Remember the Alamo – All of It

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Visitors at Alamo Plaza stop at the cenotaph honoring fallen soldiers.

Scott Ball / Rivard Report

Visitors at Alamo Plaza stop at the cenotaph honoring fallen soldiers.

The Battle of Flowers Parade has been passing through Alamo Plaza in San Antonio since 1891. The proposed plan for closing the plaza to all but pedestrian traffic has raised the ire and concern of many San Antonio residents.

While some want to be able to drive through the plaza on Alamo Street and see the Alamo church as they go by, others want the parade to continue along its traditional route, exempt from the proposed closure this one day of the year.

Yet another segment of the population wants the plaza to remain open to vehicular traffic year-round, as any closure figures to add minutes to evening commutes home. Those people are willing to honor the heroes of the Alamo and San Jacinto as long as it does not inconvenience them personally.

Alamo Plaza was swallowed up by commercialism and civic growth as early as the 1870, little more than 30 years after the famous battle. It is, therefore, understandable that the average San Antonio resident or visiting tourist might be confused by – or at least ignorant to – the fact that Alamo Plaza comprises the greater part of what was once the Alamo mission compound.

To most, the iconic Alamo church facade is the Alamo. As they walk through Alamo Plaza to get to the church, they may stop to have a snow cone, witness a rodeo, a carnival, or a bicycle race – few realizing that they do not need to enter the chapel doors to be inside the Alamo.

Closing off Alamo Plaza to vehicular traffic with better signage to show what was once part of the Alamo fort and Franciscan mission compound would help get many past this false conception.

As for lovers of the Battle of Flowers Parade, it will still go on, only rerouted away from Alamo Plaza.

As proposed, instead of continuing onto Alamo Plaza, the newly adopted route would turn east from North Alamo Street onto Houston Street, south onto Bowie Street, then west onto Crockett Street. The parade floats would have their floral tributes delivered by young men in blue uniforms to the grassy campo santo plot in front of the Alamo church.

The idea behind the original Battle Of Flowers parade was to honor the heroes of the Alamo and San Jacinto. Rerouting the parade away from the Alamo battlefield would help accomplish just that. A frivolous parade should not be taking place on grounds where nearly 200 years ago the blood of heroes ran deep. Many who protest this rerouting bemoan the fact they would lose the opportunity to have the Alamo church facade in the background of their parade photos. And that’s understandable.

But it should not be all about us or our inconvenience. The parade is intended to show proper respect to the Alamo heroes, battlefield, Mission San Antonio de Valero, plus the more than 1,000 Native American Indian converts whose remains are interred beneath Alamo Plaza. 

The Alamo does not belong exclusively to the residents of San Antonio, the people of Texas, or even Americans all over the world. Rather, it belongs to all freedom-loving people as evidenced by the yearly flood of international tourists to San Antonio. These visitors from across the globe seem to understand more than some locals that the Alamo must be safeguarded and honored as something very special.

So “Remember the Alamo,” but remember what you are remembering – it’s more than the little church you see on old postcards.

10 thoughts on “Remember the Alamo – All of It

  1. “The parade is intended to show proper respect to the Alamo heroes, battlefield, Mission San Antonio de Valero, plus the more than 1,000 Native American Indian converts whose remains are interred beneath Alamo Plaza.” < If this is true, that its actually a cemetery, NO one should be trampling sacred ground where heros of the war and native American's are buried.

    • The author hit the nail on the head, while being respectful of the emotions and concerns that fall all over the map on this one. Bottom line, while the parade is a wonderful tradition and those of us who work never like to see minutes added to our commute, this is something bigger than all of that. For those who might not relate to the 1836 battle, Mr. Huthmacher is quite right in pointing out the Native American graves at the compound. While these people are long gone, would you want someone driving to work over your grandmother–or even great-great-great grandmother to get to work a little faster each day? Most people would not. And bottom line, for many of us, the battle IS the focus of this mission and the reason it’s a bit different from all the others around San Antonio. There are undoubtedly remains from the fight buried here–every now and then, something human is turned up. And, if nothing else, there’s all the blood that has seeped deep into the dirt of the complex. We owe it to the memories of the Texas defenders, imperfect individuals that they were, giving the supreme sacrifice for freedom and liberty, as well as to the Mexican soldiers who fell in the attack to take this “road” off the road map.

  2. Mr Huthmacher is very astute in his observations…I think that the present battle of the Alamo is between three factionsthat see, and remember the old mission Church in different ways…

    First – The politicians and business folk that ‘remember’ that the Alamo is a tourist draw that will make lots of money for the City of San Antonio, particularly if it is ‘up-graded’…

    Second – The folks who revere and ‘remember’ the Alamo their ‘youth’ at , i.e. the present day shrine, giftshop, museum, with all the plaza activities that were their in their youth like parades, festivals, vendors, strret preachers, etc…It is comforting to keep those past memories alive…

    Third – The individuals who, like the men of San Jacinto in 1836, ‘remember’ the entire Alamo compound area and it’s garrison as a American battlefield such as Gettysburg, Shiloh or The Little BigHorn, and wish to revere and honor their memory…

    I am in the third group…The group that wishes return an important, heroic andhistorically imortant battleground back into a space for rememberance and redication rather than space for memories of youth, parties, parades, or commercialism…

  3. The Alamo plaza closure does not conform to one of the Alamo Master Plan guiding principles:

    Connectivity

    Open space open to all and always open..The city has evolved …with the plaza as a major public open space and destination for all citizens .

    There are many ways to honor the battle of the Alamo without Street and plaza closure.

    This closure of Alamo does not honor our city’s public space and urban history.

    This closure creates a vast tourist mega block which will stretch 7 blocks wide
    And disrupt forever our city’s plaza and all to meet the states demand that the Alamo belongs to onlya brief moment in San Antonio’s history and all for the visitor NOT for us , the citizens .

  4. This isn’t about parade routes or honoring the fallen – it’s about everyday foot traffic/bikes/cars and the connectivity of our downtown. We must be mindful and consider the disruption this will cause to accessibility in our center city.

    The current plan goes against the accessibility component of the guiding principles of the Alamo Master Plan.

  5. History is living . Not locked in time. Something came before, and something came after. The remaining structures and artifacts shoukd be maintained. Build a digital diorama and online sites if someone wants to know what the complex looked in 1720, 1815, 1836, 1891, 1968, or whatever other important dates can be reconstructed. Dont entomb the Alamo. Anyway most of the defenders died out back running away and were burned in pyres along current Commerce Street. To honor the dead, Commerce should be a park and dirt lane from St Marys to the Convention Center if you want to be historical. Otherwise its political posturing.

    • Thanks for your feedback. However your statement that “most of the defenders” died outside the fort is a tad exaggerated. 50, or 60, out of 250 is hardly “most of”.

  6. I agree with every word that Mr. Huthmacher wrote concerning how to remember the Alamo and how to preserve Alamo Plaza in order to give due reverence to the Alamo defenders who fought and died there and to the native American converts who are buried there.

  7. If a tourist has a false conception of the original Alamo, he or she should look at the brochure they were given when entering the chapel, the bronze model in front of the chapel, the diorama in the gift shop, or watch one of the movies about the Alamo.
    Hawaii does not see the need to close off the entire Pearl Harbor to remember Dec. 7, 1941. And thousands of cars drive over the X every hour in Dealey Plaza without showing disrespect to the late president.
    The defenders fought for freedom and liberty. And modern-day residents should be free to drive through a century old street and have the liberty to visit the plaza any time.

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