In the summer of 2003, I took nine managers to a regional trade show and convention in San Antonio. It’s a big city with a lot of history. Old Spanish missions with awesome entry doors and gates still dot the city. One of those is sacred to Texans. I speak of course of the Alamo.
The whole gang of us went to Morton’s, a fine steak place very close to the Alamo. After they broke me, I suggested we walk the short distance to see the Alamo. It was dark but I assured the skeptics that the Alamo was well lighted and they would be glad they took the time. Some of my people just don’t get out much and had never seen the great shrine of Texas.
When we got to the Alamo there were lots of locals and tourists milling around. Several horse drawn carriages were doing a brisk business. The front of the Alamo was brightly lit and as we came near, I saw Texas Rangers strategically placed around the Alamo. They are always there.
I found the little patch of velvet green ground for which I was looking. In the middle of it was a slab of granite, with an engraved plaque on top. This was what I most wanted the young managers to see. I called them over so they could read the plaque. There was a chain on stakes around this monument that kept us about five feet from it. I watched the faces of the young managers as they read the words on the plaque. It is something I will always remember.
It got even more unforgettable, when all heck broke loose. You see young Wanda from our group had decided to get a closer look at the plaque. She was inside the chain with her face not a foot from the plaque, determined to read it, up close and personal. Let’s just say the Texas Rangers didn’t appreciate her presence inside the chain.
The Rangers came from everywhere, yelling at the top of their lungs, “Mam, get away. Get off the grass. YOU PEOPLE GET BACK! Get away from the monument!” It was quite a scene as they descended upon us. I’m sure the tourists in the area thought we were about to be locked away or tasered of worse. I worked it all out with a sincere apology and the promise we were on our way. Wanda thought it was funny. She was crazy that way.
What were the words on the plaque you ask?
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 wall —– I shall never Surrender or retreat.
I call on you in the name of Liberty, of patriotism & every thing dear to the American character, to come to our aid, with all dispatch —– The enemy is receiving reinforcements daily & 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
P. S. The lord is on our side-When the enemy appeared in sight we had not three bushels of corn— We have since found in deserted houses 80 or 90 bushels & got into the walls 20 or 30 head of Beeves—
The Alamo fell on the thirteenth day of siege, March 6, 1836. As promised, all defenders were put to death and their bodies burned. Just a few weeks later, Sam Houston led enraged Texans in the battle of San Jacinto, near the current city of Houston. The victory was total. Texas was free.
Today, schools all over Texas and many of the 254 counties in Texas bear the names of the Alamo defenders. You could do some good tomorrow for your children, if you could relate the courage and sacrifice of those men of the Alamo.
Our history and our freedom can slip away from us if we don’t share the stories of the pain and the sacrifice of the patriots who preceeded us. The Alamo is not just a story for Texans. After all, Texas is a state of mind that exists wherever people are willing to risk their lives for their freedom.
Courage and freedom. Pass it on.