In Defense of Alamo Heroism September 10 2018

In Defense of Alamo Heroism

Posted at 4:38 • 10 Sept • Michelle M. Haas

Given the chance, would you have defended the Alamo?

Hemmed in within its decrepit walls for two weeks, with the enemy flying a flag of no-quarter. Knowing that you were outnumbered 10 to 1, out-gunned, under-supplied, famished and exhausted, would you?

Knowing that reinforcements, if they came, wouldn’t level the playing field at all, would you?

Knowing that the enemy was led there by a capricious dictator who showed up personally to teach your crew a lesson...would you have stood on those walls and delivered?

History-changing valorous opportunities don’t present themselves to the average civilian much these days. So I guess I’ll never know. Maybe my knees would have buckled. Maybe yours would have, too. I have a question...were the men at the Alamo heroes? Did they do anything heroic?

These are no longer rhetorical questions.

Before I go whole hog on this and make you as irate as I am, let’s take a quick look at the applicable definition of “hero,” per Merriam-Webster, for clarity’s sake. “One who shows great courage.” Got it. Now let’s compare that definition to the words of William Barret Travis, who, according to both Texian & Mexican accounts, did precisely what he said he was going to do in his famous "Victory or Death" letter:

The enemy has demanded a surrender at discretion, otherwise, the garrison are to be put to the sword, if the fort is taken—I have answered the demand with a cannon shot, & our flag still waves proudly from the walls—I shall never surrender or retreat.…I am determined to sustain myself as long as possible & die like a soldier who never forgets what is due to his own honor & that of his country—Victory or Death.

Today it is our duty to fight for the Alamo defenders. Today we have the honor to stand for what’s right. The desperate vultures of political correctness have descended upon the men of the Alamo, and now threaten to take away the best word that we learn from the story of the Shrine of Texas Liberty: “heroic.”

Kids need heroes. Boys especially. Always. This is never negotiable. In a society where fathers are increasingly absent, our boys turn to peers, musicians, actors, athletes, even failed NFL quarterbacks who feign moral outrage for money. We have Nike in our faces, telling our kids that this loser is a hero. Seems counterintuitive to remove actual heroes from the classrooms, then, right?

In Texas, our kids are required to take Texas History in the 7th grade. Why? Because we want our kids to grow up to be Texans! That means different things to different people, but at the heart of it lies a strong sense of place, an independent spirit, and the desire to stand for what’s right. It means we all learn to stand on that wall and deliver, in one way or another, regardless of our path in life. We learn that when we learn about the Alamo.

Texas history is full of larger-than-life heroes, twisted villains, and Average Joes. And the Alamo was full of heroic men.

There is presently a push to strip them of that well-earned descriptor. In an effort to streamline the curriculum—devote more time to other standardized test topics—an advisory panel has suggested the State Board of Education remove “heroic” as a way to describe the Alamo defenders to students. The rationale was that it is a “value charged word.”

They also wanted to remove Travis’ letter as required learning. To devote those 90 minutes to something else, they propose ditching the document and stripping the heroism from 187 men who fought to the death in defense of the Alamo.

(After word got out about the possible changes, the Travis letter was reinstated because the public objected to such a stupid move. “Informal public feedback” was how they officially worded it.)

The panel who made the suggestions is comprised of 8 Texas social studies teachers, “coordinators,” and “specialists” selected by the Board of Education. Per the streamlining guidelines, posted on the Texas Education Agency’s website, “Feedback will be accepted in response to work group drafts throughout the streamlining process.”

So, while this anti-heroism travesty may not have originated with the 8 members of Work Group E, they chose to allow it in their recommendations and have opted to keep it there. If you’d like their names and home districts, I’d be happy to provide them. Just let me know.

The same panel of eight also reviewed the 8th grade social studies curriculum. There, they found to two gentlemen from the Civil War era -- William Carney, a black Union sergeant; and Philip Bazaar, a Chilean-born Union seaman. Work Group E considered removing these two little-known men, but decided there was "strong rationale" for keeping them in as required learning. Only one problem: Carney and Bazaar are described as "heroes" in the curriculum. The Work Group apparently doesn't think that word is value-charged when it comes to obscure historical figures, so long as they satisfy certain intersectional requirements. Our kids deserve better than politically correct double standards such as these.

The Board of Education will vote on whether or not to accept the Work Group’s recommendations in November. Between now and then, we need to raise our voices and let the Board know that we LIKE that “heroic” is a value-charged word because we LIKE values. Let them know the definition of a hero and that the men of the Alamo embody that definition. And lastly, remind them that they are elected.

The State Board of Education has a public hearing on the changes scheduled for Tuesday, September 11. This hearing will ironically be held at the Capitol’s William B. Travis Building, Room 1-104 around 9 a.m. Each member of the public gets 2 minutes to speak. If you can’t make it to Austin on Tuesday, you can contact the Board of Education member that represents your area. Member emails and phone numbers can be found HERE.