The Alamo, John Wayne and Faith

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The tumult and the shouting dies—
The Captains and the Kings depart—
Still stands Thine ancient sacrifice,
An humble and a contrite heart.

Rudyard Kipling, from Recessional

Interesting that John Wayne, who directed the film The Alamo, would have a religious debate just before the final battle scene.  However, as I have written in a post which may be read here, John Wayne, death bed Catholic convert, had a strong faith in God, even as he realized that in many ways he was not living properly.  The film The Alamo was first and foremost Wayne’s love note to America, but I think Wayne was also making a statement about faith in God.

Wayne’s personal relationship with God is represented well in this clip, beginning at 9:26, that did not make it into the film.


Some of us are blessed to establish early in our lives, usually through the good example of our parents, a firm faith in God and a striving, always imperfect, to do His will.  Others are searchers most of their lives, and go down many strange byways, often far from God.  However, those who call upon God with a humble and contrite heart, no matter how late the hour, can reap the full reward as the workers who have labored all their lives in the vineyards of the Lord.  This vale of tears can give us great tragedies to endure, but the love of God will see us through anything that life can bring us, as we pray for entry into the Kingdom of Love Eternal.


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  1. Beautiful piece of work Donald.
    So true about “time.” In a moment,.or after five decades of humble labor, it’s never ours to decide or judge. He IS who IS, and we the dust on HIS feet.
    I believe that is what makes us his children, an undenibe realization that nothing in this life is ours, except our short comings. He is the King of Kings, the true DUKE, the real HERO.

  2. A hunger for God exists in us all Philip. Much of the chaos of our time is because of efforts to deny this hunger or to channel it to new false gods. Wayne was wise enough to understand this hunger and satisfy his before his final curtain call.

  3. Donald. In a humble disposition I ask if you could allow me to help in feeding this thirst.

    On Oct. 12th, over 10,950 cities will be united in the Holy Rosary around the world. The following day, the 96th anniversary of Our Ladys Oct. Miracle of the Sun in Fatima. Pope Francis will be consecrating the world to Her Immaculate Heart. Please consider this topic, conversions and helping to give living waters to the thirsty. The site to find a city near you is;

    Thank you for your consideration.

    12 Noon on Oct. 12th.

  4. Like Columbo……oh one thing.
    If folks do not find a city or town near them, then by all means they can host the rally. This is my third one. It’s very easy. Please go to; to find out more.
    “In the end my Immaculate Heart will triumph.”
    Our Lady in Fatima.

  5. The funny thing is that Wayne gives much more credit to Santa Ana and his Mexicans than they deserve. Honour to fallen foes was the last thing on their mind, and I would rather not think what they would have done to a woman and a girl-child who had fallen alive in their hands. They would certainly not have let them go alive and untouched, let alone with the honour of arms. It is know from Mexican documents that about half of the defenders, including Crockett, fell into Mexican hands still alive and were butchered while helpless. (That is not a slur on their courage, simply that it is impossible for any garrison to die fighting to the last man. As you know, American troops took many prisoners even at Iwo Jima and Okinawa.) That is the same that the Mexicans did at Goliad. Wayne wanted, for his own artistic and moral reasons, a clash of heroes, honourable and brave and respectful of each other’s honour and courage. That is probably not very historical, but makes for a marvellous movie, which, having originally been butchered by the critics for political reasons, is now being recognized as one of the great Westerns. (I heard the name of Akira Kurosawa being tossed around as a term of comparison.)

  6. The woman depicted Fabio is Susanna Dickinson, the widow of Captain Dickinson in charge of the Texan artillery at the Alamo. She and her small daughter were treated with chivalry by Santa Ana after the fall of the Alamo, according to her account, with the self proclaimed “Napoleon of the West” even offering to adopt her daughter and educate her at his expense, an offer declined by Mrs. Dickinson. Santa Anna was a bundle of contradictions and was quite capable of ordering an atrocity one moment and making a generous gesture the next.

    Like most of Wayne’s work, The Alamo has more than stood the test of time, the true test of any work of art.

  7. ‘Looking up at him I thought, this is no actor but the hero of all mythology miraculously brought to life.’

    Louise Brooks on John Wayne

    Regarding his portrayal of Santa Ana , I recall reading years ago that he very much wanted to avoid providing any sort of encouragement to anti Hispanic prejudice.

  8. Wayne always had a deep respect for Hispanic culture and spent a large amount of time south of the border, particularly in Panama. He chose as his epitaph: “Feo, Fuerte y Formal”, and it is a shame that has not yet been put on his grave site.

