Architects of a New Dawn

We’d like to show the side of the world you don’t normally see on television.

The Alamo
by Barek Halfhand

Smack dab in the heart of downtown San Antonio stands an archaic structure has come to serve as the symbol of Texas pride… the name “Alamo” alone represents an entire lexicon of history, lore, romance and war …on one particularly warm Sunday morning I made my way to south on Texas I 35…

Once downtown I was able to secure a self-park garage for $10.00 which I found quite reasonable compared to the $28-32 dollar a day parking I’m used to in downtown Chicago…The clip clop of horse drawn carriages is an odd sound amid circling traffic the roar of the highway and overpass nearby. The specialty shops, boutiques, special attractions and bars of The River Walk looked great, the Crockett and Menger Hotel on the periphery of the Alamo made for great photos as they both most assuredly are situated on battle grounds …

The square little plot of land bordered by a stone wall literally has a visible aura and once one attempts to fully digest the complexity of the Alamo’s history the vibe there resonates even more …construction on this old mission started in 1724 and was originally named” Mission San Antonio de Valero”… this site saw secularization attempts by the Mexican government which brought about many changes and redistribution of Native American lands granting both Indians and European settlers a home with the promise of religious conversion to Catholicism … throughout the next 100 years the tiny mission experienced occupancy by both the Spanish Army and the Mexican army until The Texas Revolution in 1835…

The most famous event in the Alamo’s history (and perhaps Texas history) was of course the 13 days siege that began on February 23, 1836, when the Mexican army led by General Antonio López de Santa Anna attacked the fortified mission and were held at bay by a rag tag regiment of defenders consisting of soldiers, ranchers, doctors, lawyers and eventually volunteers from nearby settlements like Gonzalez Texas…Names like Colonel Travis, David (Davey) Crockett and Jim Bowie (creator of the Bowie knife) are forged into the American collective conscious from that battle but despite the bravery and fierce attempts to defend the Alamo, on March 6, 1836, the Mexican army breached the outer walls and commenced their relentless attack on the church and Long barrack with cannons captured from the inside…the hand full of women and children holed up in the church that survived were spared and released eventually ...the momentum inspired by this ignominious victory by Santa Anna’s army was short lived and by ordering the execution of 400 of Sam Houston’s newly formed Republic of Texas army after losing a lopsided battle near what is now La Grange Texas as an ego inflated Santa Anna tailed Houston’s retreating T.R.A. along the Gulf Coast. The tables turned in favor of Houston and his revenge motivated fighters, the Battle of San Jacinto on April 21, 1836, lasted a whole 18 minutes when Houston’s angered forces surprised Santa Anna’s army taking their afternoon siesta …

Being the early bird that I am the weekend tourism traffic was somewhat sparse at the 10:00 am opening hours posted on The Alamo’s side gate… The old church is now an official Texas State shrine and they even require that gentlemen “remove their hats” upon entry ….the multi ethnic crowd peacefully visiting this historic site seemed to represent a convergent blending of heritage and ideologies that now comprises the contemporary Texas demographic and the tradition of pride that seems to pervade the entire state …It seemed almost incomprehensible that that this peaceful morning scene was the site of such fierce violence and carnage over 176 years ago as people milled about with their families or friends periodically exchanging pleasantries and platitudes with the attendant staff or each other… Eyewitnesses reported between 182 and 257 Texans dead and while that figure is disputed most historians agree that 400–600 Mexicans were killed or wounded or wounded in that epic battle…

There are some fascinating artifacts beneath the glass in one of the buildings…a knife belonging to James Bowie, a musket owned by Davey Crocket, uniforms from the Mexican army, cannon balls, horse-shoes, pistols, daggers, candle holders, canteens, coins cookware and more…There were a few gentlemen dressed in period clothing conversing with the public and showing off their weapons, authentic garb and assorted accoutrements, the IPhone poking out of the shirt pocket of one of them kind of ruined the effect, but no one seemed to care…

Rounding the corner of one of the buildings I noticed one of the guys dressed in his (presumed) historic reenactment gear standing alone in a quiet, shaded spot beneath a tree, away from the main path and the crow. Walking past him I noticed he was staring at the ground and mumbling something while scraping a stick across the ground …

“Taking a break from the tourists?” I asked as before I realized this was not just another volunteer playing dress up…He jerked his head upright and said: “I’m a coward; I was the only one that wouldn’t cross the line!”…I edged a little closer despite the growing agitation and prickly static electricity… “What line?” I asked simply…He looked up again, the pain very plain in his eyes, “ Bill asked that those who would stand and fight with him to cross the line”… he lowered his head again and continued his back and forth scraping motion with the stick…”Bill?” I asked…He looked up again, rather annoyed this time; “Col. William Barrett Travis!” he replied in a suddenly irritated and considerably amplified voice …it didn’t surprise me that a group walking nearby gave no indication of hearing this sudden raspy, angry outburst …lowering his voice he went on; “He requested that those that would stand and fight with him cross over a line he scratched in the ground with his sword…I was the only one that didn’t walk across the line”… looking up; his eyes were welling up with tears …”You’re taking this role playing thing a little too seriously aren’t you?” I asked insouciantly, more to myself than to him and he just stood there blinking …Getting into the spirit of things I tried a new strategy: “As we speak, Santa Anna’s army marches east and there are rumors that they are executing prisoners”… he seemed to straighten up and look at me squarely in the eyes but said nothing …affecting my best (bad) southern drawl I continue;…”I have been dispatched by Major General Sam Houston to recruit soldiers to fight for the Republic Of Texas and stop Santa Anna in his tracks.”…He dropped the stick he was holding and began tucking in his oversized shirt and straightening his floppy leather hat …I reached down, picked up his discarded stick and scratched a line in the loose soil before me as I continued: “By the authority of General Houston and by my commissioned rank as a commander … I, Lt. Colonel Beauregard Halfhand III ask those who will stand with me in battle to cross this line in the sand …or um mud”… Without hesitation or disputation and holding his head high, he clicked his heals and snapped to attention “I will fight by your side in the name of General Houston and for the Republic of Texas” …with a straight legged stride he started towards me and my makeshift line of demarcation …as anticipated he flashed out of existence as soon as he crossed the mark leaving me standing alone beneath a tree saluting idiotically and holding a crooked stick just as a gaggle of tourists rounded the corner and walked past me motioning and giggling ….

Here's the Youtube video:

Here are the (compressed to 1MB) photos...some have been slightly sharpened or color enhanced....b


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Comment by jb on October 7, 2012 at 9:10pm

An Brother & Appreciated...Being a Texas kid & growing up in the 50's..

That seemed to be the place my parents took us on vacation most years..including..the zoo..

Loved Your blog (and experience) i such things..

Will post you on Our facebook page...and

Appreciate your work

and including it here..on Architects of A New Dawn



In Lak'ech Ala K'in


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