06 March 2009

March 6, 1836

A hallowed and bloody day in Texas history. Today, shorting after 6am Texas time, Mission San Antonio de Valero had fallen to the Mexican Army. Brave men fought and bled to free Texas from the yoke of Mexican dictatorial aggression. They weren't perfect, some were downright scoundrels, but in the act of giving their lives for a cause of liberty, and in the defense of a nation they are forever remembered as heroes.

Many died in the open air of the mission grounds. Many died stinking, horrible, hot deaths in the long barracks and the chapel. They freeze in the winter and boil in the summer. God alone could stand the stench of gunpowder, blood, sweat, and death in those rooms 173 years ago.

There are arguments even now as to what happened to some of the more famous defenders. If they survived, wounded, they didn't live long. Santa Anna records that he had them executed after the battle. That just means the grave injustice of Santa Anna was compounded by a massacre of injured, unarmed men.

He had the indignity of a mass body burn added to their brutal deaths. The story goes that the ashes are in San Fernando Cathedral. I'd think they weren't, Santa Anna had control of San Antonio for too long for them to have been safely salvaged and given a respectful burial. It isn't outside the realms of the possible, but I'm dubious.

The mission lays silent now, though she'll soon see more tour groups, school groups, and tourists. But once, many years ago she played an integral part in the history of the birthing of a Republic. She is a powerful symbol, the Shrine of Texas Liberty. She's served us well for many years, from the time the Spaniards were trying to convert the Indians, to war, and to peace and prosperity. So today, on a sacred day in Texas history, I wish you all freedom, liberty, and justice.

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