February 23 marks the anniversary of the beginning of the battle of the Alamo back in 1836. For more than 13 days, 186 brave and determined patriots withstood Santa Anna's seasoned army of over 4,000 troops. To a man, the defenders of that mission fort knew they would never leave those ramparts alive. They had several opportunities to leave and live. Yet, they chose to fight and die. How foolish they must look to this generation of spoiled Americans.
It is difficult to recall that stouthearted men such as Davy Crockett (a nationally known frontiersman and former congressman), Will Travis (only 23 years old with a little baby at home), and Jim Bowie (a wealthy landowner with properties on both sides of the Rio Grande) really existed. These were real men with real dreams and real desires. Real blood flowed through their veins. They loved their families and enjoyed life as much as any of us do. There was something different about them, however. They possessed a commitment to liberty that transcended personal safety and comfort.
Liberty is an easy word to say, but it is a hard word to live up to. Freedom has little to do with financial gain or personal pleasure. Accompanying Freedom is her constant and unattractive companion, Responsibility. Neither is she an only child. Patriotism and Morality are her sisters. They are inseparable: destroy one and all will die.
Early in the siege, Travis wrote these words to the people of Texas: "Fellow Citizens & Compatriots: I am besieged by a thousand or more of the Mexicans under Santa Anna. . . . The enemy has demanded a surrender at discretion, otherwise the garrison are to be put to the sword . . . I have answered the demand with a cannon shot & our flag still waves proudly from the walls. I shall never surrender or retreat. . . . VICTORY OR DEATH! P.S. The Lord is on our side. . . ."
As you read those words, remember that Travis and the others did not have the A.C.L.U., P.E.T.A., People for the un-American Way, and the National Education Association telling them how intolerant and narrow-minded their notions of honor and patriotism were. A hostile media did not constantly castigate them as a bunch of wild-eyed extremists. As schoolchildren, they were not taught that their forefathers were nothing more than racist jerks.