Just a Thought: “Remember the Alamo AS IS!” By Steve Walker The San Antonio City Council in 2017 in the May 11 Council meeting took a major first step toward returning Alamo Plaza to its historic roots. They wanted to approve a defined public space, with the majority of vehicle traffic removed. They also voted to have the Alamo Cenotaph built in the1930s in the front of the Alamo to be restored and relocated somewhere else. Many San Antonio residents and Alamo lovers around the country are really upset that the council not only wants to change the look of the Alamo, but move the Cenotaph and alter it somewhat. The Alamo Cenotaph, also known as the Spirit of Sacrifice, is a monument commemorating the Battle of the Alamo and was fought at the adjacent, Alamo Mission. The monument was erected in celebration of the battle, and bears the names of those known to have fought there on the Texas side. Although there had been previous plans for Alamo monuments, starting in the late 1800s, the Alamo Cenotaph was the first such erected in San Antonio. During the 1936 Texas Centennial celebration, the state of Texas provided $100,000 for the monument, commissioned from local sculptor Pompeo Coppini. Then San Antonio Mayor Maury Maverick held a dedication ceremony on November 11, 1940. Recently I attended two different Citizens to be Heard sessions in the Council chambers with very vocal residents that are not happy and speaking out against the removal. The last one on June 13th only the Mayor and Councilwoman Rebecca Viagran were not present.The controversy over the removal of the Cenotaph is gaining steam. In March we celebrated the official State Holiday for Texas Independence. On that day 59 people signed the Texas Declaration of Independence document. Settlers officially broke from Mexico creating the Republic of Texas. The “Battle of the Alamo” was a significant part of that history which led to the signing of that document. Texas History reminds us of the famous “Battle of the Alamo” that was fought in 1836 from February 23rd to March 6th. Texas students in particular are taught in school that it was a pivotal event in the Texas Revolution. The first time I remember visiting the Alamo was in 1956 when my family moved here from Dallas. We were here one whole week when we drove down to the plaza to see it. I remember how excited I got at the time thinking about the chance to walk through the Alamo and see all the historical treasures. Over the years I have re-visited it many times. As a 10-year-old 5th grader recently enrolled at St. Gregory’s Catholic School in Balcones Heights, we were ecstatic when my parents took my then 4 younger brothers and me to see the historic shrine. My fifth younger brother Sam was privileged to be born in San Antonio in 1959. Since my fellow classmates had already learned about the Alamo since 3rdgrade, I had a lot of catching up to do. Unfortunately we moved again in 1960 up north and I didn’t get the opportunity to take a course in high school on Texas History. Fortunately I came back in1972 and even taught classes on Texas History. The Alamo began as the San Antonio de Valero, a Spanish Mission, in the early 1700’s, one of the first in Texas. The establishment of this mission played a crucial role in the settlement of San Antonio, and the Southwest. Those of you fortunate to have lived here all your life grew up already knowing that. I came to it much later. I later learned that historically in 19th-century Texas, the Alamo complex gradually was touted as a battle site rather than a former mission. We know the Texas Legislature purchased the land and buildings in the early part of the 20th century and designated the Alamo chapel as an official Texas State Shrine. The Alamo is now “the most popular tourist site in Texas.” Tourists from all over the United States and other countries as well, swarm to the Alamo. Many Americans from elsewhere, however, are more familiar with the myths and legends handed down including the 1950s Disney miniseries, and the 1960 film “The Alamo.” I would point out some Hispanics who fought at the Alamo include: Juan Abamillo, José Arocha, Simon Arreola, Juan A. Badillo, Ansselmo Bergara, Cesario Carmona, Antonio Cruz y Arocha, Alexandro De la Garza, Lucio Enriques, Jose Gregorio Esparza, Manuel Flores, and Antonio Fuentes to name just a few. Since there is more to come on this painful process, along with more citizens speaking out, “Remember the Alamo” should be proclaimed “Remember the Alamo AS IS!” And as always, what I write is “Just a Thought.” Steve Walker is a Vietnam Veteran and former Justice of the Peace and Journalist Alamo Public meetings were held this week On June 18-21. Texas grassroots citizens lined up to tell the San Antonio City Council to protect the Alamo Cenotaph and do away with plans from local officials to relocate the historic monument. Commissioned on the centennial anniversary of the Battle of the Alamo, the Cenotaph serves as a tombstone for the men who gave their lives in the fight for Texas independence at the storied site, as noted in a prominent inscription on the monument’s base: Erected in memory of the heroes who sacrificed their lives at the Alamo, March 6, 1836, in the defense of Texas. They chose never to surrender nor retreat; thesebrave hearts, with flag still proudly waving, perished in the flames of immortality that their high sacrifice might lead to the founding of this Texas. Land Commissioner George P. Bush has come under fire from members of the conservative grassroots for his “Reimagine the Alamo” initiative. La Prensa Texas was there to live stream the meetings. Though the city did a great job with their presentation, citizens were not happy with their proposed plans. Will we “Remember the Alamo” or will we “Re-imagine the Alamo?” Only time will tell.. To see the recorded live meetings, go to La Prensa Texas Facebook page.
About The Author
Steve Walker is a Vietnam Veteran, former Justice of the Peace and Journalist.
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