Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Remembering the Alamo

A battle.  People dead.



Why “sacred”?

This is the question which haunts me as we circle the displays, the intention behind not at all rhetorical – why is being dead “sacred”?

I am moved to ask a volunteer, who tells me that the language in the bill in the Texas legislature in the early 1900's referred to the sacred deaths of those defending the Alamo.  The reason?  Because they died for Texas.

Texas is not alone in appropriating the language of the divine for its secular cause of the hour.

Sacred is defined as “worthy of religious worship; very holy”.  Merriam Webster

Secondary definitions include the notion of something worthy of respect.  But this conflating of the sacred and the profane (shedding of blood ) – in its elevation of the profane –  actually reduces the sacred, or perhaps better, twists the sacred into something unrecognizable.

At another location within the exhibit there are a series of plaques commemorating the “heroes” of the Alamo.  Missing from the list of names are those  who actually survived the siege.  When I asked another volunteer, she handily explained that the heroes were those who died.

I understand the distinction, but not the reason for it.  Why is it, at least implicitly, more heroic to have died and thus less heroic to have lived?

To die for country is not to die for God.

To live for God is not to betray country.

To live is often the most heroic thing a person will ever do.

To die is sometimes the most cowardly.

Living is more sacred than dying.

And being dead is not sacred – not holy – at all.  Whether we rise in resurrection as my faith has it or not, dead is beyond the cares and causes of this world.  It is not holy; it simply is.

What will I remember of the Alamo?

One more effort to invest with meaning the senseless violence we human beings engage in from time to time to have our way.  The ground crying out with the spilling of blood.

Nothing sacred about it.

But that’s just me.


  1. Your "just me" includes me and so many others!!

  2. I just finished hearinga story on radical extremeism in Somilians who have relocated to America- the anylists were saying dying gives many people a sense of purpose and they are glorified in death- by the community that believes their acts are just

    It made me think of our military- and the veneration of what they do as just escpically because they died. Then I thought well it is no different from what we could consider the "terriorist" doing

    Then I read you blog- and I am struck by how the HS seems to be moving to bring awareness to those who have asked to know- who dare to ask questions-

    By the way there is no basement in the Alamo

    1. Forgot to 'look for' the basement :-) And how about that HS prodding - such big questions with no easy answers. Beth