What a monument to the brave men who would not back down, run away, or surrender for the sake of freedom!Here's an account of our day at the Alamo...
We rose bright and early Tuesday, so we could be one of the first in line at the Alamo. Thankfully, most of the Memorial Day crowd was gone. It took us about 10 minutes to walk from the hotel to the tourist site...so strange to see it standing in the middle of a busy downtown area!
We viewed the sound and light diorama first, which gave us a mental image of the complex in the 1800's, and the order of events at the time of the 13 day siege.
Our first stop on the tour was the Mission Church. Its facade is the remaining symbol of the Alamo (which, by the way, means "cottonwood"). It was originally a home for Catholic missionaries and their converts, then, in the 1800's, a cavalry post for Spanish, then Rebel, and finally Mexican forces after their independence. Here the defenders would have kept the powder magazine and positioned the artillery. The inner room of the structure was also where the women and children where hiding, and the last area attacked by Santa Anna's army. A list of the 180 fallen patriots were memorialized on plaques inside. I was surprised to discover they had immigrated from other states, the British Isles and Germany.
Why did they fight against all odds, and what were the events leading up to that fateful day? Here it is in a nutshell:
Mexico, now free from Spain, writes a constitution for their new Republic. Santa Anna promises to honor the constitution and is sworn in as President. To develop the Northern territory of Mexico, Santa Anna invites homesteaders to Texas from the US, British Isles and Europe. The immigrants settle down, and, later, desire to free Texas from the Mexicans. Santa Anna, fearing revolt from the huge number of settlers, revokes their constitution, and installs himself as dictator.
San Antonio city was one half mile from the Alamo, and prime property, so it was desirable to both the Mexican government and the Texians, and thus, worth fighting for. The Revolutionists comprised militia from the surrounding areas, Colonel Wm. Travis, James Bowie (renowned knife fighter), and David Crockett, frontiersman and former Tennessee congressman. The group gather their defenses, and prepare to fight for freedom and the Republic. Travis writes to General Sam Houston and his army, miles away, to ask for reinforcements. He cannot come immediately, and does not understand the gravity of the situation. After four pleas are sent throughout the community, on the 8th day of the siege, 32 men answer the call from Gonzales...but they are still outnumbered: 180 to 3,000.
Before dawn, on the 13th day of March in 1836, Santa Anna's army, after awaking the sleeping patriots with cannon and gun fire, begin to scale the walls of the Alamo. Miraculously, the defenders beat back several attacks. Finally, the Mexican army rushes over the walls and into the compound. They turn the Alamo's cannon against them and blast open the barricaded doors of the church...the last defense. The defenders struggle to the death, but are overwhelmed, and by sunrise all are massacred. The only remaining survivors are Travis's black slave and the women and children hiding in the church, but about 1,100 Mexican soldiers lose their lives....
Was this a useless loss of lives? It would seem so, but God worked it out for their good!
When the news of the defeat reached the town and beyond, Sam Houston's army was incensed. Preparing for battle in three weeks, and with the cry, "Remember the Alamo!" they imprisoned Santa Anna and destroyed his army. Texas became a Republic...freedom was won! I can see why Texans are proud of their State, and why they treasure and protect the freedoms they hold so dear.
Another kind of hero is celebrated at the US Army Medical Department Museum, in the Fort Sam Houston Compound. Their motto is, "Service Above Self". The collection includes medical equipment, photos, uniforms, insignias and vehicles from 1777 to the present. Did you know there is a Veterinary division, too? They take care of horses, dogs, and all other creatures that aid in the wars (think: "War Horse"). All medical personnel put their lives on the line for those they serve...this, too, was impressive, but in an entirely different way. They deserve our respect...