Remember the Alamo!


by Paul Drzaic
President, Society for Information Display

There is a bit of irony in the fact that this coming May and June, SID's Display Week is being held in San Antonio, Texas. San Antonio is the home of the Alamo, which has a special place in American folklore. The Alamo is the site of a famous battle in which a number of Texian soldiers, surrounded by an overwhelming enemy force, bravely defended their garrison in the Alamo. While the soldiers fought with valor, they eventually succumbed to their attackers. Their sacrifice was subsequently used as inspiration for the Texian army in future battles, and "Remember the Alamo!" is a rallying cry remembered even today within the U.S.

A bit of history is in order. Back in 1836, Texas was a part of Mexico, but a revolution was under way. The Anglo-American residents of the territory, known as Texians, wanted Texas and surrounding territories to declare their independence from Mexico. The Mission San Antonio de Valero (also known as the Alamo), located in San Antonio de Bexar, was a site of resistance held by the Texian army leading the revolt. The Mexican general Santa Anna decided that capturing the Alamo was an important means to break the revolution and sent an army to capture the site. Although the Texians were well aware of the approaching army, they had no means to retreat with their cannons. Rather than abandon this important hardware to the Mexican army, they decided to defend the mission to the death. "To the death" is exactly what happened – despite inflicting heavy losses on the Mexican army, the Texians were greatly outnumbered and eventually were overrun. Nearly all the defenders were killed, including some famous American legends such as Jim Bowie (of the "Bowie knife") and Davy Crockett ("King of the Wild Frontier"). The Alamo was lost.

These days, participants in most industries (including the electronic-display industry) must feel a bit like the defenders in the Alamo. Surrounded by economic enemies on all sides, with no obvious means of escape, it might seem like we are all in the fight of our lives. The forces outside the walls seem overwhelming, our options few. This is a serious time, one that tests all levels of an organization. Desperate times, indeed.

At times like these, it is worthwhile to step back and take the long view (yes, despite the current crisis, there is always a long view!). Take San Antonio as an example. Rather than break the back of the revolution, the battle of the Alamo served as a rallying cry for Texians to fight even harder. The Texian army attracted more recruits, and the "Remember the Alamo" cry inspired them for battle. The Texians won their revolution, and after a brief period as an independent state, Texas joined the United States. Today, San Antonio is the seventh largest city within the United States, with a vibrant international flavor, its famous River Walk, and yes, the Alamo, which has been preserved as a museum. So, while the defenders of the Alamo lost the battle, they laid the ground for winning the war.

The current economic crisis will end, sooner or later. When the economy begins to rebound, new technologies ready to launch will play a prominent role in that economic growth. Touch interfaces, green technology, flexible displays, and 3-D displays – all these areas will almost certainly be in high demand and will drive the profits of the future. SID in San Antonio will provide its usual high-quality mix of papers, exhibits, and tutorials; as well as the business conference and networking opportunities – part of the regular cycle of the electronic-display industry. You can also be sure that the technologies that will lead us out of the current economic downturn will be on view during Display Week. Can you afford not to be on top of some really important developments?

So, while "Remember SID in San Antonio" is unlikely to attain the popularity of "Remember the Alamo," I would not be surprised if the events in May and June will be setting the stage for future successes. You might even think about stopping by the Alamo to get some inspiration. I will; maybe I'll see you there! •