Vital Signs

Remembering the Alamo

The Alamo
Produced by Todd Hallowell and Philip Steuer
Written by John Lee Hancock, Leslie Bohem, and Stephen Gaghan
Directed by John Lee Hancock
Distributed by Touchstone Pictures

The familiar mythic image of the Alamo was burned into my mind at an early age, augmented by legends told by my grandfather; pictures of my namesake, who died in combat in what everybody called “The War”; and celluloid images of Audie Murphy, Sergeant York, and Western heroes.  What the Alamo meant to me was Texas herself—and the epic story of our people as a fighting nation, proud, stubborn, and free.  The names Bowie, Travis, and Crockett became powerful spell words, conjuring up images of ancient heroes from an Homeric past, the three leading members of the Texas pantheon, the embodiment of all those who fell alongside them and of the qualities we most wanted to identify with as a people.

The Alamo is the foundation of Texan identity and a part of American folklore.  All that came after—the cowboys, the Texas Rangers, the tall tales (“Everything’s bigger in Texas!”), the pride that came with being a Texan—rests on the bloody foundation of that old mission.  And the Texas identity is a reminder of the kind of patriotism that all Americans once had to one degree or another—Hoosiers, Buckeyes, Yankees, and Virginia cavaliers...

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