Thursday, October 25, 2012

The Voice of the Dead

While US ambassador Chris Stevens, two former Navy SEALs, and another American were consumed in the conflagration of the US consulate in Benghazi on our day of infamy, America did nothing. Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Martin Dempsey and Defense Secretary Leon Panetta conferred from the start of the seven-hour attack, but a contingency of jet fighters and Specter AC-130 gunships based nearby were not committed. Retired CIA officer Gary Berntsen commenting on the paresis: "They stood and they watched and our people died.”

This is reminiscent of another day of long ago, but when the voice of the dead was not secreted away:

Commandancy of BexarFebruary 23rd, 3 o'clock PM, 1836
To Andrew Ponton, Judge and Citizens of Gonzales: 
The enemy in large force is in sight.  We want men and provisions.  Send them to us. We have 150 men & are determined to defend the Alamo to the last. Give us assistance. 
W. B. Travis
Col. Commanding
P.S. Send an express to San Felipe with news night and day. - Travis 

Commandacy of the Alamo, BexarFebruary 24, 1836
To the People of Texas and All Americans in the world
Fellow Citizens and Compatriots 
I am besieged, by a thousand or more of the Mexicans under Santa Anna. I have sustained a continual Bombardment and cannonade for 24 hours and have not lost a man. The enemy has demanded a surrender at discretion, otherwise, the garrison are to be put to the sword, if the fort is taken. I have answered the demand with a cannon shot, and our flag still waves proudly from the walls. I shall never surrender or retreat. Then, I call on you in the name of Liberty, of patriotism & everything dear to the American character, to come to our aid, with all dispatch. The enemy is receiving reinforcements daily and will no doubt increase to three or four thousand in four or five days. If this call is neglected, I am determined to sustain myself as long as possible and die like a soldier who never forgets what is due to his own honor & that of his country. Victory or Death. 
William Barret TravisLt. Col. Comdt.
P.S. The Lord is on our side. When the enemy appeared in sight we had not three bushels of corn. We have since found in deserted houses 80 or 90 bushels and got into the walls 20 or 30 head of Beeves. -Travis

On March 3, 1836 in his final communiqué Travis writes: "... if my countrymen do not rally to my relief, I am determined to perish in the defense of this place, and my bones shall reproach my country for her neglect.... All the citizens of this place that have not joined us are with the enemy fighting against us. Let the government declare them public enemies...."

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