SAN ANTONIO — “Remember the Alamo” was emblazoned in my mind from history class in high school, but I never really grasped it until I first visited the iconic site 10 years ago. Many people may consider it “just a building,” but when you hear about the historical significance of the battle, you realize the Battle of the Alamo was a battle against tyranny. Although the battle resulted in defeat, I view the Alamo as a symbol of freedom.
I was in San Antonio to take photos of the Fort Hood Air Assault instructors rappelling into the Alamodome Saturday. Since I haven’t been to the Alamo in 10 years, I wanted to see it again. Luckily, I arrived around 10 a.m., so I found close parking and it wasn’t blazing hot outside yet.
A basic tour of the Alamo is free, but there is a charge if you want a guided tour or an audio tour. There was a small wait to enter the old church, formerly called the Misión San Antonio de Valero. Once inside, you’re told not to take any photos inside the building. There are beautiful old chandeliers on the ceiling. Every few feet there is information about the old church and how it was used as a fortress during the historic siege in 1836.
In case you slept through your history classes in school, at the end of 1835, Texas was in a battle for independence from Mexico. Hundreds of Texians, as they were called then, were holed up in the old mission when President General Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna led a force of approximately 1,500 soldiers on a siege at the mission on Feb. 23, 1836. After the dust cleared on the 13-day battle, roughly 200 Texians and nearly 600 Mexican troops were dead.
The Alamo grounds are lush and beautiful, with dozens of varieties of flowers and plants. After browsing the church, I walked around the grounds and listened to several Alamo volunteers, dressed in period clothing, providing information about the weapons that were used, clothing troops from both sides wore and even how the clothing was made.
I made my way around the courtyard and watched “The Alamo: Crossroads of History,” which plays on a continuous loop, an in-depth look at the siege. The 17-minute short film is surrounded by snack machines and vendors selling souvenirs.
There was a Marine Corps ceremony about to take place on the grounds, so I weaved my way around several Marines and made my way to the Exhibit Hall. The Exhibit Hall was my favorite part of the tour. It was stunning and extremely informative. There were interactive elements, such as a large screen that showed what the site looks like now and in the past. By sliding a small bar, you could take a complete virtual tour of the site and see what it looked like in 1836.
The next time you make your way down to San Antonio, I would definitely recommend a stop at the Alamo. Arrive early and enjoy a step back into Texas history. I believe you haven’t really seen Texas until you’ve been to the Alamo.
The Alamo is open daily, except on Christmas Day. For additional information, visit www.thealamo.org or call 210-225-1391.