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FIRST-PERSON: Alamo courage

ALEXANDRIA, La. (BP) — Students of Texas history understand the significance of the time frame that spans February 23 to March 6 on the calendar. It was during these 13 days in 1836 that the siege of the Alamo took place.

The courage displayed by those who sequestered themselves in the former Spanish mission in San Antonio still inspires awe. The same willingness to take a stand in the face of insurmountable odds is needed today if America’s moral unraveling is going to be slowed, much less reversed.

In response to a rebellion brewing in the Mexican region known as Texas, President Antonio López de Santa Anna, assembled a military force which eventually totaled more than 3000 troops. Mexico’s president personally took charge of his army with the expectation of quickly crushing the uprising.

In order for Santa Anna to stop the Texian rebellion, his Mexican army had to first deal with a little speed bump in the form of an unimpressive makeshift fortress located in San Antonio. Historical accounts reflect the Mexican president thought taking the Alamo was little more than a formality.

The approximately 180 men who manned the rag-tag fort in San Antonio believed reinforcements would at some point join them in their effort to thwart the Mexican army’s march into the heart of Texas. For 13 harried days they fought and waited, but eventually word came help would not be coming.

The story has long been told that at some point on March 5, Colonel William B. Travis, commander of the Alamo, informed his men that a Mexican attack on the fort was to be expected at any time. He also shared it was very unlikely they would be able to withstand the onslaught.

Travis told the men what they already knew; Santa Anna had made it clear no mercy would be extended to the rebels defending the Alamo. All combatants would be killed.

The commander of the Alamo gathered his men together and drew a line on the ground with his sword. He then asked those who were willing to stay and fight to the death to cross the line. To those unwilling to make the ultimate sacrifice, Travis told them the time to leave had come.

As the story goes, approximately 180 men crossed the line. Among them were Davy Crockett, legendary congressman from Tennessee and famed frontiersman, and fighter Jim Bowie.

According to the story, Bowie was suffering from consumption and was confined to a bed. He asked to be carried across the line.

Only one man, identified as Moses Rose, did not cross the line. Sometime in the night prior to the Mexican assaults of March 6, he left the fort and slipped through enemy lines to safety.

While some historians have dismissed the “line in the sand” story as legend, others believe it to be accurate. James Donovan, in his book “The Blood of Heroes: The 13-Day Struggle for the Alamo and the Sacrifice that Forged a Nation,” believes the story to be true.

Donovan’s take on the “line in the sand” is as follows: “An important point to bear in mind is this: there is not a single event associated with the siege and fall of the Alamo that has been related in so many independent versions by so many different individuals attesting to its fundamental truth.”

The author continues, “There now exists enough reliable evidence to consider the existence of Moses Rose, his escape from the Alamo, and the line drawn by Travis to be acceptable, factual history.”

Donovan writes that years after the Alamo siege Rose was asked why he did not cross the line. “By God, I wasn’t ready to die,” was his reply.

The men in the Alamo knew that if they stayed they were going to be killed. Perhaps they would be shot, hit by a cannon ball or skewered by a bayonet, but somehow they were going to die. Yet, all but one stayed.

Historians speculate as to what impact the Alamo had on securing Texas independence. The 13-day siege seems to have bought time so Texas’ Declaration of Independence could be signed on March 2. Also Sam Houston, who signed the document, began to organize an army to respond to Santa Anna’s advance.

During the “13 Days of Glory” it is reported that the 180 men defending the Alamo inflicted approximately 600 casualties on the Mexican army.

It is certain those who died at the Alamo inspired the Texians who routed Santa Anna’s army in 18 minutes on April 21, 1836, at the Battle of San Jacinto; the battle which secured Texas independence.

During the Battle of San Jacinto the cry, “Remember the Alamo” was born. The Texians attacking Santa Anna’s troops were reported to scream it at the top of their lungs as they assaulted the Mexican army.

America’s moral fabric is unraveling at breakneck speed. It is proven that those who stand up for Christ and biblical values are going to be metaphorically shot. Liberal activists have even been known to “kill” a reputation from time to time. As a result, we need courageous leaders to stand and take the bullets.

Standing and speaking out might help slow America’s skid into a moral morass. More than that, getting attacked by the enemies of righteousness might inspire others to stand and speak. Many voices are needed if we are to stem the rising tide of godlessness.

Defenders of the Alamo gave their lives for the cause of freedom. Are we willing to suffer metaphorical bullets and attacks on our reputation for the cause of righteousness? For Christ’s sake and the future of America, I hope so.
Kelly Boggs is a weekly columnist for Baptist Press, director of the Louisiana Baptist Convention’s office of public affairs, and editor of the Baptist Message (www.baptistmessage.com), newsjournal of the Louisiana Baptist Convention. Get Baptist Press headlines and breaking news on Twitter (@BaptistPress), Facebook (Facebook.com/BaptistPress) and in your email (baptistpress.com/SubscribeBP.asp).

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  • Kelly Boggs