On Monday afternoon, hundreds quietly wove through downtown San Antonio, carrying wreaths and following a riderless horse.
The Alamo Mission Chapter of the Daughters of the Republic of Texas marked its 101st pilgrimage to the Alamo, an official Fiesta event. Dressed in white and topped with bright red hats, the women led the way from the Tobin Center for the Performing Arts to Alamo Plaza, pausing traffic at each intersection as they walked along Jefferson, left on Houston, and then right to cross into the Alamo grounds. As they approached, the names of the 189 men who died at the Alamo and the places they came from were read over a loudspeaker.
Every year, the Daughters remember the Battle of San Jacinto, fought and won on April 21, 1836, weeks after the Alamo’s fall. Barbara Stevens, president general of the Daughters of the Republic of Texas, said the fact that her group’s tradition remains 101 years later showed the organization’s commitment to remember the Alamo.
“If we remember [Lt. Col. William B.] Travis’ letter, it was ‘remember us always,’ and we’re doing that,” she said. “We work very hard to keep that tradition going. Did you feel the tingle when they read the names? You think about their sacrifice. There was one guy there who came from Kentucky who wrote home about the fight for freedom. … This is what Texans remember and what Texans are remembered about internationally.”
As organizations presented wreaths to lay on the Alamo lawn, 29 students from Central Catholic High School JROTC held flags from 23 states and six countries, representing the places Alamo fighters came from before they died in the Battle of San Jacinto. Members of the U.S. Army, U.S. Air Force, U.S. Navy, U.S. Marines, and U.S. Coast Guard also attended and paid their respects.
“The military presence is wonderful, because they’re honoring the fallen,” Stevens said.
Keynote speaker Lt. Gen. Jeffrey Buchanan said he was honored to participate in the 2019 pilgrimage.
“Since 1925, Fiesta has included this solemn procession and tribute for the brave men who made the ultimate sacrifice for freedom,” he said.
Buchanan said it was fitting for San Antonio, known as Military City USA, to honor the men who died at the Alamo.
“Some may forget the actual day or year in which this battle occurred, but all of us remember the immortal words: remember the Alamo,” he said. “The rallying cry of ‘Remember the Alamo’ strengthened the resolve of hundreds of Texan volunteers to fight against [Gen. Antonio López de] Santa Ana and his forces. It’s a rallying cry often repeated in our nation’s history to remind us of the sacrifices that must be made in the defense of freedom and liberty.”
By the end of the ceremony, dozens of wreaths and several bouquets filled the small patch of grass in front of the Alamo. The crowd scattered into the cool breeze, ready to head to the next Fiesta event.