Today I’ve been thinking thinking about The Alamo. Actually, more it is more about the three primary characters of our collective memory- Davy Crockett, Col. Travis, and Jim Bowie. I’m looking to reread “Three Roads to the Alamo” by William Davis. It must have been relegated to the garage library which could mean days before I find it.
I need to reread it because I it has been so long that I only have a snapshot knowledge of the book, and I remember that it was chock full of important concepts. The one snapshot I have is still very powerful and I would like to share it.
It seems to me that in the representation of the three characters, there is a wonderful picture of the hero. We need heroes, and if we don’t have them in reality, then we create them. Sometimes they are based upon flesh and bone, but most times it is fiction. From Superman to Spider-man, Jason Bourne to James Bond, the hero is crafted with strength, values, determination and sometimes visible flaws. We forgive those flaws and we are rewarded with vicarious victories. I prefer the flesh and bone hero.
The fictional hero meets so many standards because the author works hard to make it so. The knowledge we have is limited to the knowledge we are given by the author, so we invent anything else that we need. The flesh and bone hero is simply human, and the knowledge we have is based upon the continuing relationship with the human character. The human hero is based upon heroic action, probably a single event, but the human involved had a life before, and at times a life after the event.
The two military heroes I think about are Sgt. Alvin York and Lt. Audie Murphy. Much has been written about their lives before and their lives after, and I think there should be an interesting book that could be written in a joint study. I need to research this to see if it has.
I do know that “Three Roads to the Alamo” is just such a book. The missing part is that all three died in the heroic event so that important part is missing. The representation of the characters in the book is the lasting snapshot that I have in my memory.
Davy Crockett is the All-American good guy. Rough around the edges, wearing buckskins, and moccasins, blending in the forest, a natural man, civilized but uncomfortable in cities, the rugged individual with a pure heart. “Figure out what is right, then go ahead,” is the oft quoted phrase.
Col. William Travis is the representation of the organization man. The man of structure, following orders, dressed in uniform, strict in the interpretation of rules, rising above his flawed personal background, the classic citizen soldier.
Jim Bowie is the bad boy. A lifetime of fighting face to face, preferring the knife to dueling pistols, up close conflict, sometimes tied to his opponent with a scarf. A violent man with a past that had been evil, but perhaps turned when he got married. Then, when disease killed his entire family, we are left with a violent man with no hope for a future, fighting for a cause that only benefitted others.
So that’s what I have now. Rereading this book may modify my takeaway, or it may enhance it further. I must got to the garage to find out.