Our San Antonio MIssions Should Be World Heritage Sites!
Commissioner Tommy Adkisson
December 14, 2012
According to the United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organization's online site, the "World Heritage Centre is the designation for places on Earth that are of outstanding universal value to humanity and as such, have been inscribed on the World Heritage List to be protected for future generations to appreciate and enjoy. Places as diverse and unique as the Pyramids of Egypt, the Great Barrier Reef in Australia, Galápagos Islands in Ecuador, the Taj Mahal in India, the Grand Canyon in the USA, or the Acropolis in Greece are examples of the 911 natural and cultural places inscribed on the World Heritage List to date."
According to my research, the United States has 21 designated World Heritage sites. Texas has none! Wikipedia says that "as of 2012, 962 sites are listed: 745 cultural, 188 natural, and 29 mixed properties, in 157 states parties. By sites ranked by country, Italy is home to the greatest number of World Heritage Sites with 47 sites, followed by Spain (44) and China (43)."
To help change that miserable situation, last week I traveled to Washington, DC to make a nearly three-day sprint to lobby for a World Heritage Site designation for the San Antonio Missions! Others and I led a delegation from Bexar County and San Antonio and visited with our Bexar County’s Congressional Delegation consisting of Reps Charles Gonzalez, Henry Cuellar, Lamar Smith and Lloyd Doggett regarding consideration by the UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) to seek this prestigious designation for our community. We will follow up with San Antonio’s Congressman-Elect Joaquin Castro and Congressman-Elect, Pete Gallego. Being the historical epicenter of Texas and perhaps the Southwestern region of the U.S., one would think we should be a huge favorite for approval.
U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar has approved the nomination of the San Antonio missions as a World Heritage site, but it still needs UNESCO approval. If approved in 2013 by the UNESCO committee and added to the World Heritage list in 2014, the missions – initially one of 13 "tentative" U.S. sites – would join the Statue of Liberty and Grand Canyon and Yosemite national parks.
What a great credit to our historic Southside, our entire community, its economy and its historical standing in the world our obtaining World Heritage designation of the Missions would be!