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BERNARD J. TAYLOR

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Liberty!
The Siege of the Alamo

Introduction
By Bernard J. Taylor

Ever since I finished writing my first musical , I have nursed the ambition to write something about the pioneering days of the American west. As a child I was addicted to western movies and had an insatiable appetite for the folklore of the American pioneers. As a ten-year-old I even formed a little group known as the Davy Crockett Gang, who went around singing "Daveee, Davy Crockett, king of the the wild frontier."

Then, on a visit to San Antonio to visit a friend, I found myself wandering around the Alamo and suddenly I realised that this was America's own version of Camelot - except that this was a real story of a people who had chosen to stand and fight for their freedom even though they knew that they would almost certainly die. What particularly struck me, while looking at the names on the walls inside the Alamo, was how many of those names were of Hispanic origin - which brought home to me the fact that the fight for freedom against the rule of Mexico and Santa Anna was not just an Anglo-American concern. There were also the names of people from England, Ireland, Scotland, Germany, Scandinavia. A real international brotherhood. And what made their story so different from other stories of heroic sacrifice - like the British Charge of the Light Brigade - was that these men did not sacrifice their lives under the orders of someone remote from the scene of battle, nor indeed under the orders of a field commander. They were volunteers. They were free men with the freedom to choose their fate. They could surrender or die, or they could simply run away. Unlike the soldiers of the Light Brigade they had a choice. And they chose to live and die by what had then become their battle cry - liberty or death.

By the time I walked out of the Alamo on that first visit, I had already decided what my next project would be. Within a short time I was reading all the books I could on the subject and going to see Dr Richard Winders, the curator of the Alamo, for guidance. But I did not approach this project without some trepidation. I knew I was dealing with a legend that had become sacred to many Americans, and was fully expecting some opposition from people asking who was this British guy to presume to tamper with one of the proud moments of American history. And turning it into a musical at that! But I am happy to say that I encountered nothing but friendliness and support from the people I met in Texas - which more than lived up to its reputation for hospitality.

 

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