Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Pilgrimage to the Alamo and the Daughters of the Republic of Texas


Fiesta week in San Antonio is all about remembering the heroes at the Alamo who died on March 6, 1836 as well as remembering Sam Houston's victory over Santa Anna nearly 7 weeks later at the Battle of San Jacinto on April 21, 1836. Appropriately, Fiesta is celebrated on the anniversary week of April 21...which just so happens to be today! Because the Battle of San Jacinto was won 179 years ago, we have Fiesta today!

"Look to it, you Texans of today, with happy homes, mid fields of smiling plenty, that the blood of the Alamo, Goliad, and San Jacinto sealed forever...Texas, one and indivisible!"- written by Kate Scurry Terrell

Last night I began my week long series on Fiesta San Antonio because this is a memory near and dear to the heart of this Texan gal who now lives in Northern Virginia. Did you know that at least 16 of the Alamo defenders came from Virginia, including John William Smith, George Washington Main, and Patrick Henry Herndon? Did you know that Sam Houston was born in Virginia? His bust is in both the state house of Virginia and Texas. I love the history of Virginia (as evidenced by my numerous trips to Colonial Williamsburg to see George Washington and Patrick Henry and even to Jamestown where John Smith gained fame.) as well as Texas. I grew up in San Antonio with many memories of Fiesta. It does a soul good to understand and appreciate from whence the traditions of yore come.  

In 2007 when we got to attend the Fiesta River Parade, we also attended the annual event, Pilgrimage to the Alamo. It was an emotional ceremony...quiet...respectful...and heart wrenching when you think about it. We had time to pause and reflect on men who gave their lives at the Alamo, men who knew they would be killed yet stayed anyway. The Alamo defenders were vastly outnumbered. When Santa Anna and his troops arrived he had the flag of  "no quarter" put atop the nearby San Fernando Cathedral, meaning that no hostages would be taken. All. would. be. killed.

As I wrote last night, Fiesta began in 1891 with the Battle of Flowers Parade (I'll write about that on Friday). Thus an annual event was born which has only grown larger over time. Founded in 1905 the Alamo Mission Chapter of the Daughters of the Republic of Texas was formed to defend and proclaim the history of Texas. They organized Pilgrimage to the Alamo in 1925, which has become an annual event. Crowds gather from afar from various groups, from civic to military and everyone in-between to respectfully lay wreaths at the Alamo. From inside the crumbled walls a voice booms the name of each of the defenders...one by one...which is concluded with the poignant playing of Taps.


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