By Allie Morris, Austin Bureau, Published 8:47 pm, Friday, February 23, 2018
Three Republicans challenging Land Commissioner George P. Bush slammed his proposal to relocate the granite Cenotaph from Alamo Plaza during a rally Friday night.
“This is the symbol of liberty, and it shall stay right here,” said candidate Jerry Patterson, who led the General Land Office for 12 years before Bush.
Roughly 100 people gathered at the 60-foot monument to protest the ambitious Alamo redevelopment plan Bush has undertaken during his first term in office. The potentially $450 million, multiyear plan aims to restore dignity to the historic site that draws thousands of visitors each year, Bush has said.
But the plan to restore open space on the historic battlefield — by relocating the Cenotaph honoring fallen Alamo defendants — faces fierce resistance.
Patterson and the two other challengers — land surveyor Davey Edwards and retired firefighter Rick Range — pledged to keep the Cenotaph in place.
“It’s not going out of sight and out of mind,” Edwards said. “We’re going to fight not with weapons; we are going to fight in the polling booths with our votes.”
“On the first day in office, what I will do is I will send armed Texas Rangers down here to guard this place 24 hours a day with orders to arrest anybody who even attempts to try to touch it,” Range said.
The primary is March 6.
Bush did not attend the rally and has said any final decision will be determined by the public input being solicited over the next few months.
“The (Land Office) has retained a highly respected outside firm to marshal a massive effort to garner the input of Texans regarding the plan to restore and rejuvenate The Alamo — our state’s most precious monument and one of America’s,” campaign spokesman Lee Spieckerman said in a statement. “The findings will heavily influence how we hone the Alamo plan and specifically what steps we take with the Cenotaph.”
Before the Remember the Alamo rally — organized by This Is Texas Freedom Force — attendees processed around the shrine and laid a wreath in front of the mission-era church. Friday marked the anniversary of the arrival of Santa Anna’s army on Feb. 23, 1836, before the siege and battle for which the site is known.
“We consider the Cenotaph a family tomb,” said attendee Raylon Schlueder, an Alamo defender descendant. “It would be like me going to the cemetery and saying, ‘Hey, there’s your grandfather’s headstone; I am going to dig it up and move it to a more appropriate place.’”