Texas and the Western U.S.
San Antonio, Texas – Texas Revolution
Originally a Spanish Catholic mission, later a fort, the Alamo has come to symbolize Texas in the minds of many. American colonists, under the direction of Stephen Austin, had settled in Texas shortly after Mexico – of which Texas was part – won its independence from Spain. Some 12 years later, in 1835, the Mexican government under General Antonio López de Santa Anna changed its constitution and tried to impose centralized control over Texas. The colonists, who called themselves Texians, rebelled.
Several battles followed, and Santa Anna himself brought troops to San Antonio in February 1836. On February 23, Santa Anna besieged the Alamo, where Texian forces, about 150 in all, had taken refuge. Santa Anna’s 1,600 troops, later augmented by 1,000 additional soldiers, surrounded the Alamo. Although the Texian forces were reinforced by a small company from Gonzales, the situation was hopeless. When Santa Anna stormed the Alamo on March 6, it took only 90 minutes for his soldiers to kill the rebels, including Jim Bowie and, in all probability, Davy Crockett. Approximately 16 Texians and Tejanos – Texans of Mexican ancestry – survived the attack.
In the hearts of Texans, the Alamo is sacred ground. To visit the Alamo is to honor the colonists who left the U.S. to settle along the Brazos River as well as to pay homage to the rebels who died during the Siege of the Alamo. When you visit, you can tour the Alamo – now called the Shrine – and see exhibits and a specially-produced film about the Alamo. Wander through the peaceful gardens or spend some time at the Long Barrack Museum.
Nearby attractions: River Walk, SeaWorld, Institute of Texan Cultures
Pearl Harbor, Hawaii – World War II
December 7, 1941, forever immortalized by President Franklin D. Roosevelt as “a date which will live in infamy,” began peacefully for the sailors stationed at Hawaii’s Pearl Harbor. By 8:15 A.M., the USS Arizona was in flames and sinking rapidly, while several other ships, including the USS California, USS Oklahoma and USS West Virginia, also sank, all victims of a surprise Japanese attack on the U.S. Pacific Fleet. The next day, President Roosevelt asked Congress to declare war on Japan, and the U.S. entered World War II.
Visiting the USS Arizona Memorial is an awesome experience in every sense of the word. You park at the Visitor Center, where you can view a film, explore the exhibits and wait for your water taxi to the Memorial itself. When you arrive at the Memorial, you will be able to speak with a Pearl Harbor survivor, a veteran who volunteers his time to tell you what really happened on that infamous December day. You’ll stand directly over the submerged USS Arizona, and you’ll be able to see oil welling up from the sunken ship. The USS Arizona sailors, at rest below you, although silent, are incredibly present. Offer a moment of silence to honor them and all those who gave their lives for their homeland.
Nearby attractions: Waikiki Beach, Hanauma Bay, Diamond Head, Iolani Palace