There is something about the human condition and the underdog story. Whether it is a sport’s team cast as the underdog, the team without any chance to win or a historical tale without hope on paper, being stacked up against the odds and fighting back romanticizes a world that at times can seem very far from romantic. I rise early to see Texas’ ultimate underdog, the Alamo. Rain is starting to drizzle, hence the tourist ponchos making an appearance. I turn the corner and in the truest of underdog fashions, the Alamo lends those feelings of being inadequate. The small little façade of the Shrine doesn’t exude monumental battle. Everything isn’t always bigger in Texas.
Originally named Misión San Antonio de Valero, the site was built in 1724. The Alamo is synonymous with the struggle for Texas independence from Mexico. On February 23, 1836, Mexican general Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna lend thousands of Mexican troops to attack and conquer the Alamo. Behind the walls, only a few hundred revolutionaries met them. It was a story against the odds, Texas’ ultimate underdog.
Some of those men inside the fort bore famous identities in American history. James Bowie of the knife fame, William B. Travis and the congressmen and frontiersmen Davy Crockett defended the Alamo for 13 days of attacks.
Thousands against hundreds doesn’t lend the best odds, but it does make for an underdog of histories. The fort would go to Santa Anna’s troops. The heroic struggle against those overwhelming odds is why you will here the phrase, “Remember the Alamo.” In fact, many contend that it was the two-week distraction in San Antonio by Santa Anna’s troops that allowed Texas troops to strengthen elsewhere. Their battle cry would be, “Remember The Alamo.”
I roam through the Alamo’s grounds, including the Long Barrack, a residence for Spanish priests and later a hospital for Mexican and Texan troops. The fort contains grounds dotted in cacti and greenery, making it hard to imagine such struggle and anguish in an otherwise peaceful setting.
I keep remembering the underdogs of Texas as I head to San Antonio’s next big attraction, the Riverwalk. In 1921, floods destroyed downtown San Antonio. Water from the San Antonio River rushed through the center of the city. In order to deal with the mess, the Olmos Dam was constructed to handle the overflow and route water around the downtown through the canal called Oxbow. It was only intended to be a temporary fix, but the San Antonio Conservation Society proposed turning the canal into an attraction. The plan for a business district of shops and restaurants along the water was ultimately fulfilled.
The Riverwalk of San Antonio has the aura of being a Disney ride. Narrated boat tours run like clockwork throughout the waterways. The restaurants along the stretch overcharge by the enchilada, but I don’t mind. I take a seat and a drink of Alamo beer, reflecting on the events of the day. There is something compelling about the Riverwalk’s story. A disaster turned into one of the biggest tourist attractions in the city has yet another tone of that underdog tale. I take a sip and remember the Alamo and remember just why the underdog’s plight is one of the few occurrences in this world that truly never tires.
Have you been to San Antonio?