Capitol Hall Report – Remember the Alamo!

Nothing stirs the hearts of a true Texan more than the battle cry, “Remember the Alamo!”

The Alamo is the shrine of Texas independence and has been since the last shot rang out over the fort’s walls in 1836. But over the years, the Alamo has suffered abuse from the elements, 19th-century construction, city encroachment, and half-hazard restoration projects.

Countless generations of Texans remember their family pilgrimages to visit the Alamo. The coonskin hats, toy muskets and plastic Bowie knives purchased as souvenirs have fueled many a re-enactment of the battle that left no Texan in the battle alive. Designated as a Texas State Shrine, the site is both a place to reverence liberty and honor those men who sacrificed their lives against insurmountable odds in hope of buying time for the small Texan army to regroup.

Not many Texans would disagree with the need to ensure that the Alamo is restored and preserved for future generations. In 2015 the Texas Legislature tasked the General Land Office (GLO) with formulating a plan to address the multitude of issues facing the Alamo. Regrettably, the GLO got off on the wrong foot by naming the restoration project “Re-imagine the Alamo.”

During the planning process, many Texas citizens have raised concerns about the relocation of the Alamo Cenotaph, which lists the names of the Defenders, the relocation of the current free speech zone, removal of historic trees from Alamo Plaza and the controlling role the United Nations may have over the “re-imagining” as it is currently planned.

The City of San Antonio owns the cenotaph and plans to repair the monument, as well as add the names of additional defenders not known at the time of the construction of the cenotaph in 1939.  Upon completion of the restoration work, the city will decide where to place the cenotaph. Unfortunately, their current plan is to relocate the cenotaph outside the Alamo Fort walls.

But, while the Alamo is located in San Antonio, the Shrine and its history do not belong to the city of San Antonio. They belong to the people of Texas and all American lovers of liberty.

The current “re-imagining” plans for the Alamo include “contextualizing” the history around the Alamo with the emphasis on the evolution of settlements and cultures around the Alamo area. The plan also calls for telling the story of the 1836 Battle of the Alamo with an exploration of the six known political factions at the time. The document detailing the plan includes the directive, “Include the Mexican perspective of the Battle of the Alamo which was that Mexicans believed Texas and other territories were stolen.” However, if the “re-imagining” fails to strongly emphasize that it was the revocation of the Mexican Constitution of 1824 that caused the Texas settlers to pick up arms and reclaim their liberty, then it will have rewritten history. This must not happen.

While focusing on the early history of the missions along the San Antonio River may be a worthwhile endeavor, it should not be allowed to detract from the true significance that the Alamo represents for Texans and for freedom lovers around the world. The Alamo Management Committee, City of San Antonio, and the State of Texas all have a responsibility to preserve and promote the an accurate historical heritage of the site. Texans declared independence at Washington on the Brazos and sealed it at the Battle of San Jacinto. But it is the Alamo that was baptized with the blood of the martyrs for liberty that Texans hold so dear.

I will be working with other concerned legislators to draft a Constitutional Amendment to be considered in the upcoming legislative session. If passed by the people, the Texas State Constitution will recognize that the Alamo is a state treasure and any plans to change the historical narrative will have to be approved by a super majority of the State Legislature.

Personally, I will draw a line in the sand when it comes to moving, altering or erasing the historical importance of the Alamo or any other historical monument.  The Alamo restoration plan should not be about “re-imagining” the Alamo or “contextualizing” its history, but ensuring that the historical importance of the site is preserved to stir the heart of young and old alike as the story of the courage and fortitude of the men who fought and died on that glorious day in March 1836.