February 23 ~  Victory or Death The Alamo

"I shall never surrender or retreat... Victory or Death." ~ William B. Travis

Fighting for Victory or Death on this day in 1836, the 13-day siege of San Antonio's Alamo began.

William Barret Travis, 26, led a small band of 183 Texan volunteers, including James Bowie and Davy Crockett. They faced over 4,000 in the legendary battle of Texas' struggle for independence from Mexico.

"Freedom," said poet Robert Frost, "lies in being bold."

Entrenched inside the abandoned Franciscan mission, the bold Americans fought bravely against General Santa Anna's Mexican soldiers, but the battle ended bitterly when the Mexicans stormed the mission.

The Mexicans attacked with red flag raised, a symbol that no mercy would be given. And Travis pledged to "sustain myself as long as possible and die like a soldier who never forgets what is due his own honor and that of his country."

All but five Americans were lost.

But as writer F. Scott Fitzgerald once observed, "Never confuse a single defeat with a final defeat." The American courage at the Alamo, "The Cradle of Texas Liberty,"  lived on with freedom's passionate cry, "Remember the Alamo."

Six weeks later, Commander Sam Houston and a force of about 900 defeated Santa Anna in the Battle of San Jacinto. Texas was free.

Alamo is "cottonwood" in Spanish. Each year, about three million visit the weathered limestone fortress, "the shrine to Texas freedom," to relive the historic battle.

"You don't always win your battles," said writer Marjorie Holmes, "but it's good to know you fought."

EntertainmentNever surrender.