AP NEWS

All the history needs to be told

May 20, 2019

There is nothing incompatible between the Alamo master plan and the Texas Historical Commission’s designation of a large part of the grounds as a historic cemetery, which includes remains of Native Americans who lived — and died — there.

Neither is there necessarily a conflict between the plan, which would reimagine the Alamo grounds for a better telling of the site’s history, and the commission’s designation of the Woolworth Building as a historic landmark; the integration of the lunch counter there in 1960 was part of the important civil rights era for this nation. No decision has been announced on whether to raze the building, and this doesn’t prevent that.

What all these moves means is that any telling of the site’s history must be complete. In other words, it should include the history of the site before the 1836 battle in which Alamo defenders were overwhelmed by Mexican forces under Gen. Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna — forces later defeated by Texas forces at the Battle of San Jacinto. There is a prehistory that included contributions from Native Americans, Mexicans and Spaniards. And this telling should include what has happened at the site since that 1836 battle.

In a sense, what has been occurring since the master plan was approved by the city of San Antonio, the state of Texas, represented by the General Land Office, and the private Alamo Endowment has been a jockeying for how — and how much of — this history is told.

But this master plan, in fact, envisions telling a complete history — which is why the plan will include a world-class Alamo museum. But it will also recognize that the battle at the Alamo is what has drawn millions of visitors to the site over the years. And there is nothing incompatible to that and all other history.

When this Editorial Board embarked on its campaign to ask the community to reimagine the Alamo — urging a restoring or respecting of as much of the 1836 footprint as possible — it did so recognizing the signature importance of the battle at the Alamo in the state’s history. But any telling of that history must necessarily include the currents that led to that fateful battle. Accuracy is the key. That means it must include the prehistory — and post-history. We’ve talked to no one in this process — No. One. — who has disagreed with that.

So, welcome the historic cemetery designation and the Woolworth landmark designation as part of that complete telling of history. Let the complete history-telling begin.

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