The Alamo story is, of course, one of the great legends of American history. A hardy band of patriots holding out against the entire might of the Mexican army in a small mission on the dusty Texas plains. Davy Crockett. Jim Bowie. William Travis. Fighting to the last man until they were ultimately overwhelmed by vastly superior forces, dying heroic deaths in the name of Texas independence. It’s why we Remember the Alamo.
So it’s weird to go to San Antonio and see the Alamo — because this iconic place, so associated with the barren Texas frontier, is smack dab in the middle of downtown, situated cheek-to-jowl next to high-rise hotels and office buildings. There are itinerant preachers on the plaza right outside the front entrance, and a Ripley’s Believe it or Not and other trite tourist fare right across the street, where General Santa Anna’s army once marched. It’s safe to say that Jim Bowie wouldn’t recognize the place.
And the Alamo is so . . . small. It looks like the Alamo, but I was expecting something a lot bigger. The building itself is tiny — which probably helps to explain why a small group could defend it. Still, there was a long line of people waiting in the hot San Antonio sunshine to go inside for a look. The lure of the Alamo legend remains strong, even if the actual place doesn’t quite fit the storyline.