History

The Alamo: Is It a Shrine to Liberty or a Memorial to the Fallen?

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While some view the Alamo as a historic site, others claim it’s a memorial to the fallen. A controversial new project for the Alamo brings this topic to the forefront. Is this historic monument a shrine where people worship liberty or is it a memorial to the deceased?

The Shrine to Texas Liberty

The Alamo Cenotaph

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

A shrine is typically a place of pilgrimage, often where the remains of an important person lie, consecrating the ground. Some call the Alamo a Shrine to Texas Liberty, but is this battleground a shrine? Though a few bodies of the fallen have been found beneath the building, most of the defenders were burned in a pyre after the battle. Without any remains, can the Alamo truly be sanctified as a burial place? Perhaps not, but rules at the Alamo require reverence be given while inside the church both in respect for its position as a holy site and for its memorializing the fallen.

A Memorial to the Battle

The Alamo in 1854 in a state of disrepair

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Sadly, Santa Anna refused proper burial of the fallen following the fight, and he ordered their bodies burned. Because there is not a cemetery for them, the Alamo and its cenotaph outside are the only markers for those who died in battle. Due to the sacredness with which some view cemeteries and grave markers, controversy has arisen surrounding the proposed remodeling of the complex.

Controversy Surrounding the Remodeling

The Alamo

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

The proposed changes would restore the Alamo complex to how it looked during the battle, which would remove many of the tourist attractions some view as disrespectful to the site. But it would also remove the cenotaph that memorializes the dead. The area would expand greatly to its former extent, and some would like the original walls still beneath the streets to have glass placed over them for people to see the original stones. Money has poured into the project from a variety of sources, but still, some oppose the plan. Since work has yet to begin, the exact completion date and the final look both remain unknown. Only time will tell if this site is treated as a pilgrimage shrine where people hold dear the fight for liberty or if it remains as sacred as a cemetery to those who died.