The Spirit of Sacrifice in San Antonio's Alamo Plaza is commonly referred to as "The Cenotaph” or “The Alamo Cenotaph”. I have been asked, what exactly is meant by the word “cenotaph”? From the Greek words kenos (empty) and taphos (tomb), cenotaphs are tombs or monuments erected to honor a person or group of persons whose remains are elsewhere, whose location is unknown, or in this case, were destroyed. Most are, like this one, erected for soldiers. Others have been erected for pilots, or sailors who were lost at sea. Texas has many such “empty tombs”.
The Spirit of Sacrifice Funding for the construction of the Spirit of Sacrifice was completed in 1936 during Texas’ Centennial. Construction began a year later and was completed in 1939. One of the largest works of Italian sculptor Pompeo Coppini, it towers 60 feet above the Plaza. The east and west sides feature likenesses of a number of the Alamo defenders including Bowie, Bonham, Travis, and Crockett. The north side is adorned with a female figure representing Texas. And, the south side depicts the figure “The Spirit of Sacrifice” for which the monument is named. The base is inscribed with the names of the Alamo defenders. The monument reads: “Erected in memory of the heroes who sacrificed their lives at the Alamo, March 6, 1836, in the defense of Texas. They chose never to surrender nor retreat; these brave hearts, with flag still proudly waving, perished in the flames of immortality that their high sacrifice might lead to the founding of this Texas.”
About the current location of the Cenotaph
In a letter dated 3 Aug 1937, Claude Teer, Chairman of the State Board of Control acknowledged receipt of correspondence from Coppini. It specifically mentioned his successful securing of a “more desirable location for the Cenotaph”. The Board acknowledged the fact that it was largely Coppini’s efforts that led to the placement of the Cenotaph in its current location. It is where the sculptor originally intended. In addition, the very ground it sits upon is the heart of the Alamo footprint. It is on this sacred ground that those brave Texans gave their all for Texas. The map of the Alamo battlefield is as it appeared in 1836 with several of our modern-day buildings and streets laid over it. As illustrated in the map, the current position of the Cenotaph is its historically rightful place. Its proudly stands where our Alamo defenders fell, and where their bodies were eventually burned.
To move the Cenotaph would be no different than to disturb the graves of our Alamo defenders. They made the ultimate sacrifice here so that Texas may live.
WE MUST HONOR THEIR SACRIFICE! NO! TO THE ALAMO PLAN! #NotOneInch #Don'tMoveTheAlamoCenotaph #RememberNotReimagineTheAlamo