I posted this as a Throwback Thursday item on Facebook, and the response was strong enough that I wanted to include it here with some of the comments
Credit to Teresa Davis,
who is on staff at Ringgold (La.) Elementary School -- in the town where
Bea went to high school -- and sent me this story and these photos. It
is a remembrance of one of my mother's speaking engagements on the
Holocaust at Martin High School (where Teresa was a social studies
From Teresa ...
"The man she is talking to is a World War II veteran who died [little more than a year ago]. He ...was
on the beaches of Normandy. His name is Ernest Howell. He was very
young when he joined the Army. When his time was up to go home, he
refused because he had a job to do.
"His son comes to
our Veteran's Day programs. Mr. Howell came to talk to my students about
his time during the war. When he and your Mom and Dad were at my school
together, Martin High School, it was a very moving time.
"Your mother sat on the front row after she had spoken to our
students and listened to every word he said. He told my students that he
was not a hero. He was doing what needed to be done and what was right.
Mrs. Van Thyn raised her hand and said, 'To me, you are a hero.' This
put the whole place into silence and of course I cried.
"After the program she walked up to him, and as you can tell she
had to look up at him, and said, 'Thank You.' This was one of the most
memorable days in my entire teaching career, and I remember like it
"They shared a special bond although they had never met one another until that day.
"I loved your Mom and Dad."
(Ernest Howell was Coach "Slim" Howell, a coach and
teacher at Northwestern State University in the late 1950s and through
the 1960s who coached and taught at a lot of places before and after his
time at NSU.)
"Those like your Mom, Dad and Mr.
Howell went through so much, and they deserve to be remembered and
honored. They have left a lesson for all of us and I take great joy in
teaching that to our young people today. There is so much of that era
that has long been forgotten. It is so important to teach those coming
along who paved the road for them and the great price that was paid."