So the Alamo is kind of a big deal in Texas.
No, that’s not right…what I meant to say is:
The Alamo is kind of a BIG DEAL in Texas.
While the Alamo looms large in the minds of many (most?) Texans, what remains of the site is in fact rather modest in size, nestled among much taller buildings in a little corner of downtown San Antonio.
I’m not sure that I can, with any fairness, describe the aura that surrounds this place. Despite growing up in what is arguably the world’s largest Revolutionary War/Colonial-era museum (aka, the entirety of the Northeastern US), I’ve never seen a historic site that inspires the kind of fervor the Alamo holds in the minds of its faithful.
It’s quieter on the grounds, a little pocket of peace to commemorate a brief and terrible siege.
And yet, on the sidewalk in the front of the Shrine itself, a man stood that day yelling at passersby while we took the obligatory tourist photos. I’m unsure if he was shouting about politics or religion, but in that moment it highlighted the strange mix of pride, freedom, reverence, and gawking curiosity that would sum up my visit.
There are no cameras allowed inside the Shrine. Inside, it’s even smaller and quieter. The rows of flags and the list of names are riveting. It becomes easier to understand why this place inspires fascination, if not devotion.
Outside, we caught up in the gift shop, where reverence meets…merchandising.
Not being from Texas, maybe I’m not really allowed to say this, but Alamo-branded Apple Butter makes me somewhat uncomfortable. I’m not sure how well “honoring your memory” and “commemorating your death with canned goods” would settle for the people who died here.
But that was the Alamo, at least for me: an odd homage.
We hung around San Antonio for awhile afterward, ate lunch at one of the best Mexican restaurants I’ve ever been to, and walked around the Pearl Brewery area trying to find a truly quality cup of coffee.
Chilling out after the Alamo and La Gloria!
It was a pretty good weekend.