Tuesday, January 14, 2014

How the Alamo Inspires Me

Okay, laugh if you want, but I've been contemplating what I wanted to write about the last few days, and I just finished watching The Alamo, the John Wayne version. This isn't the first time I watched it. No, I've watched it many times, and many versions, including the more factual one that plays at the theater in San Antonio.

Now you might wonder why I chose this to talk about and what it has to do with writing. Actually, it has a lot. As a writer, I not only have studied the facts and the movies about the Alamo and the battle that was fought there, but I have pondered what in the world possessed these hundred and 185 or so men to stay when they knew the odds and what were they thinking the night before the biggest battle?

Did they regret their decision? Or did they simply look back on their lives. Did they make peace with their maker, or did they believe in a hereafter. Now days we talk about heroes and wonder what makes the difference in a person? What makes them willing to give their life up? Just a day or so ago there was a young boy from a foreign country who saved his school mates by stopping terrorist from blowing it up, giving his life to do it. It is said the boy talked it over with his friends before he did it. But he still chose to do it, knowing he probably would not survive.

This is what great literature is made of. Real heroes. People who give up their life for others.

At the Alamo, those men, who came from many different walks of life, from many different parts of the country, and even from foreign countries too. Some were Christians, some weren't, some were young, some were old. In fact, Davy Crockett was one of the oldest there.

Now, historians of late have argued that Davy surrendered and then was killed. Does it matter, he didn't run off somewhere and hide. He stayed and fought. He died there. I've read some books that say no one truly identified Davy during that time. So who knows. Anyone brave enough to withstand that battle was a hero because all of them died.

The outcome was obvious before the battle. The odds were against the men, even as good a shots as they were, there was too many against them. They had to know that.

I figure Travis, being a real military man, decided to do his duty, and try to hold the fort. And his men too. Bowie on the other hand could have walked out, along with all his men. However, Bowie was a recognized Colonel in the service also, so I think duty kept him there too. Crocket was from Tennessee and he could have left with his men. He didn't.

According to history only one man walked away from the Alamo before the real battle started. A man who fled and took up a business down in south Texas. He'd already fought in several wars, maybe he was war weary. Maybe he had a story to tell. There was a movie made about that too, Man From the Alamo. Glen Ford played the man. In the movie he had a heroic reason for leaving. Is this really possible? Or was he a coward? We may never know the truth. And what was this man's outcome? Did he live with the guilt all his life? Did he feel guilt?

But movies and history like this inspire me to write about the good in people. About having morals and principles to live by.

And as a writer I find the men in the Alamo an inspiration to write about. I still wonder what was on their minds, did they make a decision and later maybe regret it? Did they have any idea what people would think of them years later? Could they have imagined that Texas and it's people would be so proud of them?

Heroes are hard to come by, and I think their decision to hold the Alamo was remarkably gallant.

This is part of why I enjoy writing historicals. I love history and I love to imagine what might have happened.

I guess this day and age when so much upheaval is going on in our country, looking back might be a wise thing to do. Because most of us…Remember the Alamo to this day with respect for a breed of men that stood up for what they believed in.

You'll see some of my historical covers here.

Rita Hestand


Redameter said...

It seems from the last few blogs that people have quickly gone from the love thy neighbor to taking up more serious topics, me included. Mine is simply a reminder that we find rich and fulfilling history to write about. However, looking back, we see how our country has evolved too and not many think it is going in the right direction. Perhaps we should take note of the history behind our country.

I don't know why that after such a lovely holiday our minds grasp the country's problem a little more clearly but it happens. Maybe because during the holidays we see the goodness in our country and people. Why can't we hang on to that? Why can't we remember from where we came?

The men in the Alamo is about heroes. Men standing firm for what they believe. Maybe we should concentrate on that for a while and realize that somehow, somewhere along the line, our country took a detour and we need to get it back on track.

In our country today we see a few who still have that moral principle to stand up for what is right even if it cost their lives. Perhaps we should remember, at the Alamo that there were over one hundred and eighty five men who decided on March 6, 1836 to give up their lives for Texas, and be not only grateful for this, and proud, but to stand up for our own principles in life.

Sorry, I guess we tend to get preachy after Christmas is over.

Love to all

Tina Donahue said...

Not preachy at all, Rita. I agree completely. We need more integrity in this country. It's sorely lacking.

jean hart stewart said...

