I just got back from a quick weekend getaway to San Antonio, a quintessential Texas city I never previously visited but enjoyed during the short time I was there. Mostly, my friend and I went for sports fan purposes, taking in an NBA, college football and college basketball game in roughly a 24-hour period. But being the history nerd that I am, there was no way I could go to San Antonio and not see The Alamo. That it was Veteran’s Day weekend made it an emotional journey.
When you see The Alamo for the first time, located smack dab in the middle of San Antonio’s urban jungle, you’re first taken back by how much smaller it is than you must have assumed given how much of a symbol this landmark is to Texas pride. But then as you walk through the other tourist hordes and find a rare quiet corner to yourself, it hits you how miserable those 32 volunteers must have been during the 13 days they spent waiting for the Mexican army to overwhelm them. Death was surely preordained and anticipated.
During that time, the doomed men were not defending United States soil, but they were all patriots in their own right (As I scanned the list defenders in The Alamo visitor’s center, I was taken back the number of Irishmen who were in the fort, nameless individuals lost in the shuffle of The Alamo’s “celebrities” like David Crockett, Jim Bowie, William Travis and others who we read about in books or see portrayed in Hollywood by Billy Bob Thornton, Jason Patric and Patrick Wilson).
I have no military background, and while my dad is a Navy veteran, I can only get a small sense of what these and other veterans of wars spanning generations went through. I’ve visited Civil War battlefields, World War II museums, battleships and aircraft carriers. The common theme that’s always struck me is how dedicated these men and women – the ones who survived and gave their lives for their country – have been and continue to be during these turbulent times.
Please remember all those who fought for our freedom today.