  9. I think John Wayne spent his life perfecting a certain range of characters. He tried to step out of them – once as a centurion, once as Gengis Khan – without great success, which shows that his tremendous manhood was not just manly, but specifically American, and nineteenth-early twentieth American at that. Some actors reach their best when stepping outside their usual roles. Helen Mirren, the everlasting Sexy Older Woman, won the Oscar virtually by acclamation for her splendid portrayal of Queen Elizabeth – a woman she did not resemble physically and who could not possibly be played sexy. Ben Kingsley, the positive hero of Gandhi, positively stole Satan’s role in Sexy Beast. Wayne could not have done that. But in what he did, he was supreme. Many great actors, including the best – Bogart, Tracy, Gary Cooper, Gregory Peck – have done cowboys or cowboy-type heroes, but nobody has so filled the screen in them as Wayne has, nobody has ever projected that depth of experience and living, that stoical, enduring humanity. Katharine Hepburn, a woman in whose presence other actors trembled (it is said that if you look carefully, you can actually see Judy Hollyday shaking in Adam’s Rib), dedicated one chapter of her autobiography to unstinted, fluent and delighted praise of him as man and actor, ending with: “….Wayne has a wonderful gift of natural speed. Of arrested motion. Of going suddenly off on a new tack. Try something totally unrehearsed with him. He takes the ball and runs and throws with a freedom and wit and gaiety which is great fun. As powerful as is his personality, so too is his acting capacity powerful. He is a very very good actor in the most highbrow sense of the word. You don’t catch him at it.”

  10. AT the time of the Alamo, Texas was a Mexican territory. Catholic Mexico had recently abolished slavrey in mexico. Mexico went to the Alamo to enforce the abolition laws. American settlers, protestans and evangelicals in the Texas territory of Mexico warned Mexico not to enforce the anti slavery laws. You want to remember the Alamo? Then remember it was a battle to protect the rights of Americans to hold men in bondage. I have a book that has just been released that tells this whole story

  11. Rubbish Steve. Santa Anna was a brutal dictator who had no respect for any form of human liberty. Both Texans and Tejanos opposed his rule. The flag that flew over the Alamo had 1824 on it, in reference to the democratic constitution of Mexico that Santa Anna had suppressed. Texas was only one of seven states that rebelled against Santa Anna, the others being brutally suppressed. Santa Anna was no friend of either liberty or the Catholic Church as this statement by him indicates:

    Say to Mr. Poinsett that it is very true that I threw up my cap for liberty with great ardor, and perfect sincerity, but very soon found the folly of it. A hundred years to come my people will not be fit for liberty. They do not know what it is, unenlightened as they are, and under the influence of a Catholic clergy, a despotism is the proper government for them, but there is no reason why it should not be a wise and virtuous one.

  12. I would go futher. Santa Ana became a tyrant BECAUSE he was an enemy of the Church. Starting as an anti-clerical liberal, and frustrated by the Catholic culture of his country, he threw democracy overboard, as many left-wing caudillos have done since. True, some of the issues the Texans had with him had to with slavery – even though very few Texans then or since actually held slaves; they just came from parts where the holding of slaves was seen as natural. But the bigger issue was the loss of representative government and the constitution of 1824, and, as you say, many more federal states revolted against Santa Ana’s usurpation. The Texans were the only ones who succeeded, and, being cut off not only from Santa Ana’s tyranny but also from any liberal or democratic prospects in other parts of Mexico, drifted ever closer to the much closer and more populous Anglo giant to the east. But none of that was fated.

  13. Rubbish? your deep held belief in the “Black Legend” is rubbish…
    Did you know the second president of mexico was a black man – his father was of african decent. read this

    Why is it EVERY foreign leader who does not fit the American narrative is a “brutal dictator” The fact is evangelical and prostestants were responsible for all the racial horrors that best this great country .. The Indian Relocation Act of 1831, the trail of tears, slavery, 600,000 dead in a chastisement that General Grant called “God’s punishment’ for the Mexican American war.

  14. You are a very silly man. Who was the second president of Mexico has nothing to do with whether Santa Ana was a brute or not. Nor does the Trail of Tears. You simply don’t know how to make a point – nobody has ever taught you that you have to stick to the point, and that irrelevant material is irrelevant. Now go home and sue your old schoolteachers, they deserve it.

  15. “your deep held belief in the “Black Legend” is rubbish…”

    Oh yes, I spend my time on this blog perpetrating anti-Catholic bad history, as anyone who has read my many posts on historical subjects on this blog can attest! 🙂

    Your reaction and resort to ridiculous allegations was caused by the simple fact that you were called on your obvious ignorance of the Alamo and the Mexican history surrounding it, and you had no response other than to flail about.

  16. Maister B.

    The quote from Katherine Hepburn is new to me. I will make a point of getting hold of the autobiography for my collection. Many thanks.

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