Growing up in San Antonio I was cursed with the same type of annual event that kids that live in towns with large theme parks are cursed with; that is every time relatives come into town you make the trip to that particular point of interest that the city boasts.
Living in San Antonio, that point of interest where we would always go was, of course, the Alamo. I knew all the ins and outs of this place, form the plaque in the main chapel, where three unidentified bodies were found, to the display of the coonskin cap worn by John Wayne in the movie “The Alamo.”
Even though these yearly treks downtown seemed painfully boring at the time I’m now grateful for the experience, the history that was almost force fed me as a child has become an integral part of my life today. That’s right, the exposure of history actually did rub off on me. It led to an interest and revelation that I didn’t expect, that the Alamo might actually harbor more than just summertime childhood memories.
The town of San Antonio grew out of a collection of missions grouped together in the San Antonio river valley. The Spaniards used the labor of the Papaya Indian tribe to help build their missions. The first mission: the mission San Antonio de Valero, was founded in 1718. That mission was abandoned by the church and was later turned into a fort and renamed the Alamo.
The fort came into prominence and history on March 6th, 1836. Early that morning Santa Anna readied his troops for the final assault on the Alamo. A little after five a.m. the Mexican army advanced under the bugling march of Deguello, the traditional Spanish march of no quarter. The march being a testament to Santa Anna’s frustration at being held at bay for the last several days. It was not to be so that day. Within ninety minutes the Mexican Army had completely massacred them all, and the defenders of the Alamo passed into history, or did they?
Some say the battle was the beginning of the haunting of the Alamo. Shortly after the battle of San Jacinto the Mexican General Andrade tried to destroy the mission. His soldiers refused to harm the sacred place, terrified by ghosts waving flaming swords that appeared and warned “depart, touch not these walls…”
The general and his soldiers were not the only ones who have seen the ghosts but they may have been the first. Guests at the Crockett Hotel have said they have glimpsed the ghostly figures dancing along the walls of the famous shrine. Others have heard strange sounds around the mission.
The mission San Antonio de Valero has become the symbol of Texas freedom and pride. It’s sacred to just about every Texan, living, and apparently dead as well. If you visit, the dead just may tell you how much they treasure it.