Texans working together for the Alamo's future
EDITORIAL — March 25, 2015
No symbol defines Texas more than the Alamo.
Everyone knows that in 1836, a small band of defenders fought to the death rather than surrender. This is true. But the story of the Alamo is bigger than that.
It's the story of the triumph of freedom over tyranny. It's the story of Tejanos joining Texians to save Texas. It's the story of courage and the price of freedom. As Texans, we have much to reflect upon when we look at the Alamo; we also have much to look forward to.
As a native Texan, the Alamo holds a special place in my heart, and I am honored to be entrusted with its care as your Texas Land Commissioner. And I'm excited to be part of a powerful effort to preserve the Alamo and ensure its inspirational story will be told to future generations.
As we move forward, I pledge to work hand-in-hand with the Daughters of the Republic of Texas, even as our respective roles in managing day-to-day operations have evolved and changed.
Ellen McCaffrey, 44th President General of The Daughters of the Republic of Texas, eloquently explained what the Daughters do best: "Since 1891, the Daughters of the Republic of Texas have maintained a proud legacy of perpetuating the memory and spirit of the early pioneers who fought for and preserved the independence of Texas.” The Daughters remain the keepers of that spirit as we move forward.
I recognize and honor the fact that without the Daughters of the Republic of Texas, we would not be able to celebrate the Alamo today.
Meanwhile, powerful Texans have pulled together to help the shrine through a reinvigorated Alamo Endowment board. Their goal? To raise the millions needed for expensive preservation efforts, as well as build an Alamo museum and visitors center which will make Texans proud. Ramona Bass, Gene Powell, Red McCombs, Jim Dannenbaum, Lew Moorman and Welcome Wilson Jr. — these proud Texans will create a master planning process to bring the best ideas forward for preserving and promoting the Shrine of Texas Liberty, while working with the city of San Antonio to return reverence to Alamo Plaza.
The Alamo has always had the same owner — the people of Texas. The only change will be the addition of a master plan and professional management so we can work with the city of San Antonio and all Texans who care about the shrine. As we move forward, the Texas General Land Office and the Alamo Endowment Board will ensure that the Alamo will always be honored and preserved by Texans, for Texans, forever.
The General Land Office knows about preserving the legacy of Texas for future generations. With an archive of 35 million documents, some dating back to 1650, our expert staff has been preserving history since Texas was a Republic. Our experts currently preserve many key artifacts from Texas’ glorious history, including Stephen F. Austin’s map of Texas, and David Crockett’s land grant document.
Under the General Land Office's management, we have returned Col. William B. Travis' "Victory or Death" letter to the Alamo and have begun millions of dollars worth of long-needed repairs. And this is just the beginning. One special Alamo aficionado — British pop-icon and Alamo historian, Phil Collins — has already been inspired by the pioneering spirit of the Alamo.
Collins donated his entire collection of Alamo artifacts — the most important Alamo collection in the world — so that others may be inspired. Collins’ Alamo collection includes invaluable artifacts like Jim Bowie’s legendary knife, one of only four remaining rifles owned by Davy Crockett, letters from William B. Travis, and many other historical documents that shed insight on early Texas history.
To house this extraordinary collection, we must work to build a museum to display these treasures and help visitors better understand why this Spanish mission in the heart of San Antonio means so much to us and to the world.
The story of Texas — and the Alamo — is one of independence, sacrifice and courage. It's a timeless story of heroes who died so that others might live free. The Alamo story is a universal story written in Texas, but read around the world. The time has come to create a future for the Alamo that is as proud and as purposeful as its past.
It's a new dawn at the Alamo, and I want to urge all Texans to join our efforts. To make a donation toward preserving the Alamo and building an Alamo Museum and Visitors Center, please visit http://www.alamoendowment.org.
Land Commissioner George P. Bush oversees the Alamo on behalf of all Texans. He was elected to office in November.