Review Topic: Sights & Attractions
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The Alamo, site of a big battle that results in Jim Bowie and Davey Crocket getting killed. It's in Texas, that was about all I knew about it before last week. OH, and The Alamo doesn't have a basement, I learned that from Pee Wee's Big Adventure.
I now know much more about The Alamo, and you will too, if you keep reading.
The Alamo was originally a home to missionaries, and called Mision San Antonio de Valero, until the early 1800s when the Spanish Military stationed a cavalry unit there. At this point, the former Mision became known as The Alamo, which is Spanish for Cottonwood. The first recorded hospital in Texas was then established in a section of The Alamo.
You know something about a battle occurring here, so this is what happened:
In December of 1835 a battle began against the Mexican troops who were living in the city, they were forced back into the Alamo, and then forced to surrender. So now the Texans are in The Alamo and proceeded to strengthen its' defenses. Then along comes the infamous General Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna. (Never a good sign when a General has that many names) And on February 23, 1836, the fighting began.
Desperate pleas for help were sent out by courier to communities in Texas, resulting in only 32 volunteers from Gonzales. This brought the number of people defending The Alamo, to almost 200 people. Did I fail to mention the attacking army numbered over 1000?
For 13 days the defenders of The Alamo held out.
Finally, the Mexican Army was able to infiltrate The Alamo. Time after time they had attempted to scale the walls by ladder and overwhelm the defenders, but each time the defenders repelled the Mexicans. Until the morning of March 6, 1836. Just before daybreak the Mexicans stormed the Alamo, scaled the walls, and got inside. They turned the cannons around, blasted open the long barracks, and the Church, and proceeded to go to hand to hand combat with the remaining defenders. Killing the defenders was not enough for Santa Anna and his uncivilized army. They found the need to take all the bodies and butcher them, then pile them up and burn them. There were survivors of the Alamo, none were defenders, they were children, one woman, and a servant.
The Alamo is a sacred shrine in Texas, it stands for liberty, and the ultimate sacrifice for freedom against overwhelming odds.
When visiting The Alamo, READ THE SIGNS!
Idiots will do the following:
Fail to remove their hats inside the Church.
Touch the walls.
All these things are not to be done. If you lack all tact and are a total moron, you will leave your hat on, and the security guards will have to come over and tell you to take the hat off. At which point you will ask him why you have to. I will then tell you because the sign says so, didn't you read it? (I can't stand some people, they lack all tact)
My first impression of The Alamo was that it is incredibly small. The actual structure that remains is no bigger in square feet than my house. It was only after, when I looked at the diagrams, that I was able to see what The Alamo looked like before the siege.
Remaining today are the Church, and the long barrack museum, which was built using remains of the long barrack. Some of the surrounding walls remain also. Inside the church are the doors of The Alamo, you can see bullet holes and other damage done to them, along with the bullet holes the walls sustained in the battle.
Inside the Church are a few rooms with artifacts from the defenders of The Alamo, Davey Crocket's vest is there, along with guns from the time, and a ring the commander, William Travis, gave to a woman (one of the survivors) in The Alamo. Also there is a section currently roped off, which, during recent restoration, a fresco dating from the Mission Period, has thought to have been discovered. There is also a small marker near where the Crucifix would have been where remains of unidentified people, thought to be the Priests of The Alamo, have been interred. The list of names of those who died, and the flags of where they were from are inside the Church, along with models of the attack, and a guest book to sign. Leaving the Church takes you into the courtyard, where there is an enormous tree. This tree was planted by someone who wanted to prove he could transplant fully grown trees. It worked.
Outside you will see a well which dates back to the Mission Period, and various donated cannons from the period of the attack. There is also the Wall of History, which begins with the history of The Alamo, and continues to modern times. This wall will tell you that General Santa Anna, was eventually captured, and actually allowed to leave alive, after signing a treaty which he failed to live up to. I believe this began the period in America of failing to finish wars and leaving powerful enemies in positions of power.
Along with everything else outside, are waterways filled with big goldfish, also known as Koi. This waterway is said to be the remains of the irrigation system that served the Spanish communities along the San Antonio River.
Inside The Long Barrack Museum is an exhibit telling the story of the siege of The Alamo, the letters asking for help, and the response saying there will be no help. The Museum tells the story of various defenders, and houses replicas of uniforms worn by the Mexican Army at the time. Also included are artifacts, clothing and guns of the time, and paintings of what happened.
Of course there is the gift shop, which houses more models depicting the siege, some Bowie knives, and guns; and of course a bunch of stuff to buy.
The Alamo receives no money from any government organization. It is cared for solely by The Daughters of the Republic of Texas. They depend solely on money from donations and proceeds from the gift shop to preserve The Alamo.
Admission to The Alamo is free and it is open everyday except for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, Monday-Saturday 9-5:30, and Sunday 10-5:30.
The Alamo is small, but an incredible place in the history of Texas. For 13 days the defenders held off the Mexican Army, outnumbered, with no hope of help, and certain they were going to die, they fought to the last man. Then died in fierce battle, and had their bodies desecrated by a disrespectful army.
The Alamo really makes you reflect on the Freedoms which we take for granted today, the price which was paid for those freedoms, and the value people placed on living free back then. It's a sacrifice and a price paid which most of us will never truly be able to comprehend.
The Alamo really is a sacred place. Take your hat off.