The Battle of the Alamo is the event where many men fought bravely against overwhelming odds and died for their freedom!
The Alamo is where Texas liberty was born!
Because of this distinction, I can’t help but feel a sense of respect when my family and I visit the Alamo.
This is one historical site that we love to visit!
To help me better appreciate historical sites, I like to have at least some basic knowledge of its history.
If you don’t know much about the Alamo and the battle of the Alamo, here’s a brief overview…
The Spanish started building the Alamo in 1724. For most of the 1700s the Alamo was a Spanish mission. They stopped using it as a mission in 1793.
In the early 1800s, the Spanish stationed soldiers at the old mission. The soldiers gave the Alamo its name, which means “cottonwood”. After Mexico’s independence from Spain, Mexican soldiers occupied the Alamo.
Back in those days, Texas was a part of Mexico. Due to changes in the Mexican government, Texans wanted to be independent from Mexico.
Also in those days, Anglo-Americans in Texas were called “Texians” and Hispanic-Americans were called “Tejanos”. I’m going to call both “Texans” to keep it simple.
In December 1835, a group of Texan volunteer soldiers fought against the Mexican soldiers in San Antonio and won. The Texans then occupied the Alamo.
As you can probably imagine, this “independent-mindedness” didn’t sit well with the Mexican government. On February 23, 1836, Mexican General Santa Anna arrived outside San Antonio with about 6000 men to suppress the rebellion.
Even though there were only around 200 of them, the Texans inside the Alamo decided to stick together and defend their position. Some of the defenders included famous people, like Jim Bowie (who created the Bowie knife) and Davey Crockett.
The Battle of the Alamo was on…
The Mexican forces started tormenting the Alamo defenders with band music at night and fired some cannon shots at the Alamo. They also circled the Alamo and cut off all escape routes. Santa Anna made it clear that he would not show any mercy!
Can you imagine being in such a situation?
Despite the overwhelming odds, the Texan defenders held out for 13 days against Santa Anna’s army.
The Mexicans’ final assault on the Alamo started around 5.30 a.m. on March 6, 1836. They attacked the walls of the Alamo on four fronts. The defenders fought back bravely, but eventually they were overwhelmed. An hour later it was all over.
When I first heard this story, I wondered why the battle of the Alamo was so important if all the Texan defenders were killed and Mexico won.
Then it dawned on me… These people made the ultimate sacrifice for the freedom that they believed in so strongly.
About 6 weeks after the battle of the Alamo, on April 21, Sam Houston’s army defeated Santa Anna’s army at the Battle of San Jacinto.
The brave men of the Alamo had not died in vain. From their sacrifice emerged Sam Houston’s battle-cry, “Remember The Alamo!” that led to Texas liberty.
The first time I took my family to the Alamo, we started off by just strolling around the grounds.
We visited the old church where there are exhibits of items from the battle of the Alamo, like a Bowie knife and a rifle.
The Gift Shop has many items for sale, and there are some exhibits too. My experience is that the gift shop can get quite full and it’s easy to lose sight of the kids. Our youngest is the busy one, and so I tend to keep a close watch on him.
Outside the Gift Shop is the Cavalry Courtyard where Alamo staff give talks on Alamo history. This also leads to the Long Barrack Museum where there are more exhibits.
If a potty-emergency arises with one of the kids, there are decent restrooms across the lawns behind the Gift Shop.
My family and I like to visit the Alamo when we also plan a trip to the San Antonio Riverwalk, i.e. the Alamo is right by the Riverwalk in downtown San Antonio.
Other than the Riverwalk, we also like the Guiness Book of World Records and Ripley’s Believe It Or Not stores that are right across the road as you exit the Shrine of the Alamo.
The Rivercenter Mall is also close by. There are regular movies and the IMAX theater that is always a hit with my kids.
Enjoy the Alamo! It is a special place!