Its Do or Die Today for Alamo Master Plan

Fireworks are expected at city hall, today, for a vote on the reimagining of Alamo Plaza, Newsradio 1200 WOAI reports.

Much of the controversy centers on the moving of the Cenotaph, which is the gigantic marble monument that sits a stone's throw from the shrine's gates.  Opponents want it to remain there.  Supporters say it should be moved to a better place outside the hallowed grounds.

But, what is the Cenotaph?

Alamo Historian Bruce Wenders says, first and foremost, it's an empty tomb that stands as a monument to the Alamo defenders.  

Because none of them were buried, it was decided in the 1930s that the Cenotaph would be erected so people could come and think about those killed in battle.

This is far from the first time there's been a debate surrounding the structure.  In fact, some say it was forged in controversy.  

Wenders says, when it was first announced, people asked why?

"At that time, people said, 'Why does a monument need a monument?'

"When it was finished, it was derided by architects and historians, who said it looked like a water slide or a grain elevator, and was out of place next to a mission.  It took a full year after its completion to be dedicated, because nobody liked it."

At the time, Mayor Maverick said, 'This thing is made of concrete. It's not going anywhere. Whatever you feel about it, we need to go ahead and get it dedicated.'"

At the time of its construction, there were a lot of monuments being erected.  

Think of Mt. Rushmore.  The figures on the side of the Cenotaph were Alamo defenders like Bowie, Crockett and Travis.  On the north end, there is an angel-like spirit that represents sacrifice.

The sculptor wanted the Cenotaph to be a civic centerpiece so that when parades when by, it would be a focal piece.

Wenders says that will remain the case, because it will be moved to an area where the parades will still pass by.  The debate over its future, he says, is extending its shelf life, because now, people will understand its history.

"Controversy isn’t always bad."

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