A Mother's Legacy - To My Daughter With Love
My Mom was the best teacher I ever had. From years ago, sitting on her lap, to years later, sitting over a cup of coffee, Mom gave me the foundation I needed in every aspect of life.
Mom never preached. She never demanded. Many of her lessons to me were received by watching her live her life in a virtuous manner.
Through my adult years, I had given Mom several journals, some with built in questions and others, blank, for free expression. I was never so bold as to ask for them back. I prayed that she would take some time to write, with so many nuggets of wisdom and family history to share. Mom was sharp as a tack until the day she died on May 7, 2010, at the age of 82.
Mom's memories of school ....
"High school was a feeling that we were now grown-ups. As a freshman, my favorite subjects were Latin and English. Maybe I chose those two because I liked the teacher so much. As a freshman, she was Miss Esalee Jordan. I had her for English all four years. She married and became Mrs John Burdette. She taught me Latin I and Latin II. As a Junior and senior, she was my French I and French II teacher. She could somehow always make a class interesting and keep your attention.
I also liked US History as a senior probably because we were involved in World War II. I'll never forget the chills I felt when President Roosevelt declared war after Pearl Harbor.
My high school days were carefree.` As a junior in Physical Ed, I played catcher and third base in softball. We also had an obstacle course we had to tackle twice a week.
I think Home Economics was my least favorite subject. But one year was compulsory to complete graduation requirements. I took it my junior year. I did make an apron and a dress. Also, we had some cooking sessions.
I graduated on May 24th, 1943, and 4 days later I had my 16th birthday. Having earned good grades, I was the class Valedictorian. I won an all expense paid tuition at the University of Georgia. I also won a scholarship for a 2-year business course in Athens. Naturally, none of it came to fruition."
According to my Father, a girl didn't need more than a high school education. Marriage was the chosen career during the 1940s.
Mom's Valedictorian Speech: America- Our Heritage
Parents, Teachers, Friends:
On behalf of the Senior Class, I bid you welcome. It is with genuine pleasure that we greet you tonight-- at this our last appearance as a Senior class of Washington High School.
As we gaze into the past of our great country, we see evidences of our heritage which are all summed up in one word, "Freedom". Why was America founded? Why did emigrants leave their country and come to a distant world so far from their own homes? The answer to both of these questions is that our ancestors wanted freedom, and they were willing to tear themselves away from their homes and to come to a new world where they could begin life anew.
When the "Pilgrims" settled in the new world and formed the English colonies, they were able in some respects to enjoy freedom, but still they did not have freedom from the king of England and did not have their own independence.
Upon realizing this need in 1776, they drew up the Declaration of Independence, which gave our country its freedom from England. American citizens will always be guided by this excerpt from it, "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of happiness." this document was not a promise made by Americans to some dictator, but a promise made by Americans to Americans.
As the years sped rapidly by, it seemed as if the nation would be divided into two separate governments, and the War Between the States resulted; Lincoln and other great Americans of that time helped in preserving the union and in maintaining freedom and democracy. Lincoln, in his memorial address at Gettysburg, said, "The Government of the people, by the people, and for the people shall not perish from the earth."
Such are the beliefs of the country that Americans have made. here, Americans lived, enjoying peace and liberty, and especially the four freedoms-- namely, freedom of worship, freedom of speech, freedom from want, and freedom from fear. Each one went to a church of his own choice since he had freedom of worship; each one spoke of political affairs since he had freedom of speech; each one sat down at his table filled with nourishing foods since he had freedom from want; and each one could place his children in bed and listen to airplanes buzzing in the sky since he had freedom from fear. They were so happy living in this vast land of opportunity, knowing that they were American citizens.
Suddenly, in our lifetime, a part of the happiness was snatched from the Americans when Japanese made their treacherous attack on Pearl harbor, December 7,1941. In order to regain that happiness, there was the necessity of going to war. With our freedom and democracy, which really form the foundation of America, threatened and endangered, our boys, as proudly and nobly as our forefathers in colonial times, dedicated their lives to the noble cause of bringing a lasting peace and democracy to this world. How can they fail when they have such a heritage flowing in their very lifeblood? A young American held prisoner by a Japanese is physically confined, yes, but his soul is free and his American spirit soars back across the seas to his homeland where he may live, plan, work, and pray as he chooses; where every person is master of his fate; where life is protected by law; where children laugh and grow up in freedom, to reach for high places in government and industry according to their merit. The real prisoner is the Japanese, for he has never known individual freedom; he has to serve a master blindly, never having known the glorious privilege of living under laws that he, himself, has had a part in making.
This is the world that we and all other graduates of 1943 must enter. We realize our duty and the part we must play in winning the war, and in restoring freedom to our own country and to the countries now under the domination of our enemies. We know that it is a big task, but we will not quail before it. With the inspiration of the heritage of all true Americans, who give us courage from our own achievements, and who deepen our resolve to preserve our glorious tradition, with your kind guidance, parents and friends, and with the help of God, we will endeavor to accomplish it.__________________________Sammie Hinton ; May 24, 1943
A Mother's Love
My Mother will always be the smartest person I have ever known. I believe it is a tragedy that times did not permit her the opportunity for college education. With her brilliant mind, I can only imagine where an advanced degree would have taken her in life ...
Yet, as Mom told me, time and time again, "Mareer, I would not have had each and every one of you children!" And, she meant that with absolutely no regrets. It was as if she earned our college degrees along with us... the consummate, supportive Mother to each of us... in our own unique manner of needing her.
This song: "Our Town", sung by Iris DeMent and EmmyLou Harris is pretty new and Mom never heard it. However, it is as if she is singing it to me whenever I hear it... and, yes, it makes me cry. Mom gave up so much for her family.
From your high school words of wisdom to the words you left us in your journals, may your legacy forever live on, Mom. I will always love you, Maria
© Maria Jordan (revised July, 2014)
Iris DeMent & EmmyLou Harris: Our Town
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