AUSTIN – An editorial written by a descendant of legendary frontiersman and Alamo defender David Crockett is making the rounds in Texas newspapers this week. Some are calling the editorial, which applauds and supports Alamo Master Plan, a boost to the ambitious project. Here is the text by Errol Flannery in full:
I am a direct descendant of David Crockett. He was my great-great-great-great-grandfather through his second wife, Elizabeth Patton.
My ancestor came to Texas and quickly got involved in the fight to free it from the tyrant Santa Anna. He believed it was the right thing to do. Despite his worldwide fame and his career in Congress, when he arrived at the Alamo he humbly insisted on being just a private in the Texian and Tejano forces. He was the best shot among the defenders, so he volunteered to defend the fort’s weakest point – the palisade on the compound’s southern side. And though he was a newly minted Texian, he gave his life on March 6, 1836. He was 49 years old.
This was the Crockett both of legend and history, the Crockett my family knows: a born leader who did his duty and spurred those around him to do theirs.
In a reunion back in June, more than 160 of David’s descendants and extended family and friends from all over the country stood where he stood and walked where he walked. We have followed, with great interest, the planning and controversy that have surrounded the Alamo for decades because we believe that the Alamo is a sacred and unique site that spans three centuries of history. While we appreciate that there is still an Alamo of some semblance to visit and pay our respects to, we also believe that it has the potential to be so much more than it is today.
For all the awe we feel when we enter the church and see the artifacts – including one of David’s rifles – in the Long Barrack, the fact is, the Alamo as a whole is mistreated and has been for a long time. The battlefield is barely recognizable as it has been covered by buildings and active streets. Visitors struggle to understand the immense amount of physical change that has taken place since the fall of the Alamo in 1836. Protesters and street preachers are allowed to destroy the experience of visiting the place where the defenders fought and died. We are long overdue a commonsense approach to the historical presentation of one of our country’s most renowned spaces.
The state of Texas, through the General Land Office, and the city of San Antonio are working on a historic plan that aims to provide that commonsense approach, and I believe it succeeds in doing so. Although there can never be a plan that is perfectly agreeable to everyone concerned, this plan will restore reverence to the Alamo as a whole. One thing we must agree on is that we cannot fail to save the Alamo.
The plan calls for closing Alamo Street directly across from the Alamo. This will improve safety for visitors, help preserve the Alamo itself, and stop the daily desecration of the battlefield. It will delineate much of Alamo Plaza’s original footprint through excavation, as well as create structures throughout the site to provide historical interpretation and spaces for re-enactments that will finally provide visitors with a much-needed understanding of what the Alamo was like during the mission and fort periods. The plan also calls for building the museum that the Alamo deserves.
Discussion of relocating the Cenotaph is intensely emotional for some. I appreciate the resistance to the removal of historical monuments, and I am against their destruction and desecration. Fortunately, the plan for the Alamo calls for restoring and relocating the Cenotaph from the middle of the battlefield to just south of it. This relocation makes sense because it places the Cenotaph near the original main gate of the Alamo and makes a clear statement that the Alamo is a place of both importance and reverence, and it will enable amazing new possibilities and programs on the battlefield itself.
For me, it comes down to a simple question: If you intended to travel to a distant location to visit a 300-year-old historic site, what would you hope to see when you get there? The Alamo, which represents the beginning of the city of San Antonio and is also located along El Camino Real, a nationally recognized historic trail, is just such a site. Yet this history is not currently represented in downtown San Antonio the way so many have hoped it would be. It is time to allow the Alamo to meet our expectations as a unique and powerful connection to Texas history. As David Crockett said, “Be always sure you are right, then go ahead.” This plan is right. Let’s go ahead and get it done.
Errol Flannery resides in Granbury with his family.
This piece ran on July 31, 2018 in the online version of the San Antonio Express-News.
For more on the Alamo restoration and master plan, visit www.SaveTheAlamo.com.