Once we got to San Antonio and parked the van away on a side street, the kids and I walked to the Alamo while Shawn did a little errand over at the post office. It’s a strange thing when a whole city, with all its commercialism and big citiness, was birthed from a small 18th century Catholic mission which still sits unassuming in the center of the contemporary hubbub. Somehow its presence makes everything else seem kind of audacious. But then I liked that the city was so connected to its roots; I want to believe that all “The Alamo” fanfare comes from a deep desire to honor the landmark and not just a chance to make a buck.
Anyway, the shrine, the museum, and the subsequent grounds were stunning in their beauty. Very earthy with a clear Southwestern flavor that makes you want to curl up in the grass to fall asleep and dream of Don Quixote and his fair Dulcinea.
As we made our way into the Shrine, where some of the actual battling occurred, I felt like an uneducated boob. Honestly, I didn’t really have any knowledge about the battle of the Alamo, aside from the fact that Davy Crockett died there, and I only knew that little tidbit because my 7-year-old told me. There I stood, a homeschooling mother, and the only association I had with the Alamo was the trademarked blue and yellow sign of the rental car chain. Pathetic.
But I guess that’s what this trip is really about. I couldn’t possibly expect myself to know detailed facts of every single place we visit. Sure, there are history buffs out there who would gasp at the gaping holes in my intellect, but it is what it is. On the flip side, I, like my children, got to learn about the battle first hand, by standing on the very land where men took up arms against an impossible foe and sacrificed their lives rather than their freedom. I didn’t learn it from a textbook, but I sure as hell learned a lot by standing in the crumbling walls that spurred the Texians toward their independence from Mexico.
I like that kind of education and I feel blessed to have the opportunity to give it to my children. I don’t exactly know what, if anything, they really absorbed today as we read the placards and discussed the various exhibits. But I believe something will stay with them. And one day when Cade’s mind matures enough to truly absorb the meanings of the terms “bravery” and “sacrifice”, I think he will remember his toes touching the line where legend holds that Colonel William Travis, a mere 26 years old, stood before his fellow countrymen and said, “"I now want every man who is determined to stay here and die with me to come across this line."
Or maybe the memory of eating Cheetos on a wooden bench in the courtyard will leave the bigger imprint.
I’m hoping for the former.
Are there any gaping holes in your knowledge that make you wonder if you slept your way through high school and college history classes?
(For an interesting discussion of the legend of Colonel Travis' speech, check out this article by Mike Cox.)