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A Tradition Worth Guarding

San Antonio Academy's participation in the citywide Fiesta parades can be traced back to the mid-1930s. As the only school in the city to participate, The Academy's Honor Guard plays a significant role during the Battle of The Flowers parade by placing floral wreaths on the sacred ground in front of the Alamo. The wreaths symbolize the soldiers who were killed during the Battle of the The Alamo.

A bead of sweat trickles down the side of his face, but he doesn't flinch. Standing at attention, he's got a job to do and he takes it very seriously, even though he's surrounded by distractions. Outfitted in his drill blue uniform, complete with the vintage-looking officer’s trousers, his formal attire adds another layer of challenge amidst the South Texas heat. Ten minutes into his arduous duty, another young cadet approaches. They salute to signify the changing of the guard. 

Like a scene that could be taken straight from a Steven Spielberg movie, this stoic moment is one that is acted out every April. The set backdrop: one of the most famous locations in our nation, the Alamo.

San Antonio Academy has participated in the city's historic Battle of the Flowers Parade dating back to the mid-1930s, at the time when SAA was also a high school. Cadets marched down the Parade route often feted as celebrities. A half-century later, The Academy's young honor guards' duty is portrayed in a more somber manner. That's because, as the city’s only locally-oriented military school cadets, they've been granted the prestigious honor of symbolically guarding the shrine of Texas’ freedom.

While all boys in grades 5th through 8th are able to participate, it's the 8th graders who have the sole privilege of accepting the floral tributes from the parade floats as they pass in front of the Alamo. The guys wait patiently in the noise and heat to vie for the opportunity to collect tributes from the parade dignitaries who include the Mayor, the Chief of Police and, from the cadets' point of view, the coveted Silver Spurs Dancers. 

The tributes honor the fallen soldiers who lost their lives during the Battle of the Alamo. Witnessing the ceremonial act of accepting, and then slowly marching back to carefully lay the floral tribute onto the sacred ground in front of the Alamo, is a visual treasure. It also marks one of the final traditional milestones for the cadet, who just weeks later will graduate from San Antonio Academy. 

"A number of our students can reach back through generations of their families to the Texas independence. The cadets volunteer to come out on what would otherwise be a day off of school” notes Frank Stanage, Commandant and Associate Head of School/Dean of Students. He adds, “To them, this duty represents a commitment to honoring those who fell in the Battle of the Alamo. It is truly a capstone event in which, regardless of changes to the Battle of Flowers parade route, we fully expect to participate for the foreseeable future.”

No matter what the city plans ultimately shape up to be, San Antonio Academy will always hold dear to the memories of Parades past. And like any blockbuster, we look forward to our future script, one that’s certain to be filled with many movie-worthy moments.