Rumination XXIII – What Are You Willing To Die For?

The RT had the opportunity to travel Deep into the Heart of the Great Republic of Texas last week. A conference in San Antonio gave me an opportunity to stroll through the plaza in front of The Shrine of Texas Freedom, known to all of you non-Texans as The Alamo. It’s a sacred place to all true Texans.

Although my family moved away from Texas when I was young (hence the Misplaced Texan moniker), my Mother kept a Texas history book and taught us all of the important points at the supper table. A copy of Colonel Travis’ Letter hung on the living room wall, right next to the American Declaration of Independence.

Mom insisted that we know the details of The Battle of the Alamo. Colonel Travis in command of the Texas Regulars. Jim Bowie and his famous knife, likely made in Old Washington, Arkansas. Former U.S. Representative Davy Crockett (credited with the quote “You may all go to Hell, and I will go to Texas!”) and his Tennessee Volunteers, who came because the Texas Revolution was imminent.

(Side note: John Wayne played Crockett in the 1960 movie, “The Alamo”, where he gave one of the best speeches ever heard on the meaning of the word “Republic” – look it up on YouTube).

If you’ve never been to the Alamo, I’m going to spoil it for you. It’s much smaller than you might think. It’s easy, from the stories of the larger-than-life figures who fought there and the distorted camera angles of most photos, to think that it was a large fortress. It was actually a church – a Spanish mission – or more accurately, a chapel. When you first walk up to it, your reaction is likely to be: “Is that all there is?”

Big or small, it’s a place where 180 or so brave men held their own for 13 days against 1,500 Mexican Army Regulars. It was there that the simple flag emblazoned with a cannon and the words “Come and Take It!” flew. It’s there that the Texians drew the line against the Dictator Santa Anna and were willing to die defending it.

They fought gallantly, but all of the men defending the Alamo either died in the battle or were executed after they surrendered. Santa Anna spared the lives of the women and children who had come to the shelter of the Mission so that they could warn everyone else about his superior army and his unmatched cruelty.

Yet that superior army met its match several days later when General Sam Houston and his army whipped ‘em at San Jacinto to the cry: “Remember the Alamo!”

That’s probably more than most of you ever wanted to know about The Shrine of Texas Freedom, but that’s what ran through my mind as I stood in the plaza.

Which then leads me to a question: “What am I willing to die for?”

The men who fought only a hundred yards from where I wrote most of this were willing to die for something they believed in; something bigger than the individual: The Republic of Texas

They were willing to die for the opportunity for liberty, freedom, self-expression, and self-determination. Like the patriots of the American Revolution, they believed those were rights granted by the Creator Himself. And they were willing to put their own lives on the line to obtain them.

Again, I ask myself if I’m willing to die for anything. My family? My country? My faith?

I’ve heard it said that you can’t really live until you’re ready to die. Don’t get me wrong; I’m not seeking to die. I enjoy life and am not quite ready to leave it. I’ve got a lot to live for.

But until I realize that life isn’t about me, I won’t have a life worth living. There are some things that are more important than a safe, quiet life. And sometimes that means sacrificing my comfort and ease for others.

Jesus said it this way: “Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends.”

He was speaking primarily of the life that He laid down for us, but I believe the His words also speak to ordinary folks who sacrifice their lives for others.

Parents would gladly sacrifice their own lives to protect those who are dear to them. Watch a Mother’s instincts kick in when someone or something threatens her children. Kipling said it best when he wrote these words:

Oppress not the cubs of the stranger,
but hail them as Sister and Brother,
For though they are little and fubsy,
it may be the Bear is their mother.

Or observe a Father’s reaction when his family is threatened. Threaten mine and you’ll see a side of me you’ve never seen before.

Servicemen and women will take a bullet to protect their unit and their buddies – who would do the same for them. Others who serve – police, firemen, EMTs, healthcare workers, et al – will willingly put their own lives up as a proxy for others. They’ll die so that others can live safely and in peace.

Going back to those men who gave it all at the Alamo. They obviously believed in a cause that was bigger than themselves. I hope that I can live my life – and lose it, if necessary – for something bigger than me, as well.

May God give me the strength to do so.

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