After receiving copious feedback from residents at a May 2 public hearing, the San Antonio City Council approved a controversial master plan yesterday that would drastically change the area around the Alamo.
Some aspects of the restoration did not draw significant controversy. For instance, the restoration of the church as well as the long barracks is overdue as the current structure of the church is failing. In addition, the entire plaza area will be lowered by 18 inches to coincide with the original level.
More controversial, however is the removal and re-placement of the Alamo Cenotaph which would mark the believed location of the burned bodies of the Texan defenders. The current location of the Cenotaph has stood in the plaza since 1936 and is a central feature.
However, the most contentious feature of the plan is the erection of vertical glass walls to mark where the original Alamo walls once stood. The idea of this structure is to define the space of the original Alamo plaza, however it is hard to imagine that such structures would stand the test of time. At best, the walls would perform as an ultra-modern representation of a deeply historical and sacred area. At worst, they would be blank canvases for graffiti artists.
Indeed, it is important to note that the Alamo is a defining patch of ground for all true Texans. Like Lexington and Concorde, the Alamo defined and galvanized the spirit of Texans toward independence and away from reconciliation. Early in 1836, Texans (like the colonists in 1775 and early 1776) were in one of two camps: they either believed that the constitutional government of 1824 could be re-established, or they believed that the only solution was an independent Texas.
The massacres at the Alamo and Goliad changed all that.
Thus, the Alamo is truly sacred ground where nearly 300 men gave their lives so that those Texans who were “on the fence” would know that negotiation with Mexico was not ultimately possible. The Alamo turned the academic “idea of Texas” into a tangible reality worth fighting for.
Time will tell as to whether the motivations of those who are pushing the master plan for the Alamo today have their hearts right with everyday Texans who believe that it stands on sacred ground. Texans should continue to be vigilant and demand that the treatment of this temple of Texas Independence is commensurate of the sacrifice of those who refused to surrender to tyranny and oppression, rather than a profit engine for San Antonio.
To see our previous coverage on this ongoing story, click below: