Protesters Rally to ‘Save the Alamo’ Cenotaph

The Alamo Cenotaph - City of San Antonio Photo
Photo: City of San Antonio

Hundreds reportedly rallied Saturday afternoon to “Save the Alamo Cenotaph,” a monument which memorializes those individuals who died defending the Alamo in the pivotal 1836 battle of the Texas Revolution.

The protest, held in San Antonio at Alamo Plaza, was organized by Lee Spencer White, founder of the Alamo Descendants Defenders Association (ADDA). Her great-great-grandfather Gordon C. Jennings was an officer among the approximately 200-plus Texians and Tejanos that fought against the thousand-man army led by Mexican President General Antonio López de Santa Anna, according to the Texas State Historical Association.

One hundred years later, the State of Texas commissioned Pompeo Coppini, famed Italian sculptor and American immigrant, to capture this seminal slice of Texas history. He crafted the Cenotaph, which means “empty tomb” and is often dubbed the “Spirit of Sacrifice.” The marble monument sits on a granite base that immortalizes the spot where the outnumbered Alamo defenders lost their lives.

At the center of Saturday’s protest was the Cenotaph and its possible relocation. The monument is part of a multi-million dollar master plan developed by the Texas General Land Office (GLO) and the nonprofit Alamo Endowment to Reimagine the Alamo. The plan seeks to renovate and “restore reverence and honor to the 1836 battlefield,” recapturing authenticity and closing off streets to allow for foot traffic. On May 11, the City of San Antonio voted to restore and relocate the Cenotaph despite strong opposition voiced at recent public meetings, according to the San Antonio Express-News.

On Friday, Lee told Breitbart Texas she has asked the city council to reconsider their vote. “Alamo Plaza is our family cemetery and the Cenotaph is our family headstone,” she said referencing the defenders’ descendants. “The Alamo defenders died on this spot. Their souls left their bodies on this spot. There is no better spot.”

White said she hoped the protest would send a message to San Antonio Mayor Ron Nirenberg and Texas General Land Office Commissioner George P. Bush, son of Texas native and former Florida Governor Jeb Bush.

Among the many who attended the peaceful yet impassioned protest, some waved Texas and American flags, others held held signs that read “Don’t Move the Cenotaph” and “Save the Alamo.”

Save the Alamo founder Rick Range was among the slate of speakers who addressed the crowd. He likened the Cenotaph for Alamo defenders as their “Arlington National Cemetery” or “Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.”

On Friday, Breitbart Texas also spoke with GLO spokesman Bryan Preston, who said: “The final location of the Cenotaph is not decided yet.”

He commented that the Cenotaph, which stands “in the midst of the battlefield,” was commissioned by the State “but placed on what is currently city property,” which means the city owns it and gets the final say on whether or not the Cenotaph remains in place or not.

“The current thinking is the Cenotaph could stay where it is, or it could be moved to the area where the Defenders’ bodies were burned after the battle. That location is a few blocks to the south, along the Riverwalk between Commerce and Market streets, where there is currently a small marker denoting that most of the Defenders were burned near there. Wherever the Cenotaph ultimately stands, it will be repaired, it will have a few names added, and it will stand forever to honor the Defenders.”

“The Cenotaph is in need of repair, and it also needs to have some names added. There were Defenders such as Damacio Ximinez who were discovered after the Cenotaph was built. Their names need to be added to it,” said Preston, a fifth-generation Texan and a military veteran.

“We’re all passionate about the Alamo,” he said, calling the Alamo the “most sacred site in Texas.” Preston emphasized that its preservation and history “is one of the most sacred duties that we have at the Land Office.”

While White told Breitbart Texas the Cenotaph is non-negotiable, she agrees with the GLO that the story of the Alamo can be better told and the site could be made into a more reverential area. “The Alamo is entwined in the Texas spirit.”

An online petition ADDA started to stop the Cenotaph relocation already garnered around 6,000 signatures in its goal to reach 7,500.

Follow Merrill Hope, a member of the original Breitbart Texas team, on Twitter.

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