Saturday, December 10, 2011

Remember the Alamo

I was checking my calendar for upcoming events, appointments and holidays when I noticed one coming up the end of February and early March that I often overlook. This year will be the 175th anniversary of the battle of The Alamo.

With my country going through these hard times, fighting terrorists, struggling with the economy and dealing with a seemingly endless series of natural and man-made disasters at home and around the world, it seemed to me a good time to stop and reflect on the high price we have paid for our freedom. The Alamo was one of those times in history that display that price so very clearly.

For those of you who may not be familiar with 'The Alamo", let me briefly remind you about it. In the early part of 1836 Texas was part of Mexico and the Mexican government, wanting to settle the land and make it profitable had offered land and citizenship to people who were willing to carve out a new life in what was basically wilderness. Many of the people that went to Texas on this promise were Americans looking for new opportunities. The problem started when General Santa Ana became the virtual dictator of Mexico and threw out the Mexican Constitution. That took away the rights of the new citizens in Texas to vote or have any say in their government. It was the old 'suppression of rights' and "taxation without representation" story which has played out, over and over, throughout history. The people of Texas said "No!" and Santa Ana began throwing them into prison or simply having them shot for being defiant of his authority. Revolution broke out. Generalissimo Santa Ana assembled an army and marched on Texas to punish the rebels and bring Texas under his heal once and for all. The Texans had enough and declared their independence. They started recruiting their own army, but Santa Ana was coming too fast for them to get organized and trained, they needed just a little more time.

That's where "The Alamo" becomes important. It was an old mission that stood right in Santa Ana's way. The Texans fortified it and manned it. There were about 180 of them in the mission and Santa Ana had between 4 and 5 thousand troops. Santa Ana, thinking he could just sweep these few rebels out of the way, sent them a simple message, leave Texas or surrender otherwise he would give the order to take no prisoners -anyone who fought would be killed. Instead of surrendering or running away, they stood their ground and held out for 13 days before being overwhelmed. As he had promised, Santa Ana took no prisoners and all the defenders were killed.

As history would have it, Santa Ana's victory at the Alamo delayed him enough that it eventually caused him to loose the war. He was captured and signed away all of Mexico's rights to Texas in exchange for his own life.

To me, the lessons of the Alamo are not found simply in the fact that a battle was fought that made it possible for Texas to win it's independence from Mexico. The remarkable lesson of the Alamo are the questions everyone who hears the story inevitably ask themselves, "How dear is freedom?" "Is it worth that price?" and perhaps the hardest question is "Would I have stayed, knowing that death was the certain outcome?" --Personally, my answer is: "Yes, freedom is worth the price, but I honestly do not know if I would have had the courage to stay facing certain death." I like to think I would, but I honestly do not know for sure. It is that doubt that makes the Battle of The Alamo so extraordinary.

Being a bit of a history buff, I have talked about "The Alamo" many times over the years and I have visited the Alamo in San Antonio on several occasions. I am always surprised how little many people know about it. It is a story which always seems to give people a little glow of pride when they hear it. A story which reminds each us that freedom has a price and a lesson for any government that tries to suppress it's citizens. The men of the Alamo made a down payment on that 'price of liberty' for us --and for that we should all "Remember the Alamo!"

Here is a U tube video I found about The Alamo, I really enjoyed it, I hope you do to:

Here is something else I think is important, it is the text of an actual letter sent by the Commander of the Alamo, Col Travis, during the siege:
Commandancy of the Alamo--
Bejar, Fby 24th 1836--
To the People of Texas & all Americans in the world--
Fellow citizens & compatriots-- I am besieged, by a thousand or more of the Mexicans under Santa Anna--I have sustained a continual Bombardment &
cannonade for 24 hours & have not lost a man -- The enemy has demanded a surrender at discretion, otherwise, the garrison are to be put to the sword, if
the fort is taken -- I have answered the demand with a cannon shot, & our flag still waves proudly from the walls -- I shall never surrender or retreat.
Then, I call on you in the name of Liberty, of patriotism & everything dear to the American character, to come to our aid with all dispatch --
The enemy is receiving reinforcements daily & will no doubt increase to three or four thousand in four or five days. If this call is neglected, I am determined to sustain myself as long as possible & die like a soldier who never forgets what is due to his own honor & that of his country -- Victory or Death
William Barret Travis
Lt. Col. comdt

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