Al Seymour

America’s time to stand up

  • Unity is key: there are lessons from the stand at the Alamo we would do well to heed in these times

A part of America’s history involves an event when a number of men who cherished freedom decided to oppose a force of enormous strength despite the potential outcome. This meant lives would be lost in a battle where the odds for victory were not in their favour. They knew this.

These brave men were not even professional soldiers, and yet they were willing to stake all they had to prevent a powerful army, skilled in the business of killing, from ordering them from a piece of land they considered they were entitled to as citizens of the United States.

That piece of land in question was being claimed by the rebel Mexican army under the command of General Santa Anna, who was President of the Republic of Mexico.

This epic event occurring in 1836 has been well written about, with several motion pictures, and there are not too many people who have never heard of the Alamo encounter in Texas, where 150 men battled against an army of several thousand soldiers in a bloody clash that even today is hailed as significant in the never-ending struggle for dignity and freedom.

It was the ultimate sacrifice of those men that ignited a wave of unity throughout America, with a response that sent the Mexicans fleeing. The American army, hunting down Mexicans involved, was told to remember the Alamo. After wiping out most of General Santa Anna’s troops, according to one account, they found a Mexican hiding in some bushes. He wasted no time in blurting out, “Me no Alamo”.

Author Walter Lord, who wrote books on major historic events — such as the sinking of the Titanic, the attack on Pearl Harbor, and the Alamo — said there were lessons from the Alamo epic that could be relevant in troubled times. Perhaps the biggest challenge of all is that during difficult times, the hardest lesson is learning that unity is key in any struggle for justice and freedom.

Many countries today are locked in violent, bitter political confrontation on a scale that is causing international observers to be very concerned about the global stability that is essential for economic growth.

Making things worse, no country has been spared the deadly impact of the coronavirus Covid-19, which has changed drastically how people worldwide approach their daily lives. With a mounting death toll and millions infected, plus an economic downturn that no country has escaped, there is anxiety over what is being done to improve a deeply troubling situation.

Working closer together continues to be a problem in many countries. Political and social divisiveness remains a stumbling block, even with world leaders. Much of America has been rattled and disturbed over remarks attributed to Donald Trump that soldiers killed or captured trying to protect democracy are “losers and suckers”. He has denied making the remarks. However, he cannot deny referring to the late senator John McCain as a loser for being captured in Vietnam. That was captured on tape.

No leader of any country should ever demean those willing to make the ultimate sacrifice for freedom. A lack of respect for the military from the nation’s leader could be the final straw in awakening the country that it is time to change course.

One may ask, how does the Alamo situation play into what is happening today? Those men at the Alamo urgently made appeal after appeal for assistance, stating clearly that they were prepared for victory of death. Response was slow; that is until news which travelled slowly in those days announced that the Alamo had been overtaken, with the men all killed. Stunned with rage and, perhaps, embarrassment in not reacting earlier, many men left their jobs and families to head for Texas seeking revenge.

While the Alamo story remains a significant chapter as part of America’s history, the nation still finds itself struggling to fully grasp what freedom is really about. Freedom and dignity are not values restricted to certain groups of people based on race or ethnicity. Although America is a more diversified nation today, after many painful deadly episodes in recent decades steeped in racism, they are far from the high ground of justice and freedom for all of its citizens.

Racism continues to be a deep wound that is seen as a significant social stumbling block by a large number of Americans from every section of community life. Recent protest demonstrations throughout the nation, under the banner Black Lives Matter, saw many thousands — blacks, whites, Hispanics and others — holding hands and demanding better leadership in bringing about change.

After so many years since the Alamo, Americans in the year 2020 are still appealing for help in seeking justice and freedom for all. The Black Lives Matter protest, sparked by a white police officer taking the life of a black man in custody by preventing him from breathing with a knee on his neck, all of which was captured on tape, led to people around the world joining in protest for police reform in America. That remains an issue yet to be fully addressed.

It is no secret that there is growing deep resentment over the Trump Administration and its handling of a number of critical issues, including the pandemic, which has claimed more than 191,000 lives in the United States and remains a threat for much of that nation and the world. In the initial stages of the disease, the Trump Administration said the virus would disappear and that there was nothing to worry about. That proved to be a fruitless statement.

It would be similar to the men in the Alamo being told not to fret over their plight because what they faced would disappear and that everything would be all right. Those men would have known different.

America appears to be approaching a turning point in its history. Despite the explosive political exchanges between the Democrats and the Republicans in the lead-up to the presidential election in November, a key issue is leadership.

It is a time for all Americans who believe in justice for all to make a stand and use their democratic right to select a leader who, while not perfect, will be committed to truth, justice and freedom for all.

Failure to do so could mean a loss of opportunity to rescue a great country and help pave the way for the next generation hopefully to have a brighter future. The ultimate goal should be to protect freedom, decency, truth and respect.