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  • Zina

A line in the sand

The story of the Alamo moves me every time I think of it. There can be debate about the justness of the cause. There can be debate about the wisdom of the "line in the sand". There can be debate about the ends, but not a debate about the means.

The heroes of the Alamo believed in the justness of their cause. They believed the issue was bigger than themselves. Sitting comfortably in my chair, sipping wine and typing on an amazing machine, I am not qualified to question their cause.

They paid the ultimate price for that cause. They paid the ultimate price so that Sam Houston and the Texians would have time to be victorious at San Jacinto.

I enjoy the bounty of that price. It is glorious. I hope they would think it worth their price. I hope and pray that if I was presented with such a challenge, that I would rise to it with the same courage.

Every year, when these stories start showing up in my Inbox, I get teary-eyed. I'm an unashamed admirer of the Texian heroes.

This story appeared in an email from

-------------------------------------- The thirteen days of the siege, battle, and fall of the Alamo added three iconic phrases to the world's lexicon:

A line in the sand.

Victory or Death!

Remember the Alamo!

Col. William Barrett Travis drew that line in the sand with the tip of his sword.

"Victory or Death!" was born in his heart and flowed from his pen.

And we remember the Alamo because Travis and the rest of the defenders gave their lives for Texas.

In honor of the 186th anniversary of its writing, here is the full text of the Victory or Death letter, exactly as Travis wrote it.




I am besieged, by a thousand or more of the Mexicans under Santa Anna. I have sustained a continual bombardment and cannonade for twenty-four hours & 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 & every thing dear to the American character, to come to our aid, with all dispatch. The enemy is receiving reinforcements daily & 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 & die like a soldier who never forgets what is due to his own honor and that of his country.


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, eighty or ninety bushels, and got into the walls twenty or thirty head of beeves. -Travis

It is a masterpiece of patriotism, but it reached the world in a slightly different form than what you just read.

When they set the type for the original broadside at San Felipe de Austin, Baker & Borden changed a few words, omitted the address line, and altered the salutation.

We have reproduced it for framing exactly as Travis wrote it.

Exactly as he handed it to Albert Martin who carried it from the Alamo.

Exactly as Martin handed it to Launcelot Smither who took it to San Felipe de Austin

Exactly as Launcelot Smither handed it to the Borden brothers at San Felipe.

This is the Victory or Death letter restored to the form Travis intended.

18 by 24 inches.

The type is clean, clear and legible. If your vision is 20/20 you can read it from across the room.

It's designed remind you of the men of the Alamo, and of their commander, and of the sacrifice they willingly made for the cause of liberty.

It's not just a pretty picture to hang on your wall.

It stands for something.

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