I’m very excited! I’m going to be volunteering at the Alamo!
I will also be operating one of the tour boats on the Riverwalk near the Alamo. Naturally, I will be relocating from Austin to San Antonio in the not too-distant future.
My adventure began to unfold three weeks ago when I had a day off from my job at the storage locker facility. There is a little-known “law” that requires every Texan to make an annual pilgrimage to the Alamo. Instead of watching NetFlix on my day off, I decided I would once again visit the sacred ground where 189 men died fighting for Texas Independence.
I had called the Alamo office to ask a question, and after a 30-minute conversation, the woman said, “I think you’d make a great docent at the Alamo.” Before I even arrived, I had interview appointment scheduled for 11:00am. We Baby Boomers would never be late for an appointment, so I arrived at the Alamo two hours early. I wandered around memorizing all the information I didn’t already know. During that time, three couples approached me and asked me questions. I not sure how people decide that I must know what I’m talking about, but I gave each couple a passionate, 20-minute presentation explaining what would motivate men to stay and fight to the death, rather than escape to fight another day.
My interview went very well, and yesterday I finished my third day of training. Most of the volunteers wear cowboy hats, red shirts, and khaki slacks, and are positioned around the Alamo waiting for people to ask them questions. I will be a member of the “Living History” program. I have been given clothes of the style worn in the 1830s, and I will be teaching people how the cannons were fired, how to shoot a muzzle-loaded rifle, and some of the (gruesome) medical procedures in use at the time. I thought I knew a lot about the Alamo, but the people I am working with have been teaching me a lot about one of my favorite topics. My friend Darren jokes that I only want to volunteer at the Alamo to increase the chances that I will have a heart attack on the property – and then my friends will be able to say, “Michael died at the Alamo”. Wow. I’m not planning on that, but… I could be remembered for a lot worse.
The other famous attraction in San Antonio is the Riverwalk. There are two and a half miles of man-made canal connected to the San Antonio River. Brightly painted tour boats travel the canal pointing out historic locations, and sharing interesting facts about the oldest city in Texas. I talked with three of the boat operators who quickly decided I would make a great addition to the team. I submitted my application to the owner and had this conversation:
Do you have any experience with power boats?
I learned to sail when I was fourteen.
Yes, but do you have any experience with power boats?
I was a scuba instructor, a skydiving instructor, I ran for President of the United States, and I ran for Congress. How hard could it be?
My interview went extremely well. I go for a drug screen this morning, and I will begin my boat training on Monday if all goes well. They are in a hurry to get me qualified because November and December are insanely busy during the holidays, and my job is to make sure that visitors to San Antonio have a good time. I am confident that I can make that happen.
As an extrovert, I think I may have found my niche. Y’all are invited to visit me in Texas.
Today was my first official day as an Alamo volunteer. I was assigned to the artillery exhibit where I explained how cannons were used during the siege. A few people would approach and I would begin my presentation, but before I was finished I usually had more than a dozen people eagerly listening to my story about how Texas finally won its independence. I asked them what would motivate 189 men would fight and die, rather than escape while they had the chance. I asked them to recall the smell when they accidentally singed their hair with a candle, and then asked them to imagine the smell of 189 human bodies being burned on funeral pyres. I helped them to understand why the Alamo is a sacred shrine to those of us who love Texas so much. One man even came back a few minutes later to say, Thank you for reminding me why freedom is so important. It should be pretty obvious that I’m going to love this job.
The Alamo has a very special presentation that will be presented during the evening of March 5th, the day before the fall of the Alamo in 1836. It is called An Evening with Heroes The website says:
What would it have been like to be present at the Alamo during the siege leading up to the battle? Join the Alamo for a special, after-hours theater where you’ll witness the events and conversations that took place the evening before the final attack.
Our 15th Annual An Evening With Heroes takes place after the Alamo is closed to the public, allowing you to experience the grounds like you never have before. A guide will lead your group through nine candlelit scenarios as you witness history unfold.
Naturally, I have already volunteered to participate. If you were thinking of visiting me in San Antonio, this evening would be a good time to do it. Here is a 90 second video of the presentation they did in 2018.
Remember the Alamo!