Don’t get me started on respected Alamo artists who pompously sit on their laurels, let their research stagnate and then come unglued after viewing my work. My message: Grow up, stop crying, get current with your data and then maybe we can all get along … but I’m not holding my breath.
With the possible exception of Alamo researcher Rick Range, there is no one alive more driven to get the actual architectural details correct regarding the Alamo compound than I am.
For my obsessions you can blame me. Then again, one person’s “obsession” is another person’s “getting things done.”
Most people don’t know I am a closet Journey/Steve Perry fan. Eighties music rules.
For my money, the best Alamo movie is ALAMO: The Price of Freedom (long version). It has the best Travis, the best Santa Anna, a pretty good Crockett, passable Bowie, excellent sound, great combat scenes, excellent depiction of the lighting conditions and a heart-rending scene with Travis and Angelina Dickinson (who was an infant at the time of the Alamo battle). Too bad it’s only seen at the IMAX theater in San Antonio.
The worst large-budget Alamo film is John Wayne’s 1960 The Alamo. Oddly enough, it’s pretty entertaining, but I still cannot watch it without my finger on the fast forward button.
If I could go back in time I’d like to think I’d have the courage to march beside my great-great grandfather into the Wheat Field at Gettysburg on July 2, 1863. A company commander in the 18th Georgia Infantry, he was the only soldier from Georgia who has been awarded the Confederate Medal of Honor (by the Sons of Confederate Veterans).
My wife, Alla, lost the garage to a scale model of the Alamo. Luckily, my Alamo buddy, the singer Phil Collins, rode in to the rescue, bought the model and had it shipped to San Antonio where people may view it—and it’s safe from the ravages of my cat.
What history has taught me is that every man has within himself the power to make himself either visible, or invisible, to the world. If you choose to make yourself visible, make sure it’s for a good, and not an evil, purpose.
When I was a kid, I drew the Alamo battle many times, once even on the bottom of our coffee table. But the only models I made were plastic models of WWII airplanes. I never made an Alamo model. Little did I know….
Another historic site I cherish besides the Alamo is just about any battlefield of the War Between the States. It is simply awe-inspiring what those men did for causes they believed in. Also, for all its commercialism, Tombstone, Arizona is an evocative place which, when the tourists leave, the wind blows gently and the music filters out into the streets at night, gives me a spooky sense of real history.
I was stopped by a police officer in San Antonio recently for failure to come to a complete stop at a stop sign and for a registration that was slightly out of date. Noting I was from Georgia, he asked what I was doing in San Antonio. I said that I was an Alamo author, in town for the Alamo symposium. Well, it turns out he was the great-great-great grandson of William T. Malone, an Alamo hero and defender who was also from Georgia. He asked me to be careful and let me go on my way. Needless to say, William T. Malone has now become my personal favorite Alamo defender.
Mark Lemon, Alamo Historian
Mark Lemon is an artist specializing in Civil War-era themes, as well as an Alamo historian and author of The Illustrated Alamo 1836: A Photographic Journey. He just received the Reuben Potter Award from the Alamo Battlefield Association for scholastic excellence in the field of Texas history. He lives in Acworth, Georgia, with his family.