The Battle of the Alamo was fought between the Republic of Texas and Mexico from February 23, 1836 to March 6, 1836. It took place at a fort in San Antonio, Texas called the Alamo. The Mexicans won the battle, killing all of the Texan soldiers inside the fort.
As a child growing up to Fess Parker in the Disney production of the Alamo movie. I promptly found a "coon skin" hat to wear then. I remember the first time I personally visited the Alamo.
I stood in the front plaza for a while, and just took it in. I could see where the new limestones replaced those that had been blown way on the front facia by Santa Anna's cannon fire.
Devoted Texas women, some descendants, of men who died here, had been the trustees of the old mission for many years, the Daughters of the Republic of Texas (DRT) formed in 1895 and began trying to preserve the Alamo. Adina Emilia De Zavala and Clara Driscoll successfully convinced the state legislature in 1905 to purchase the remaining buildings and to name the DRT as the permanent custodian of the site. In 2015 control of the Alamo was given to the Texas General Land Office., and it was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site, July 5, 2015.
But back to my "child's eye" impressions. One thing caught my eye as I walked up to the building. Bullet holes were still evident and are still there today. I touched them, put my finger in them. They were 50 to 70 caliber sized bullet holes. A tangible connection with that battle, that had simply been a movie, or storybook, until then.
To my surprise an overwhelming impact hit me, for as I walked through it had a feel, the spirit inside was a sacred reverence. It seemed more like a holy place, and then while standing in a place where hero’s fought and died. People spoke in hushed tones, and someone pointed out who had died in this or that room. I remembered that Jim Bowie had broken a leg and was bedfast when Mexican troops rushed into his room. The story was that he shot, battled and killed several before they bayoneted him to death.
It hit me. My family had cleared land in West Texas and made farms out of the wilderness of Texas. Our family had owned ranches, cattle, and productive farms, even hit a little oil, in Texas...on what had seemed "worthless" land 185 years earlier. My parents had sweated and worked in farming and later businesses that emerged in small towns and later big cities, that had grown in Texas. I had gone to college, and worked on Wall Street, and became a banker and later owned companies. "It all began because of what those pioneer men, gave here" I thought.
In a way they died for me, and you, so this place, would someday be a home for Texans and later American destiny. But the idea of being a "Texan" is a somewhat unique heritage. The place has been under 6 flags, including it's own "republic". I have often thought, that it is one thing to say you are from Florida, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Arkansas or Indiana. But when one says: "I am a Texan", there is something unique and special. A spirit of determination, hard work, and a heritage that aims toward a destiny. There is a unique "feeling" of connection among those from Texas. I have often said:
"A Texan will disagree with you to your face, he might even knock you down, but he will be the first to give you a hand and help you back up...and say...now lets move forward."
As an example I was driving on a highway into Las Vegas, New Mexico. I noticed a car with two people in it following me, for several miles, and as I parked in a cafe parking lot, the man rolled his window down and said: "I saw your Texas licence plates, and thought you'd know a good place to eat." Funny, and rather nice, those Texans, tend to trust other Texans.
The growth, cultural and economic contributions this place, called Texas would become largely made possible by the inspiration of the story of the Alamo. The impacts of the "Alamo myth of courage" are impossible to fully define. The Alamo, became a historic legend, an important myth, that to this day still defines an attitude "Don't back down", "Stand up for something", "Be willing to fight for what you believe"or "Make something better for being here."
Some years ago, U.S. Congressman Ralph Hall invited me to spend a day with him in Washington, DC. "I want to introduce you to the most influential single political body in the USA", he said. Then he took me to the "Texas Delegation", a regular gathering of Democrats, Republicans, Senators, Congressmen, all elected from Texas. Together they became a formidable force. The idea there was: "Not Democrat, not Republican, but we all work together as Texans for Texas." Texas has become a giant not only in geography, but in political influence and the ability to make things happen. It was an honor when he walked me into the room, and said: "Fellow Texans, I want you to meet a leader, my friend, Ben Boothe, from Fort Worth, Texas." From that time on, I had influential friends in Washington....most of them from Texas. I had a thought...."It all started at the Alamo...". Some people think of the "Yellow Rose of Texas" as a folksy song, for children. But there is another level to that song. For many it was the song of the pretty young Texas girl that folk history tells. The story goes, that Sam Houston sent her to entertain and distract Santa Anna, while Houston was about to attack at San Jacinto. So when a Texan sings that song, he is singing a song of history and recognition for her part in the battle for Texas. It was said then, that Santa Anna was slow to respond while in her arms. Later, he had a wooden leg, that was eventually held by a Texan, which years later became focus of a diplomatic ruckus between Texas and Old Mexico. Some like to comment, (whether it is true or not) that Santa Anna may have lost both his lover, his leg, and his war, all to Texas. If true, methinks that he probably would have missed his leg the most. Texans used to laugh that they were just "pulling his leg", in the matter. I think, Texas eventually returned his wooden leg as a diplomatic olive leaf to Mexico, a few years ago.
The men who died fighting for Texas at the Alamo, and later Houston's rag tag army at San Jacinto believed they were fighting for land and for a new nation. The Alamo was known to them as an 'impossible to win battle' that created a mythic inspiration, a “cause to inspire” that motivated others to battle on in other places and to claim this place and time as their own. Thus 185 years ago began a battle of the Alamo, when the hopeless 13 days, gave time for Sam Houston to move and organize his troops to attack Santa Anna. The Alamo and to a lessor degree, the battle of San Jacinto energized men (and women) then and now. Because of these mythic efforts then, today, years later the time and place can still inspire and energize great causes and battles 185 years later.
Texans have a stubborn, determination as these two old historic flags from early Texas suggest. One the yellow rose, the other the Texas cannon.
If a person is lucky enough to live, stand for, fight for and die for something that might inspire heroism and determination...that person is blessed. Forgive me, if I say this. That "Texas" grit and determination has enlivened my life, and motivated me to meet and befriend great people from all over the world. I value these friendships with great people around this globe. But one thing they all know. "Ben Boothe, is a Texan. There abides his heritage and roots."
Remember The Alamo!