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Remember The Alamo? Let’s NOT

November 4, 2022

I watched a movie tonight. It was an old movie about the Alamo. It had a young Alec Baldwin as the heroic Col Travis. An aging James Arness of Gunsmoke fame, was Jim Bowie. Brian Keith, also older actor played Davy Crockett.

The story was the one we all remember, 179 heroic Texans hold off thousands of evil Mexicans at a small mission in San Antonio. I didn’t like it. The movie was done well enough, despite being a made for TV movie. But, I was not able to sufficiently suspend my disbelief.

I love, or rather, I used to love the story of the Alamo. There’s a Johnny Cash song about it that I know by heart. I actually got a chance to visit the historic site in San Antonio. One of my favorite stories is the story of the Marriot hotel in San Antonio. Marriot wanted to build a 20 story hotel, but it became clear that the shadow of such a large building would, at times fall on remains of the Alamo mission. Since it is now designated as a war memorial, the hotel had to be shortened. It’s against code for anything to shadow a war memorial.

Walking through that historic building was moving. The floors of the chapel are stone. The same floors that Bowie, and Travis and Crockett walked. The floors that ran red with their spilt blood. Blood spilt for betrayal and slavery.

Wait, what?

Yes. The story of the Alamo is not exactly like I remember it. And I can’t think about it the same way again. The movie rightly pointed out that in 1824 the Mexican government (who owned what was then Texas) invited Americans to come to Texas. They were given land and opportunity. There was one pretty significant restriction: No slaves.

Mexico had outlawed slavery and they insisted that Americans coming to Texas had to abandon the practice of slavery. It was a condition of their immigration.

The problem? The Americans weren’t ready to give up their slaves. Forty thousand of them came to Texas and many brought their slaves. In fact, the movie even made reference to Jim Travis’ slave. The character, based on a real person, survived the attack on the Alamo.

Why was Santa Anna attacking Texas? Why was he attacking the Alamo?

Because the Americans refused to abide by their agreements and abandon slavery.

The fight wasn’t about freedom. It wasn’t about an oppressive dictator trying to kill Texans. It started and ended with the desire by the Texans to keep and encourage slavery. That’s what Santa Anna was fighting them over.

It’s said that history is written by the victors. The Union won the Civil War. The North got to write the history. And it was simple: Slavery was bad and we fought a war to end it. (Okay, it wasn’t that simple, but it also wasn’t a lot more complicated.)

Mexico lost the war with Texas. So, the Texans, got to write the history. The brave Texans held off the mighty Mexican Army. Then, they were massacred. (Ever notice that the winners in history never massacred anyone? It was always the losers who were the murders.)

History wasn’t quite that simple.

I’ll never be able to listen to the story of the Alamo the same again.

Stay safe

Rodney M Bliss is an author, columnist and IT Consultant. His blog updates every weekday. He lives in Pleasant Grove, UT with his lovely wife, thirteen children and grandchildren. Order Miscellany III A Collection of Holiday Short Stories, an anthology including his latest short story, “You Can Call Me Dan” here

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