as the theft of Mexican land by a bunch of racist Anglos--fifth columnists moving in from the USA.
Santa Anna headed a military junta that seized power after the elected president of Mexico was assassinated. Several other Mexican States (Yucatan and Sinaloa I believe- but my memory is failing)declared independence, besides Texas--they also didn´t want to live under a dictatorship headed by "the Napoleon of the New World"! A large contingent of Latinos were among the heroes who died at the Alamo.
Seen as a site of battle, folks expect the Valero Mission Chapel to be a fort,repletewith loopholes and cannonball marks. It is a tomb, a solemn place. Texas´ Revolution was about the constitution of Mexico, written in 1824, a fine document thrown out by the dictator Santa Anna. Almost everyone involved with the actual paper and pen work of independence, including starting the original troubles down at the taxhouse at Anahuac, were lawyers.Everything was done with legal precision, requests were denied, rebellion declared by the numbers. It as all done lawfully and we in these times ought to take heed of the US goverment´s LACK of legality vis-a-vis our own Constitution. Still and quiet, the Cradle of Texas liberty stands, covering just a tiny part of the original Valero Mission grounds. Much like the area where Pickett charged in PA. one can feel the doom that waited for barely 200 men trying to man such a large enclosure. Not many people even know the names of the saints once represented by statuary, in the niches out front. When I was a kid, someone broke into the place and stole David Crockett´s possessions, and some guns and knives, by simply moving an airconditioner aside. Things are far better these days...new roof long ago, a new stone replacing the broken one which allowed leakage,up by the left hand window cut by the Army in 1848-9. It´s a serious place in the midst of a very commercial downtown....and we are lucky to have it still.
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