Friday, January 9, 2015

MOTORCYCLE RIDE TO THE ALAMO - 1974

I wrote this little piece for a Facebook entry and thought I'd just insert it onto the blog as well.  I will be writing little snippets about motorcycling experiences from my past, here and there, and will post them here when I can.  Hope you enjoy the visit to a place where a few heroes fell to the onslaught of many.


RIDE TO THE ALAMO - A MOTORCYCLE ADVENTURE
For 13 days (February 23 - March 6, 1836 around 180 Texans (Americans) struggled for their lives at Bexar, Mexico against the overwhelming odds of 1500 seasoned Mexican soldiers with 2000 more en route, at an old Spanish mission called the Alamo and were killed to a man. Those who tried to surrender were instantly put to the sword. No mercy was given to any. The Alamo would be known to history where a few stood against many. President General Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna paid a heavy price (1200 dead or wounded) to win this fight against a few sturdy, brave American defenders but he would lose the war he sought to an angry army of Texans lead by Sam Houston at the battle of San Jacinto which was fought on April 21, 1836. "Remember the Alamo!" was the cry as Houston's angry countrymen descended upon Santa Anna's army and showed no mercy to the enemy.
I left the mountains that morning in the Summer of 1974 and rolled down onto the plains and into Texas. The big BMW motorcycle had been carrying me across America for the past two months and I was excited because today I would finally get to visit the Alamo. I had been fixated on the tale about the Alamo all my life and had read several books about the famous battle and the heroes who died there, and they indeed were heroes. They were men who knew they would lose the fight yet stayed on against insurmountable odds with the result of creating a few unbelievable pages of history that would define the meaning of American hero and what Americans are willing to sacrifice to maintain freedom. James Bonham, Col. William Travis, David Crockett, James Bowie and a host of other heroes gave their lives for what they believed in.
I was sorrowed by the sight I saw as I pulled into San Antonio in search of the Alamo. It appeared so small sandwiched between sky scrapers on a downtown city street. I put the kickstand down and dismounted the iron horse, put my hands flat on the seat and rested my weight on my arms and just stared at the vision before me. I made my mind crop away the modern city buildings that surrounded the old mission until I was looking at a scene from 1836. I drank it in. This was a place where glory was realized and where hero's fell and here I stood gazing at the gates of this sacred place - the same gates that an enemy army saw 138 years prior this date. I felt a strange sensation as I crossed the street and approached the old mission. I was humbled. I felt small in the presence of this alter where the heroes of America fell and were burned to ashes on that fateful day when the Alamo was overrun and no mercy was shown any defender. I walked through the main doors and stopped to just look. There were very few tourists this day as it was late in Summer and Fall was nearing. My eyes fell on a door that stood open to a room that had no exit. The word Bowie on a placard caught my attention as I stepped into the small confined space. Here was the cot that Jim Bowie laid, incapacitated. With Bowie knife in one hand and a .45 caliber flint lock pistol in the other he listened to the gunfire and the intense struggle outside his locked door. He pulled his weak body up and rested his back against the masonry wall behind his bed and waited for the inevitable. I stepped to the head of his cot and stared down and saw the huge knife clutched tightly in the fist of his right hand and the pistol, primed with hammer back in his left ready to leave his personal mark on an enemy that would promote him to hero status for all Americans forever. The door smashed to the floor and five soldiers rushed in toward the invalid on the cot who fired a single pistol shot into the nearest antagonist, his long glistening blade embedded itself into the next closest soldier while the sharp pointed Mexican bayonets punctured the sacred flesh and took the life of one of the greatest Americans to ever walk onto history's pages. The moments in Bowie's room were like a religious experience. My heart became tight and a sense of pride overcame me. I stepped to the doorway, stopped and turned toward the cot for one last look and a tear rolled down my cheek from the corner of my right eye. I realized that I was here exactly where he was. I walked across the courtyard to where David Crockett and his Tennesseans took positions on a very poorly constructed wooden wall that faced the enemy. It is this wall that the Mexicans would concentrate on and when the wall broke, Crockett and his men were doomed.
I walked out to the bike, put on my helmet and snapped a last picture of the Alamo, My leg swung over the saddle, the engine came to life and I pulled out of San Antonio heading for Arizona. I didn't look over my shoulder. I saw what I needed to see and I was done with it. I never went back.........



A point of interest:  Notice the four recesses on the front face of the old mission.  Originally there were statues of saints inserted into each recess.  Of course they were stolen, probably stolen shortly after the battle but, I doubt many people catch that detail.
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