Remember the Alamo
By 6:30 a.m. March 6, 1836, the battle for the Alamo was finished. It took an invading Mexican Army three attacks and 90 minutes to kill 250 Texan fighters at the Catholic mission. No prisoners were taken and after the battle, Mexican soldiers inspected each corpse, bayoneting bodies that moved. Even with all the U.S. fighters dead, Mexican soldiers continued to shoot, some killing each other in the confusion.
Mexican generals were unable to stop the bloodlust and ordered their buglers to sound retreat, but their men continued to fire into dead bodies for another 15 minutes.
Among the dead was the “King of the Wild Frontier,” Col. Davy Crockett of coonskin hat fame. Susanna Dickinson, the sole Alamo massacre adult Anglo survivor describes the scene: "before running to his post, Crockett paused briefly in the chapel to pray ... Crockett and his men were ... the last remaining group within the mission to be in the open. The men defended the low wall in front of the church, using their rifles as clubs and relying on knives, as action became too furious to allow reloading their weapons."
Fighting till the end, Crockett's body was reputedly found surrounded by "no less than 16 Mexican corpses" with his knife buried in one of them.
Crockett died as he had lived — a fighting soldier, noted frontiersman and patriot. He lived by the creed "Always be sure you are right, then go ahead." Some may not know that Crockett was also a U.S. Congressman who was as fearless in politics as in battle. Crockett properly listened to his constituents and represented their interests, vehemently opposing the policies of Andrew Jackson, the populist Democrat President of his day, stating, "I bark at no man's bid. I will never come and go, and fetch and carry, at the whistle of the great man in the White House no matter who he is."
Our modern day representatives should learn from this fearless American hero.
Crockett defended the Constitution from both external and internal threats. Edward Ellis's 1884 book recounts Crockett's "Not Yours to Give" speech, where Crockett chides Congressional colleagues for being eager to appear beneficent while charitably but unconstitutionally spending taxpayer dollars. Crockett relates his upbraiding by a rural constituent who schooled him thus: "Colonel, where do you find in the Constitution any authority to give away the public money in charity?...The power of collecting and disbursing money at pleasure is the most dangerous power that can be entrusted to man, particularly under our system of collecting revenue ... the Constitution neither defines charity nor stipulates the amount, you are not at liberty to give to any and everything which you may believe, or profess to believe, is a charity, and to any amount you may think proper. You will very easily perceive what a wide door this would open for fraud and corruption and favoritism, on the one hand, and for robbing the people on the other. No, colonel, Congress has no right to give charity. Individual members may give as much of their own money as they please, but they have no right to touch a dollar of the public money for that purpose ... It is a precedent fraught with danger to the country, for when Congress once begins to stretch its power beyond the limits of the Constitution, there is no limit to it, and no security for the people."
That citizen's prescient observation is as valid today as it was then.
In the 1950s and 60s, Walt Disney's "Wonderful World of Disney" provided TV "time to get acquainted, or renew acquaintance with, the robust, cheerful, energetic and representative [American] folk heroes" to generations that had forgotten parts of its heritage.
Much more than quaint coonskin hats, now 174 years after giving their lives for God, country, and the Constitution at the Alamo, it's time once again to renew/remind current generations of real American heroes and values. Whether it is foreign invaders, our own politicians, or we as citizens, each of us needs to remember what it means to defend our Constitution against enemies, foreign and domestic. We need to remember fearless and fearsome Constitutionalists like Davy Crockett and rally the cry: "Remember the Alamo!"
Greg Beck is a retired Army officer residing in Leavenworth.
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