UNESCO’s Alamo Input Ain’t Welcome…and Ain’t Right

by Michelle M. Haas

The new Executive Director of the Alamo is seeking UNESCO approval for Alamo exhibits and needs to understand that’s not how we do things things in Texas.

In 2015, when the San Antonio Missions received designation as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, some Texans were concerned that the United Nations might have a say in what happens at the mission that sealed that deal – the Alamo.

GLO Commissioner George P. Bush took a bold stance back then. “It ain’t gonna happen,” he said in a statement. “I believe that safeguarding the crown jewels of Texas history is one of the General Land Office’s most important roles.”

Though some take issue with his politics or political family name, I’ve always been an unabashed fan of what he’s done with the office. Bush has done wonders showcasing the many services the GLO performs for Texans. Everything from oil spill cleanups here on the coast to preserving the state’s historic Texas maps, the General Land Office does a little bit of everything.

I’ve had high hopes that Commissioner Bush would remain a champion of his biggest job: that of Alamo custodian. Now I have reason for doubt.

The Alamo unveiled a new cannon exhibit in April. Shortly after the exhibit opened, rumors floated that it was only to be a temporary exhibit. Seems odd that so much time, research and money would be spent to fabricate a cannon and a build a platform on the spot where it would have sat in 1836, for temporary purposes, right?

I asked questions of those in the know, but nobody seemed to know exactly why the new 18-pounder exhibit was only temporary.

During the May 4, 2021 meeting of the Alamo Citizens Advisory Committee, the new Alamo Executive Director, Kate Rogers, was asked why the exhibit is only temporary. 18 months, to be exact. Her response was troubling.

“…as I understand it…it had to do with permitting from UNESCO. Since we are a World Heritage Site, there are certain things we can do in terms of permanent improvements to the site, and certain things that have to be temporary.”

Say what now?

The lease the GLO has with the City of San Antonio for Alamo Plaza begs to differ with Ms. Rogers and does so in very plain language.

Here were are, nearly a month out from Rogers’ patently incorrect statement, and Commissioner Bush is silent. Only when asked by Texas Scorecard did the GLO make a statement via their press secretary. And even then, they said she merely “misspoke.”

So where’s the George P. Bush who said his office is tasked with safeguarding the crown jewels of Texas history? Where’s the bold leadership from the one man in the State of Texas with the authority to keep our sacred site on course?

As a supporter, a Texan and a lady with a large audience, I need clarification from Commissioner Bush that the Alamo is still a priority. I’d like to know that, at bare minimum, Director Rogers is familiar with the lease on the site she’s managing and that UNESCO has no say in the Alamo’s exhibits. If UNESCO interference is not the reason, why is the new cannon display not permanent?

It’s imperative that Texans hear from the man tasked with safeguarding the Shrine of Texas Liberty.

What say you, Commissioner Bush?

3 replies »

  1. GPB has checked out. He has set his sights on another office. I hope you get the answer you’re looking for from him.

  2. The 18-pounder exhibit should remain a permanent feature on the plaza, but I doubt that legislative intent, or any job description, for the position of GLO Commissioner would ever dictate that his/her “biggest job” is “that of Alamo custodian.” I doubt the rest of the state’s land supervision needs would benefit from such a myopic focus on any one site, however important.

    • When the state’s most visited historic site is in a state of flux and decay, yes that is his biggest job. Acutely so.

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