Snippets of history from John de la Howe come across my desk every now and then. Each of them is poignant because I always am transported back in time to think about life on campus for those who were here.
This one, taken from the “Monthly Bulletin of the De La Howe State School” in March 1931, was written by the Rev. J.B. Branch, who consistently worked to bring the important work of John de la Howe to audiences throughout the state.
Perhaps because the topic of this article coincides with the current holiday season that we are in, I found it particularly touching.
Reverend Branch was reaching out to the American Legion and Legion Auxiliary to show how De La Howe was helping the children of America’s veterans. He wrote:
“This little lad went to Columbia about Christmas time to the funeral of his father, who had served his country in the World War. The father was gassed and never got over it. The dear little fellow saw his Daddy’s body lowered in the ground and will never know the love that Daddy had for him. America is safe because just such as he and you sacrificed and fought and won. Just after Christmas, another little boy was called from the School to Charleston, where his Daddy’s body was laid away, and he too had been gassed in France.”
For our alumni, the reasons for the existence of De La Howe are clear. For others, it takes a “snippet of history” such as this one to remind us of the enduring legacy of the historic John de la Howe campus. My own grandfather was gassed in World War I but — unlike the fathers mentioned in Reverend Branch’s writings — lived on to marry and see his own sons serve in World War II and become successful in their careers. My Dad and his brother knew the love of their parents. However, my grandfather did die from esophageal cancer, attributed in large part to his being gassed in World War I.
This article was written by Reverend Branch just four months before he died. Yet, his writing has transcended 88 years to take us back in time to December 1930 when two little boys lived here because of the horrors of World War I.