This day 1836, Jim Bowie arrived at the Alamo with thirty volunteers. I've occasionally thought of the Alamo over here, on those occasions we've had mortars or rockets. Of course we are not surrounded by an enemy army, nor in danger of being wiped out; the experience here is suggestive, more than similar. You do see "the rocket's red glare; the bombs bursting in air," quite literally in both cases, even though the insurgent's rocket of 2008 is probably somewhat less accurate than the British rocket of 1812.
That said, it does provide me the chance to reflect on the bravery of better men who have gone before. The Alamo is regularly celebrated here at Grim's Hall, and the model of gentlemen that defended her. Americans have long celebrated Crockett and Bowie -- see this collection of 'Bowie style' knives, made from the 1830s through the 1970s; others are still made today.
Bowie was a friend to the pirate Jean Lafitte, as was Andrew Jackson. As Byron wrote of Lafitte:
Linked with one virtue, and a thousand crimes."
We celebrate the virtue, and forgive the crimes; may others remember us as kindly, in spite of ourselves.
UPDATE: On a related note, a question from a Fred Thompson rally:
Man: Fred, I drove over 500 miles to see you.The reporter finishes the report by sighing, "I hate being a Yankee."
Thompson: Bless your heart. Let's give this man a hand. (Applause, cheers)
Man: I came over Finch Mountain in a snowstorm. (Pause) May I call you Fred?
Man: That's okay until January and I can call you Mr. President. (Laughter, more applause). Now, I've got a question.
Thompson: Yes sir.
Man: (Pause) I'm looking for a tall man who will stand tall for America. (Pause.) Who will cut the ears off of earmarks! (Pause.) Stop dead illegal immigration! (Pause.) And pull the teeth of activist judges...
Man: ... who take your house to build 7-Eleven! (Pause, then louder) And I want to know if you've got a Jim Bowie knife and a good strong pair (pause) of Channellock pliers! (Laughter, even more applause, calls of "That's right!" and "Hear, hear!")
We can certainly understand that. :)