Daughters of the Republic Bid Farewell to Alamo Duties

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As the clock struck 5 p.m. on Friday, the Daughters of the Republic of Texas (DRT) solemnly gathered at Alamo Plaza for an emotional ceremony to mark the end of their 110-year custodianship of the Alamo.

A prayer was read for the fallen Alamo defenders in four languages – English, Spanish, Danish, and German – and bagpipes played while the plaza’s Texas state flag was taken down and handed over to DRT President Dr. Betty Edwards. (It was, of course, immediately replaced with another Texas flag.)

DRT President Betty J. Edwards, M.D. sheds tears while reciting a prayer for the deceased defenders of The Alamo. Photo by Scott Ball.

DRT President Betty J. Edwards, M.D., cried while reciting a prayer for the deceased defenders of The Alamo. Photo by Scott Ball.

In March, the Texas General Land Office ordered the DRT to cease its management of the historic site on July 10. Texas Land Commissioner George P. Bush had sent a letter to the DRT explaining the order, citing 10 contractual breaches including budgetary, staffing, maintenance, and management failures.

(Read more: Daughters Lose the Alamo, San Antonio Gains an Opportunity)

“The Daughters understand politicians come and go, regimes come and go, the daughters will always remain,” Dr. Edwards said, rebuking Bush’s decision to the applause and praise of the audience of about 75 people, mostly Daughters. “The Daughters transformed the Alamo into a tourist site. You’re welcome, City of San Antonio.”

Before the ceremony started, I asked Nelma Walkinson how the Daughters felt about having to leave the Alamo. “How do you think we feel?” she replied. We were then interrupted by a woman who told us that only Dr. Edwards would be speaking to media on behalf of the Daughters.

Daughter of the Republic Nelma Walkinson smiles during the ceremony. Photo by Scott Ball.

Daughter of the Republic Nelma Walkinson sits as the ceremony begins. Photo by Scott Ball.

The Land Office and the City of San Antonio are currently working a state-funded master plan for the Alamo and its plaza.

The DRT is not entirely “kicked out” of the Alamo, the organization is expected to continue operating a research center that will conduct some programs at the Alamo. Though tensions between the DRT and the Land Office are still quite high as a lawsuit has been filed by the DRT to keep archives and artifacts on the Alamo grounds.

Between Bush’s letter in March and Friday’s ceremony, the Alamo and the Spanish Colonial Missions were designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The news has been widely welcome and celebrated throughout San Antonio as such international attention is sure to bring economic benefits as well as a wider knowledge and respect for the sites’ cultural significance.

Some San Antonians fear that the designation might bring international interference into how the Alamo is managed – that the U.N. might usurp control of the historic site. Little more than 100 people have indicated they’ll attend a protest Saturday at “high noon” to protest the designation.

“Our position is simple,” states the Facebook event page. “This opens the door for UN influence in the management and preservation of the Alamo. The Alamo is the symbol of Texas Liberty and Independence. There is no problem at the Alamo that requires the UN’s assistance.”

However, UNESCO representatives would likely note, designation does not mean transference of property rights, “but it is considered in the interest of the international community to protect the site for future generations.”

“This merely means that UNESCO may pull the status off a World Heritage site, i.e. if it or its surroundings are altered,” commenter Gerry Thielemann wrote in response to the protest. “Upkeep, renovations and additions to original state are o.k. Maybe organizers and participants of this senseless demo should do their homework.”


Related Stories:

Daughters Lose the Alamo, San Antonio Gains an Opportunity

San Antonio Celebrates World Heritage Site Designation

San Antonio Missions & Alamo Now a World Heritage Site

San Antonians in Germany Explore the Possibilities

Camino de San Antonio: A Future World Heritage Walk

20 thoughts on “Daughters of the Republic Bid Farewell to Alamo Duties

  1. Re the protestors of the World Heritage Site designation: Makes me wonder if these folks are of the same subspecies that shrieks “No big gubmint” whenever any entity beyond Amarillo, Texarkana, Brownsville or El Paso does anything for Texas, regardless of what it is. Just because UNESCO begins with the letter “U” doesn’t mean its that mean ol’ federal government coming to take away your freedoms and guns, dagnabbit!
    Did any one from the protest look at the Wikipedia entry for World Heritage Cite. “While each World Heritage Site remains part of the legal territory of the state wherein the site is located, UNESCO considers it in the interest of the international community to preserve each site.” The designation has been bestowed on 1,031 sites, including the Taj Mahal, the Grand Canyon, and 51 sites in Italy.
    Memo to reactionary Texans: Not only are you a citizen of this state, you are also a citizen of this planet. Love it or leave it….

  2. I love this state, this city, and all the history there is to offer. And yet it always manages to surprise me in the number of people who fear any sort of change of any kind. I’m so sick of fear mongering and the ability of so many to stop and think – even if for a moment. Stop being fearful about everything. Educate yourself.

  3. The sheer ignorance on display by these people is disgraceful. We should be honored that a landmark in our city, make that landmarks, have been given global recognition as culturally significant. If nothing else, this designation will bring even more visitors to our city to help out our local economy.

  4. Here I sit in a UNESCO Heritage site in Prague, Czech Republic now not proud but embarrassed to tell anyone I am from Texas. French friends have emailed their congratulations to me with the UNESCO designation. How I pray they do not hear of these protests! It was difficult enough explaining W.

  5. It would be interesting to have someone do a full investigation of how the Alamo was run under the DRT. There are reasons why the state stepped in. Unfortunately, progress and basic practices are seen as unnecessary. The frightening thing is the members of the DRT and other organization members in town are running other entities – businesses and nonprofits – and not looking for progress or using bad business practices. They run it like it was still the 50s. The world has moved on. Without moving forward, the city will be stuck and its assets will diminish to nothing as businesses or tourists will not want to visit.

    • Paul, there is a published report of the full investigation that was done by the Attorney General’s office, the DRT’s retort, and another report in response to the retort by the DRT. All were in the newspaper at one time. If the Rivard Report would like copies to post again, I will be happy to send them, however I think it is time to move on.

      • Sarah –
        I can agree with that.. but then where will they take their incompetency next or where have they already started? That is the frightening thought – basics of good nonprofit management should not be the exception.

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