(FORT SAM HOUSTON, Texas) - "Remember the Alamo," said Maj. Gen. Keith Huber, commanding general, U.S. Army South, addressing members of the Daughters of the Republic of Texas and guests attending the memorial service at the Alamo March 6 in honor of the defenders of the Alamo.

The annual memorial service, sponsored by the Daughters of the Republic of Texas, commemorates the 173rd anniversary of the battle of the Alamo, a 13-day siege that began February 23 with the arrival of General Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna's army and ended March 6, 1836.

"One hundred and eighty men from 21 states and seven counties, at the conclusion of a 13-day siege, in a pre-dawn attack, this day 173 years ago, died here in the name of freedom. Less than 200 men facing thousands, who chose to remain throughout the night, who knew they would be killed by the next morning, understood and accepted that responsibility in the face of overwhelming odds. We honor their actions as a source of inspiration," said Huber.

Huber also recognized the creation of the organization of the Daughters of the Republic of Texas whose sole focus was to perpetuate the memory, the spirit of the men and women who achieved and maintained the independence of Texas.

The ceremony began with the ringing of the bell and the solemn event continued with each participant that included lighting of the candles, posting of the colors by the Alamo Rangers, roll call of names such as Bowie, Crockett and Travis and the reading of a scripture. Thirty military men and women presented flags that represented the state and nations of the defenders of the Alamo. One Soldier represented the unknown.

According to history, the Alamo was originally named MisiAfA3n San Antonio de Valero. The Alamo served as home to missionaries and their Indian converts for nearly seventy years. Construction began on the present site in 1724. In 1793, Spanish officials secularized San Antonio's five missions and distributed their lands to the remaining Indian residents. In the early 1800s, the Spanish military stationed a cavalry unit at the former mission. The soldiers referred to the old mission as the Alamo (the Spanish word for "cottonwood") in honor of their hometown Alamo de Parras, Coahuila.

In December 1835, Ben Milam led Texian and Tejano volunteers against Mexican troops quartered in the city. After five days of house-to-house fighting, they forced General MarAfAn Perfecto de CAfA3s and his soldiers to surrender. The victorious volunteers then occupied the Alamo.

On February 23, 1836, the arrival of General Antonio LAfA3pez de Santa Anna's army outside San Antonio nearly caught them by surprise. The Texians and Tejanos prepared to defend the Alamo together. The defenders held out for 13 days against Santa Anna's army. The final assault came before daybreak on the morning of March 6, 1836, as columns of Mexican soldiers emerged from the predawn darkness and headed for the Alamo's walls. By sunrise, the battle had ended and Santa Anna entered the Alamo.