Col. William Barret Travis stirred the hearts of a nation 179 years ago with his famous “Victory or Death” letter, written during the 1836 siege of the Alamo.
“To the People of Texas & all Americans in the World,” Travis wrote. “I am besieged ... I have sustained a continual Bombardment & cannonade ... I shall never surrender or retreat ... I call on you in the name of Liberty, of patriotism & everything dear to the American character, to come to our aid, with all dispatch … VICTORY OR DEATH.”
Travis’ tenacity inspired his men and showed the world what it means to be a Texan. To this day, the heroic story of the Alamo defenders and their defiance against tyranny define our state’s character.
The glory of this seminal battle draws visitors from across our state, the nation, and around the world to better understand what happened there in 1836.
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Unfortunately, the carnival-like atmosphere they find at the Shrine of Texas Liberty and the lack of a cohesive narrative often leave them disappointed.
Even worse, there is nothing to show the proper reverence and respect for the men who gave their lives for Texas.
More crucial immediately is our knowledge that the Alamo itself is literally beginning to crumble.
I am honored to have been appointed to the Alamo Endowment Board, and on behalf of that board, I issue a new plea for our beloved Alamo, which is now besieged by time and the elements:
“…To the People of Texas & all Americans in the World: I call on you in the name of Liberty, of patriotism and everything dear to the American character, to come to our aid and support with all dispatch.”
I believe that we Texans of today must answer this age-old appeal. We conserve what we care about, and Texans care about the Alamo.
Our goal is to raise the millions needed to preserve the shrine and build an Alamo Museum and Visitors’ Center to display Phil Collins’ gift to all Texans: his Alamo artifacts.
This collection includes 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knife, one of only four remaining rifles owned by Davy Crockett, letters from William B. Travis, and many other historical documents that shed insight on early Texas history.
These Texas treasures now sit in storage, waiting for us to take action.
A proper Alamo Museum and Visitors’ Center would tell the story of the Alamo defenders and help visitors better understand why this Spanish mission in downtown San Antonio means so much to us and the world.
Travis’ plea came too late to help him and his men inside the walls of the Alamo, but it carried across the country and rallied support for their cause.
His inspiring words are as valid today as they were then. The history of the people of Texas and our great state is reflected in the spirit of their bravery.
It is time to honor that spirit again.
Building a future for the Alamo will take many people working together for many years.
Join us today in preserving the Alamo and building an Alamo Museum and Visitors’ Center. To find out more, please visit thealamo.org/endowment.
Remember the Alamo!
Ramona Bass of Fort Worth, a sixth-generation Texan, was born and raised in San Antonio in a family where the spirit of the Alamo and what it symbolized pervaded her childhood.