To Experience Texas History, Look Beyond The Alamo To Goliad

“It isn’t what you expect,” people told me. “You’ll be disappointed.”

A lot of people had the same reaction about my upcoming visit to the Alamo. After a year in Texas, we decided to take our family to visit the famous shrine to the Texas Revolution in San Antonio. When we got there, even my children sensed what our native Texan friends had been telling us.

I have visited many different battlefields from the Revolution and the Civil War, but the Alamo was different. Most battlefields are national parks that have preserved the tranquility and dignity of the historic sites. The fact that the Alamo was located just outside the town of Bexar in Mexican Tejas and, after Texas independence, the city of San Antonio grew up around it probably accounts for much of why the Alamo battlefield is different.

When we arrived at the Alamo, we found that, unlike the Gettysburg battlefield, for instance, the Alamo was surrounded by a carnival atmosphere akin to that of a boardwalk. While the actual remnants of the Mission San Antonio de Valero, the old Spanish mission that became the Alamo fortress, were a solemn place, across the street was a Ripley’s Believe It Or Not Museum, The Amazing Mirror Maze and Louis Tussaud’s Waxworks. To us, the festive atmosphere seemed out of place on the site where hundreds of soldiers on both sides had died.

A few years later, we made a brief detour through Goliad, the south Texas town most known to outsiders as the town that didn’t send reinforcements to the Alamo. Goliad is home to two old Spanish missions that have been restored. The two missions, Espíritu Santo at Goliad State Park and Presidio La Bahia just down the road, are much better representations of the history of the Texas revolution.

In particular, the Presidio La Bahia, which has been completely restored, stands in contrast to the Alamo, most of which was destroyed in the battle. The building commonly referred to as the Alamo was the mission’s chapel, only one small part of entire complex. The Presidio La Bahia gives visitors a feel for what the Alamo would have been like in 1836.

While there was no major battle at Goliad, La Bahia was the site of a lesser known massacre of Texas soldiers by the Mexican army. Shortly after the fall of the Alamo, Col. James Fannin’s men surrendered to the Mexicans and were imprisoned at Goliad. Santa Ana ordered the execution of the prisoners a short time later. More Texans were killed in the Goliad Massacre than at the Alamo. Their common grave and memorial is just outside the presidio walls.

Today, Goliad State Park and the Presidio La Bahia, privately owned by the Catholic Diocese of Victoria, Texas, both provide good museums with that describe the area’s history in context and showcase period artifacts. La Bahia also features a short video that recounts the Texas Revolution.

Whether you’re a Texan or visitor to the Lone Star State, if you are in San Antonio, by all means, visit the Alamo. From the bar of the historic Menger Hotel, where Teddy Roosevelt enlisted the Rough Riders, to the Riverwalk and Six Flags Fiesta Texas, San Antonio has a lot to offer as a vacation destination.

But don’t be afraid to get off the beaten path. If you’re interested in the Texas Revolution, a side trip to Goliad may be even more enlightening and rewarding.

POLITICO Compares Alamo Fighters to Japanese on Iwo Jima

A sense of history is not required when applying to be a journalist at Politico, the sometimes edgy and always rapid-fire D.C. political news publication.

On Wednesday, Jack Shafer, Politico’s sarcastic “senior media writer,” wrote a piece attempting to explain why Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders is still running against Hillary Clinton. Clinton, as of Tuesday night, had clinched the Democratic presidential nomination, provided, of course, that the super delegates who’ve committed to her don’t suddenly change their mind and support Sanders in Philadelphia.

Writing of Sander’s non-concessions speech after losing the California primary, Shafer editorialized:

Ignoring the Associated Press’ napkin math that puts Clinton over the 2,383-delegate threshold, Sanders demonstrated the defiance of Jim Bowie at the Alamo, Baghdad Bob in the Iraq war, Japanese soldiers at Iwo Jima and history’s other famous dead-enders.

In Shafer’s head, the defenders of the Alamo were the equivalent of Imperial Japanese soldiers battling it out against U.S. Marines on Iwo Jima. Try explaining that to a Texan.

While Iwo Jima and the Alamo did – as individual battles – turn out rather badly for the defenders, the causes behind each engagement and the culmination of the conflicts they were a part of are extraordinarily different.

Texans – then citizens of Mexico – rose in opposition to the heavy-handed military government of Antonio López de Santa Anna, a military officer who wanted to renege on the rights Mexico’s constitution afforded settlers in Texas. The ensuing conflict, which began in 1835 and ended in 1836, resulted in Texas becoming an independent republic. The Alamo, a futile but imagination-inspiring last stand of a Texas garrison at San Antonio de Bexar, was then – and is still viewed now – as a bold stand by free men and women defending self-government.

In contrast, the Japanese defenders of Iwo Jima were fighting for a militarist cause that perpetrated numerous atrocities on subjected peoples and sought to build a Pacific empire that denied basic human rights to individuals.

Sure, maybe Shafer was just trying to cleverly draw parallels between an American presidential candidate whose hopes for the White House are beyond gone and historical examples. But the examples he selected were hardly equal to one another, or to an American political campaign. Sometimes less snark and more facts are appropriate when reporting the news.

McConnell Tells Cruz to Kiss The Ring

Here’s your laugh-break for the day. According to Politico, GOP Senators are telling Cruz that he needs to come back to DC and kiss their rings before they’ll back his Presidential bid.

The threat is that even if he’s the lone non-Trump option on the ballot, they would rather let Trump win than assist Cruz unless he says he’s sorry for taking a stand against their cronyism. Could there be a better example of how cartel-like the DC Republican establishment has become??

Senator Cruz is fond of reading Col. William Travis’ letter from the Alamo and there’s a passage that I imagine will sum up Cruz’s response well:

The enemy has demanded a surrender at discretion, otherwise, the garrison are to be put to the sword. if the fort is taken – I have answered the demand with a cannon shot & our flag still waves proudly from the walls. I shall never surrender or retreat.