A great column. The person with true integrity is far too rare. Mostly all we can is preserve our own honor.

Fiona McGier said...

Altruism is the very last thing any of us learn on our way to maturation. Usually it takes until the late twenties, which is why often young adults still seem so self-absorbed, especially in our country where many parents still treat them like children with their low expectations for them. The idea that there is something bigger than yourself worth dying for has never been trendy. Religions have always inculcated the belief in a here-after to encourage their followers to do whatever it takes to ensure the religion survives and grows. But when belief falters or has never taken root, the idea of sacrificing the only life we know we have, for the unknown, is a very dicey and difficult choice. Most do it on impulse, like the soldier who hurls him/herself onto a grenade to save the others in the platoon.

As a mother, I would do it in a heartbeat for any of my children...for my husband as well. Both of my parents are gone, but I'd have tried to do it for them, though they'd have told me not to since I'm their biological legacy. For anyone else? Possibly. I'm a teacher subbing in high schools and we had a "soft lock-down" in one school last week, in which we locked all of the doors and no one was allowed in the halls as the administrators and local police checked out a phoned-in threat to the school. Would I hurl myself in front of a student to save him/her? I'd like to think my mothering instincts would combine with my parents' teachings about biological legacy and I would do it. But I sure hope I never have to find out!

People today are no more or no less egotistical and self-absorbed than humans ever have been. It's up to the parents and "the village" that they allow to help them raise their children, to inculcate values into the next generation. What scares me are the multitudes who are working such long hours at multiple jobs that they have no energy left for their children who have been warehoused in other people's care all day. These children need to be taught how valued and loved they are, and to have their curiosity and their thirst for knowledge encouraged and slaked by good books, not by easy access to garbage social sites where they can function at the lowest common denominator of social skills:talking about other people.
Otherwise there will be fewer and fewer heroes/heroines to inspire the generations to come.

Redameter said...

Why do you think they play movies like The Alamo? For inspiration, for thought. WE must embrace our history, our rich, glorious history. Yes, we have done many things wrong, but our country was founded on the right track. When life values are broken down, when anything goes, when everything is accepted, and yet we cannot speak freely without offending someone, there is something wrong,and this should go for everyone.

This country was once a strong and leading country. Other nations might not have liked us, but they did have a certain amount of respect for us. That doesn't exist now. We are a laughing stock to the world. Because we no longer stand up for the Morales and principals of which were at one time bred into us. Sure, some of them were too strict, but should we take away all morals because we don't respect them. Should we ignore what is right and look the other way? It's up to us to help straighten this mess we are in out.

I believe what our nation was founded on, despite the fact that not all of us might measure up, without setting standards, we have none. Chaos rules.

Heroes are not someone who doesn't know the consequences, but rather the fact that they do. It's a choice. And for some, there is no thinking about it, it's what is right. And the right way has never changed. My friends the Alamo was full of men who had plenty of time to reconsider their decision to stay. Many had families. They knew and saw the size of the army. They knew the outcome before it happened. They knew Fannin wasn't coming. They could easily have raised the white flag and walked out of there. They chose honor. Those men were from all parts of our country. Even from over seas. Those men could have just threw up their hands and said, hey, let someone else take care of it. Those men knew they were going to die. And still they stayed. If that doesn't melt your heart, nothing will. We still have a few heroes, we just don't hear about them as much because someone else makes more headlines. The media is a lot to blame and so are we for reading the stuff they write.

I pray that our country opens it's eyes soon. For unless something happens soon, our country is going down hill fast.

It's up to us, in our own small ways to bring this country around.

To quote, "There is no better, than one who lays down his life for his brother."

Heroes!Without them we have depression, surrenders, and a blank void. We have to look for the good in people. We have to find ways of bringing it out.

Okay, off the pedestal and on to writing. The Alamo inspires me to write better. It bleeds into my soul to think of such brave people, ordinary people like those men. Men who know how to stand up and make a difference and if you think they didn't make a difference consider this. They had a choice. They were not forced by anyone to stay. All of those men, businessmen, hunters, scouts, even Congressmen stood up for something. Anyway, this is why I watch such movies, to inspire me that the world is still a good world, worth fighting for.

There are heroes left to inspire. We do hear of them, they just don't usually make the big headlines. And we certainly can learn from the past.

Love and blessings