On a trip to San Antonio one of the first things any visitor wants to see is the Alamo where 166 years ago native Texans and Americans from many places fought and died in the name of freedom. And we were no different and visited the legendary symbol of American courage as do some two and one-half million other visitors each year.
On our visit to the Alamo our hostesses were the Daughters of the Republic of Texas who were initially responsible for saving the historic site, creating it into the shrine for freedom that it has become and are still responsible with maintaining the Alamo and its grounds which are located in the center of the City.
The Alamo has always been one of those examples of the high price freedom sometimes demands. But since September 11th such historic, heroic places as The Alamo have taken on new meaning for many Americans.
There is much to see and do on a visit to San Antonio. Its famed River Walk is one of the most beautiful urban centers in the country.
But a visit to The Alamo is special. Probably every American has heard of the Alamo, in recent decades most likely from the John Wayne produced motion picture of the same name that more or less depicts the events as they occurred.
On a group press trip to San Antonio we received a special tour by most knowledgeable docents who showered us with the history of the Citadel and a comprehensive look at the Long Barracks Museum.
While the event that has made The Alamo famous took place in 1836 the structure actually dates back to the early 1700s and originally was part of the Mission San Antonio de Valero. Later it was removed from Mission status and was used by Spanish soldiers who first called it The Alamo which in Spanish means Cottonwood.
Later a town sprang up around it which in early years was called Bexar and now San Antonio.
Helping to understand the role The Alamo played in early Texas history is a tour of nearby San Antonio Missions National Historical Park, a part of the National Park system. The Alamo is not a part of the Park System being operated by the Daughters of the Republic of Texas as we stated above.
The Missions are all in a 30 mile radius of the City and include Concepcion, San Jose, San Juan and Espada. Most with public transportation available. We visited Mission San Jose where the Park Service has a Visitors Center and Rangers who conduct tours and describe the role the Missions played for the Spanish and the indigenous people who came to work and live there.
Mission San Jose was founded in 1720 and still has a Catholic Church where Masses are celebrated every day of the year. The Sanctuary building is a church and constitutionally separated from the Park that surrounds it.
The Visitor Center also offers a very well produced movie which describes the indigenous people and how the Missions changed their centuries old culture and then creating the Hispanic people who are so much a part of present day south Texas.
If you visit San Antonio you can't miss The Alamo since it is situated on the Plaza in the urban heart of the City. It is open to visitors every day of the year except Christmas Eve and Christmas Dad. And admission is free.
If you can't get to San Antonio the Daughters of the Republic of Texas have a wonderful website which well describes the legendary stand made by Lt. Col. William Barret Travis and such larger than life people like James Bowie and David Crockett. The website also includes a illustrated walking tour of historic places and monuments still to be seen that relate to the dramatic events of March 1836 where 189 men died for what they believed in.
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