Cannons blasted in the distance at Alamo Plaza as members of the Daughters of the Republic of Texas read off a steady stream of names, each a descendant of a man who signed the Texas Declaration of Independence, which gave the Republic of Texas its freedom from Mexico.
The recitation was part of the Daughters of the Republic of Texas’ annual celebration of Texas Independence Day – March 2 – when Texas declared its sovereignty as a nation after revolting against the Mexican government in 1836. The Battle of the Alamo was still waging when the Texas forefathers signed the document.
“The most important thing for us is we are keeping the tradition alive,” said Mary Wieser, the president of the Alamo Chapter of the Daughters of the Republic of Texas. “We’re keeping the spirit of Texas alive. This does it whether they’re sitting in the audience out here or they’re walking by. People want to know what’s going on. Texas has a great history, and we just need to share it with the rest of the world.”
For Andy Kerr, a descendant of Texas Declaration of Independence signer William Christian Menefee, the story of Texas is one that has broad appeal.
“I believe it’s for people all over the country,” said Kerr, who also serves as the president of the William B. Travis chapter of the Sons of the Republic of Texas. “I believe it’s important for the young women and men of the state of Texas to understand their history to understand what it took to have independence.”
The event also recognized Incarnate Word High School, which celebrated 150 years since its founding in San Antonio. Students and alumni of the school were on hand reading from essays and letters about the Texas Revolution.
Incarnate Word High School was chartered in 1881 and ultimately built in 1893 by three French women who came to Texas at the behest of Catholic bishop Claude M. Dubuis to care for victims of cholera and the poor, and establish the city’s first hospital. At the time, the school served girls and women from elementary to college.
Mayor Ron Nirenberg made a proclamation at Saturday’s ceremony, formally declaring it Texas Independence Day in San Antonio. San Antonio is a custodian of perhaps the most important symbol of Texas history, the Alamo, which has been the center of controversy as a plan to restructure Alamo Plaza and safeguard its historic artifacts is being implemented.
Alamo CEO Douglass McDonald acknowledged the Daughters of the Republic of Texas’ role in ensuring the history of Texas is understood and appreciated.
The Alamo is sacred ground, one that draws pilgrimages from across the globe, Nirenberg said.
“Every year people from around the world travel to visit this shrine which stands as a symbol of freedom,” he said. “It is the most important and powerful symbol of the Texas spirit and of our state’s dedication to independence.”