Growing up in San Antonio, I visited the Alamo many times each year. In fact, Joske’s Department store (my Mom’s favorite), was just a few blocks from the Alamo. While Mom shopped, I would wander down to the “Shrine of Texas Liberty” eating soft serve custard, and hanging out with the tourists and pigeons.
The Alamo was built about 1718 as a mission to carry out church work. At one point, the Alamo compound had a population of 275 people plus cattle, horses, and sheep. Eventually, it became a fortress for the Texan army as they battled the Mexican army who were under the command of General Santa Anna.
On February 23, 1836, the Mexican army of approximately 4000 soldiers surrounded the Alamo. Defending the Alamo were about 180 brave fighters including Davy Crockett, Jim Bowie, and Commander William B. Travis. For thirteen amazing days our heroes fought for the liberty and freedom of Texas. The final assault began at dawn on March 6, 1836. When the battle ended, all the noble defenders had died. But some of the women, children, and slaves survived to tell the incredible story to future generations.
During the siege, Commander Travis wrote a series of letters requesting more troops, and explaining his purpose. In one letter he said (in part): “The enemy in large force are in sight. We want men and provisions. Send them to us. We have 150 men and are determined to defend the Alamo to the last. Give us assistance.” The next day Travis wrote: “If this call is neglected, I am determined to sustain myself as long as possible & die like a soldier who never forgets what is due to his own honor & that of his country -- VICTORY OR DEATH. P.S. The Lord is on our side!” It became apparent that Travis was turning to his faith in God even as he sought military reinforcements.
Just 3 days before the final assault and death, this war-weary soldier was thinking of God, Texas, and family. Travis had grown up in a family of ministers. He learned of Christ at an early age, and that commitment made him stronger in battle.
On March 3rd, Travis wrote three gripping and courageous letters. The first letter ended with: “My respects to all friends, confusion to all enemies. God Bless you.” The second letter finished by saying: “The bearer of this will give you, your honorable body, a statement more in detail, should he escape through the enemy's lines. God and Texas! -- Victory or Death!!” Commander Travis writes the words that shall always be remembered with the celebrated Alamo and proper personal primacies: “God and Texas – Victory or Death!”
But the last letter will bring a tear to your eye. It concluded by saying: “Take care of my little boy. If the country should be saved, I may make for him a splendid fortune; but if the country be lost and I should perish, he will have nothing but the proud recollection that he is the son of a man who died for his country.” BRAVO! Did you know that William B. Travis was only 26 years old when he died in the Alamo? So young – such wisdom.
May we all keep our priorities straight in 2016 by placing God first in all things and Remember the Alamo!