Thursday, February 5, 2015

My mother to a U.S. World War II veteran: "Thank you"

    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 teacher then).
      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 happened yesterday.
      "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."



  1. From Stephana Snyder Dean: Aww ... so special Your parents were wonderful. Still remember when we took them to the play "Ann Frank's Diary" that our son Robbie Dean was in (played the part of Peter). That was so special because they invited us into their home and talked to Robbie and us for a long time.

  2. From Janet McCallum German: As I have said before, your mom and dad were awesome, remarkable people. I feel blessed to be known by them and I thank you for continuing their mission. Let us never forget.

  3. From Warren Massia: I had the pleaure of drinking coffee with Slim in the mornings at McDonalds (in Natchitoches) for several years until he had his stroke -- great man.

  4. From Thomas Youngblood: It's always moving and testimony to the the guys and country that saved the world. Thanks.

  5. From Wally Rugg: Thanks for sharing this with your followers. A tremendously touching story. You have a deserving reason to be so proud of your parents.

  6. From Teddy Allen: Holy lord … “Wow” is as good as I can do. Thanks for this.

  7. From Chuck Baker: I can't imagine how Mr. Howell must have felt meeting someone he helped save. It must have been a moving experience for your mom as well.

  8. From James D. Gibson: Thanks. This has made my day.
    I had a couple of classes under Coach Howell at Northwestern. (He was on Coach Jack Clayton’s staff that coached the 1966 NAIA national championship team.) He was a great story teller on WW II, college football, and on just about anything. He told stories of people, soldiers and amusing things he saw and heard in the war, but he never talked at all about the war itself. Slim Howell is undoubtedly a hero; however, Ms. Davis’ account of his being at Normandy is something new to me. He never talked about his involvement in any military actions. I loved the man and, even now, he pops into my mind from time to time.
    Please thank Ms. Davis for sharing this. I would have loved to have been there to hear your mom, dad, and Coach Howell. These three wonderful people are a perfect example of why they call ‘The Greatest Generation’, The - Greatest - Generation.

  9. From Judy Stokes (Houston resident): Rose Van Thyn was small, but she was mighty, and she truly made a difference regarding hatred and intolerance. We can never give up or stop trying to make a difference,

  10. From Fred Howell: My Dad was Ernest Howell. I want to thank you and Ms. Davis for sharing this story with everyone. This was a very special day for both your Mom and my Dad, one that they never forgot. This story really touches my heart. It means so much to me and my family. I think about him daily. They endured a lot for us. Thank you for showing what great people they were, and they're not forgotten.