SAN ANTONIO -- With the ringing of the Alamo Bell by Sam Clark, president general of the Sons of the Republic of Texas, followed by the posting of the colors by the Alamo Rangers, the memorial service inside the Alamo Shrine March 6 for the 189 defenders of the Alamo who perished 175 years ago in 1836 began.

During a solemn ceremony hosted by the Daughters of the Republic of Texas, candles were lit by the children of the Republic of Texas.

As Patti Atkins, president general of the Daughters of the Republic of Texas, called out the names of states and nations of the defenders, local military personnel carrying flags of the states and countries of the known birthplaces of the defenders came forward and presented each flag at the center of the shrine.

Darrien Jones, a 15-year-old ROTC student at Cole High School on Fort Sam Houston, represented the unknown birthplaces of the defenders.

"By this time on Sunday, March 6, 1836, the sounds of gunfire had faded," said Maj. Gen. Simeon Trombitas, commanding general, U.S. Army South. "The stench of spent gun powder and funeral pyres hung in the air. The ground was stained with brave men's blood."

The general told of how General Antonio LAfA3pez de Santa Anna described it as "but a small affair." Trombitas went on to say that none of the 189 defenders were professional soldiers. They were farmers, lawyers, clerks, doctors and storekeepers, while others were frontiersmen.

All were immigrants having come to Texas for various reasons - for some the prospect of free land and for others, for prospect of adventure.

While some like William Travis, Jim Bowie and Davy Crockett are remembered in history books, many others are forgotten. The one thing they all shared was the willingness to fight for freedom.

After reading a Travis letter asking for support, Trombitas described the battle, with the opening cannon shot at 5 a.m. to the last breakthrough into the Alamo.

"From the ashes of the funeral pyre rose a legend of historic defiance and a cry 'Remember the Alamo' that rallied Texans to defeat Santa Anna and win independence," the general said. "The Alamo is a symbol to America's resolve in fighting tyranny anywhere in the world."

He said how the "men of the Alamo had the faith in knowing that what they were doing was right."

Trombitas concluded by saying, "Today when we say 'Remember the Alamo,' we really say remember the courage and conviction of the men who fought and died here. Texas, our military and our nation will be forever grateful for the men who gave their lives here 175 years ago today. We are in their debt."