Last Friday was a day 183 years in the making.
It was a day when 32 men from Gonzales (or with strong ties to this area) chose to honor the legacy of our community’s heritage. It was a day when disparate men from all walks of life came together to solemnly and proudly honor the Immortal 32. It was a day I was honored to participate in, an experience that deeply moved me, and one that made me proud that I live in Gonzales, Texas.
The call had gone out from our neighbors in San Antonio at the Alamo. They were requesting 32 men to re-enact the fateful arrival of the Immortal 32 who marched out of Gonzales on Feb. 27, 1836 and arrived at the Alamo on March 1, 1836. Those 32 answered Colonel William Barrett Travis’ call to fight for the freedom of all Texans, marching to their certain death at the Alamo.
This time, it was a different call. The Alamo contacted the city of Gonzales through Clint Hille, the Tourism Director for the city, and asked if Clint could put out a call to find 32 volunteers to re-enact the arrival of the Immortal 32 as part of the Alamo’s almost 2-week memorial celebration to commemorate the events that made up the battle of the Alamo.
Through email and articles in the Gonzales Inquirer, the word went forth: the Alamo needed our help. More than 32 men answered the call. Earlier in the week, the Alamo staff arrived at Gonzales City Hall and the volunteers began to assemble to get their re-enactor uniforms.
I was proud to see all the men who were there: former county judge David Bird, Hugh Shelton and his grandson, Clint Hille, city councilman Dan Blakemore, John Stone, Rob Brown, Glen Sachtleben, Ricky Walker, James and Russell Dreyer, Reid Means and a host of other men who were excited to be a part of the historic event.
We all came together in San Antonio early on the morning of March 1. We were led to a room inside the Alamo where we were issued muskets and hats from the time period. Then we were all instructed in short order drill in order to accurately march into the Alamo.
Before we left the room inside the Alamo to march around and then into it, let me tell you what it was like to be inside that room.
There were smiles and handshakes everywhere. The room was abuzz with talk of the history, of the legacy of the men we were all about to honor. I met the Damon family from Luling who proudly had three generations of family, one a 9th generation Texan, one a 10th generation Texan, and one an 11th generation Texan.
There were direct descendants of the Immortal 32 there. Some men with Gonzales ties came down from Austin to participate. Another came from Nixon. All came for one reason: to honor the Immortal 32 in the most professional, solemn and proper way that they could muster.
Gonzales, you should have seen it. The March to the Alamo was greeted by hundreds and hundreds of school children and people lining the streets surrounding the Alamo. As we marched to the west side of the Alamo before our triumphant entrance, school children came over to give us “high fives” and shake hands with the re-enactors.
There was an introduction by Alamo staff, then Gonzales Mayor Connie Kacir gave a stirring speech honoring Gonzales’ role as the First Shot and the Immortal 32. Barbara Crozier and the Crystal Theatre group performed for the huge throng outside the Alamo and then it was time to march in. The re-enactors who were already manning the Alamo huzzah-ed and greeted the 2019 version of the Immortal 32 with cheers, hand shakes and words of welcome. Everyone was smiling. No, everyone was beaming. The men who re-enacted that event paid great honor and tribute to the Immortal 32 by trying to make the re-enactment as solemn and proud as the original men did back in 1836,
When it was all over, everyone smiled and talked animatedly about how awesome the ceremony was how, how proud they were of their community, how proud they were of their history.
But I will tell you this: I don’t know if any one of them was happier or prouder than me. It was great to be associated with these men, and I sincerely believe that the second coming of the Immortal 32 was done with as much reverence and solemnity as humanly possible.
It may have taken 183 years to recreate the arrival of the Immortal 32, but it was well worth the wait.