My name is Errol Flannery and I am a direct descendant of David Crockett. He was my great-great-great-great-grandfather through his second wife, Elizabeth Patton.
My ancestor came to Texas and quickly got involved in the fight to free it from the tyrant Santa Anna. He did not have to do that — he chose to do that. He believed it was the right thing to do.
Despite his worldwide fame and his career in Congress, when he arrived at the Alamo he humbly insisted on being just a private in the Texian and Tejano forces. He was the best shot among the Defenders, so he volunteered to defend the fort’s weakest point — the palisade on the compound’s southern side. And though he was a newly minted Texian, he gave his life on March 6, 1836. He was 49 years old.
As Col. Travis wrote early in the first bombardment during the siege at the Alamo, Crockett was energetically “animating the men to do their duty.” This was the Crockett both of legend and history, the Crockett my family knows, a born leader who did his duty and spurred those around him to do theirs.
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Back in June, the Crockett family held a reunion at the Alamo and had a great experience there thanks to many local friends and organizations who helped make it possible, including the wonderful Alamo staff. More than 160 of David’s descendants and extended family and friends from all over the country stood where he stood and walked where he walked.
We have been following, with great interest, the planning and controversy that have surrounded the Alamo for decades because we believe that the Alamo is a sacred and unique site that spans three centuries of history. While we appreciate that there is still an Alamo of some semblance to visit and to pay our respects to, we also believe that it has the potential to be so much more than it is today. Given the chance, it could touch many more people’s lives in a meaningful way who, today, do not recognize how they are personally connected to the story of the Alamo.
For all the awe we feel when we enter the church and see the artifacts – including one of David’s rifles in the long barrack — the fact is, the Alamo as a whole is mistreated and has been for a long time.
The battlefield is barely recognizable as it has been covered by newer buildings and active streets. Visitors struggle to understand the immense amount of physical change that has taken place since the fall of the Alamo in 1836. Protesters and street preachers are allowed to destroy the experience of visiting the place where the Defenders fought and died.
It is clear that we are long overdue for a common sense approach to the historical presentation of one of Texas’s and our country’s most renowned spaces.
The state of Texas through the General Land Office and the City of San Antonio are working together on a historic plan that aims to provide that common sense approach and I believe that it succeeds in doing so. Although there can never be a plan that is perfectly agreeable to everyone concerned, this plan will restore reverence to the Alamo as a whole. One thing we must agree on is that we cannot fail to save the Alamo for the sake of our posterity.
The plan calls for closing Alamo Street directly across from the Alamo. This will improve safety for visitors, help preserve the Alamo itself and stop the daily desecration of the battlefield. It will delineate much of Alamo Plaza’s original footprint through excavation as well as create structures throughout the site to provide historical interpretation and spaces for reenactments that will finally provide visitors with a much needed understanding of what the Alamo was like during the mission and fort periods.
The plan also calls for building the museum that the Alamo deserves. Among the priceless artifacts in that museum will be the signed and authenticated autobiography of David Crockett, donated by Phil Collins. I am eager to see that, and so many other artifacts from the Alamo’s unique history.
Discussion of relocating the Cenotaph is intensely emotional to some. I appreciate the resistance to the removal of historical monuments and I am against their destruction and desecration. Fortunately, the new historic plan for the Alamo calls for restoring and relocating the Cenotaph from the middle of the battlefield to just south of it. This relocation makes good sense because it places the Cenotaph near the original main gate of the Alamo and makes a clear statement that the Alamo is a place of both importance and reverence and will enable amazing new possibilities and programs on the battlefield itself.
Imagine living history and reenactments that bring visitors back to the time when Crockett and the other Defenders were there. Imagine a 13-day reenactment of the siege and battle, every year from February 23 through March 6.
For me it comes down to a simple question. If you intended to travel to a distant location to visit a 300 year old historic site, what would you hope to see when you get there? The Alamo, which represents the beginning of the city of San Antonio, and is also located along El Camino Real, a nationally recognized historic trail, is just such a site.
Yet, this history is not currently represented in downtown San Antonio the way so many have hoped it would be. It is time to allow the Alamo to meet our expectations as a unique and powerful connection to Texas history.
As David Crockett said, “Be always sure you are right, then go ahead.” This plan is right. Let’s go ahead and get it done.
Errol Flannery is s descendent of Davy Crockett and resides in Granbury, Texas with his family.