The Heart of Texas

Texans pride themselves on their independence, their separated culture, their politics and most of all their willingness to fight for their beloved state. If I had only one place that I could use to define Texas, and the Texas spirit, it’s the Alamo – a dilapidated mission structure that, in 1835, became the site of one of the grandest David vs. Goliath battles in recorded history.

In December 1835, after Mexican General Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna seized control of the country’s government, he quickly moved away from a federalist model toward a more dictatorial state. He even went so far as to repeal and destroy the 1824 Constitution that established many of the rights enjoyed by United States citizens who, used to the federalist system, grew angry and fearful of the new centralist view of the Santa Anna regime. And of course this led to a number of revolts.

Small groups of Americans together with Spanish settlers (known as Tejanos) forced Mexican soldiers out of the border towns, and Santa Anna was not happy. He gathered his troops and headed for the Alamo, where the rebels had set up a stronghold.

Only two hundred young men fought hard to hold off 1,500 Mexicans for 13 days, and though many pleas for help were sent by messenger, no backup ever arrived. As hopes for assistance faded, legend has it that Colonel Travis, the group’s commanding officer drew a line in the sand (that is represented by a metal line in the concrete today) and asked any man willing to stay, fight and die to step over – all except one did. Unfortunately, on the 14th day, these brave men succumbed to the inevitable.

Santa Ana hoped the death of the men at the Alamo would serve to frighten his other subjects, the exact opposite happened. Following published cries of “Remember the Alamo” Texans rallied, fought and won their independence from Mexico in 1836.

Fairly regularly the state of Texas threatens secession, and while few of us take them seriously. If today’s Texans are even half as brave or have a third as much heart as those who died at the Alamo, perhaps we should reconsider their requests or they might just take New Mexico and Oklahoma with them.