SAN ANTONIO —
A ceremony on Wednesday marking the 177th anniversary of the battle for Texas independence took on added significance this year because of a single letter on display inside the Alamo.
More than 1,000 people withstood near-freezing temperatures for the annual Dawn at the Alamo observance. It was the first time the observance has been held since Lt. Col. William Barret Travis' famed "Victory or Death" letter returned to the historic site.
The fragile, fading letter is on public display until Thursday. It was written by the 26-year-old Travis as some 1,500 Mexican forces prepared to lay siege to the mission-fortress. His plea for reinforcements to bolster his badly outnumbered rebel Texans failed to prevent their deaths nearly two weeks later on March 6, 1836.
Rick Range, an Alamo researcher from North Texas, has attended the ceremony before but was mindful Wednesday of the letter being at the site for the first time.
"It's pretty amazing," Range told the San Antonio Express-News. "I think of the people inside the walls who were facing such an overwhelming onslaught, and the incredible courage it took to stand up and face that."
At least 189 Alamo defenders died in the battle or were executed.
Alamo-inspired men led by Gen. Sam Houston defeated elements of the same Mexican army in April 1836 in an 18-minute battle outside present-day Houston to win independence for Texas from Mexico.
Information from: San Antonio Express-News, http://www.mysanantonio.com