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Decision to Allow Booze at Alamo Draws Criticism

The Daughters of the Republic of Texas, which controlled the site until a year ago, has called the decision disrespectful to the memory of the Alamo.

Jerry Patterson, Texas land commissioner (left) and Karen Thompson, president general, Daughters of the Republic

A decision to allow alcohol at the Alamo Complex, announced Thursday by the Texas General Land Office, is drawing criticism from the Daughters of the Republic of Texas. The hallowed ground, the group said, is no place for a beer bash.

The DRT, which had charge of the complex until last year, has long opposed allowing alcoholic beverages at the site, said organization President Katherine Thompson.

“It’s actually where men died fighting for freedom, and we feel that offers you a different level of respect,” Thompson said. “That standard to keep that respect would not be a party atmosphere — not to drink, not to celebrate. It’s not a place to celebrate. It’s not Disneyland.”

But Texas Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson said he did not see how allowing alcohol to be served would be disrespectful.

“I’m a retired Marine — I’m a Vietnam veteran — and I’ve been involved in many toasts,” he said. “I don’t see anything irreverent.”

In fact, Patterson, a history buff, said only one of the men who fought at the Alamo was a teetotaler: Lt. Col. William Travis. A substantial number of Alamo defenders were hung over when the Mexican Army arrived on the outskirts San Antonio, he said. 

The site where alcohol will be allowed is a reception area that previously served as a fire station, Patterson said. The building was not a part of the “original footprint” of the Alamo compound as it existed in the 1800s.

Thompson compared the site to Gettysburg or the U.S.S. Arizona, saying such locations deserve a respect that goes beyond what one might display at a museum. But Patterson said alcohol is allowed at reception halls near both Gettysburg and the Arizona memorial.

Patterson said the Land Office, which the Legislature last year gave control over the site, did not have a particular reason for allowing alcohol but that it didn’t see any rationale to prohibit it. He said he did not expect the office to change its decision.

The DRT has considered allowing alcohol at the site before, Patterson said, though the measure never received a majority vote from the organization.

“It’s not as if we dropped this on them and they never heard of it,” he said.

The decision will go into effect at the end of July. Thompson said that if the state does intend to allow alcohol, the DRT will want to have a voice in establishing rules or regulations for how that change is implemented.

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