Courtesy / Texas General Land Office
Texas boasts some of the most interesting and amazing history in the world. How many states can claim to have sacrificed so much to fight off a dictator and become its own country? How many states boast names like David Crockett, Juan Seguin, Emily Morgan, Sam Houston, Lorenzo de Zavala, and Susanna Dickinson? We have Gonzales and “Come and Take it,” the Alamo and Fort Defiance, the shocking victory at San Jacinto, the Runaway Scrape, the constitutional convention and the humane treatment of an inhumane tyrant.
Texas has it all.
I am privileged to live Texas history every day leading the Texas Independence Trail Region, so I have observed the Alamo plan as it progressed with a keen eye. I am also a San Antonio native. I joined the Alamo Citizens Advisory Committee to have some direct input.
I am more than a history buff. Texas history is my passion and my career.
Like you, I have recently seen the Alamo plans proposed by the Alamo Master Plan Management Committee and the design team. I commend the committee and the designers for creating a serious plan that always keeps the Alamo’s needs first and foremost.
As a San Antonio native, I naturally have concerns about the closure of South Alamo Street. Our hometown parades have used that street for more than 100 years, so it’s a tradition. Some change in the route may be necessary in order to preserve and protect, not only The Alamo, but the people during these festive times. We are still trying to reach an agreement.
I have also been concerned that the plaza stay open as much as possible, and that the Alamo footprint has its integrity restored. These are somewhat contradictory concerns, but many share them. The Alamo plan takes these concerns and more into account, demonstrating awareness of all of the many sensitivities surrounding the Alamo while seeking first to simply protect the place and its history.
I am most excited to see the Alamo finally treated as a true destination, with a state-of-the-art museum and a unified site which will enable it to tell its story better. A stronger, more purposeful Alamo will be great for San Antonio. It will also be great for interest and scholarship in Texas history.
For example, if the renewed Alamo tells its story better than it has been able to, it could spark new interest in the Texas Revolution as a whole. We have more than two dozen historic sites stretching across southeast Texas, managed by various entities and agencies. A stronger Alamo strengthens all of these sites by tying them to this grand Texas story. A stronger Alamo may inspire a generation of students, who may become artists, historians, writers, re-enactors, film makers, even video game makers, who take the Alamo story to new heights and places. This is a role the Alamo is uniquely positioned to play, and through this plan, it will be equipped to play it.
A renewed and invigorated Alamo presents many tantalizing possibilities. We develop and encourage living history programs at Texas Independence Trail sites whenever possible. So I can picture the Alamo’s historic battlefield hosting large-scale living history programs and events in the future. That’s why relocating the Cenotaph makes sense. Where it stands, it takes up a large amount of space on a small footprint. By relocating the Cenotaph just to the south, the historic space is cleared and the Alamo’s leaders can think big about how to use what will now be a very large outdoor museum. Imagine Texas fourth and seventh graders stepping back in time in that outdoor museum, and then enjoying artifacts in the Alamo’s new indoor museum. They will be inspired. We will be inspired. All Texas history sites will benefit.
The Cenotaph will be given greater importance as it will stand illuminated near The Alamo’s historic front gate site with the Alamo within selfie shot (unlike its current location). The Cenotaph is in need of repair and must be cared for properly for our children to be able to enjoy its noble history.
As with any massive project, we may not all be getting exactly what we want, but in the end, it’s what is best for the Alamo and its legacy that is truly important. This must be a collaboration and the best for our Shrine of Liberty to continue for many years to come as the heart of my hometown.
This plan is good and right. It’s the best way for us now to honor and remember the Alamo and those who gave the ultimate sacrifice.