Loading...
BMH. I found a Frosted Flake in my cereal this morning that looked like Harry Smith....

A plaque for George H.W. Bush in Chapel Hill?

9780812979473.jpg
1 of 3
-1.jpg
DGMartin.jpg
Loading…

Sunday, December 9, 2018

“There should be an historic plaque in Chapel Hill honoring George Bush.”

On the day after the former president’s death, Chapel Hill lawyer and chair of the town’s historic district commission, Bob Epting, was making opening remarks at a public seminar on preserving historic spaces.

“I didn’t vote for him,” Epting said. “But I admired and loved him.”

Epting explained that during World War II, Bush and about 15,000 other prospective U.S. Navy pilots were part of a pre-flight training program at Chapel Hill. “It is a shame that there is no marker here for Bush and the others.”

In Jon Meacham’s 2015 best seller, “Destiny and Power: The American Odyssey of George Herbert Walker Bush,” the president’s time in Chapel Hill plays a short but very important role in his life.

When Bush turned 18 in 1942, he enlisted in the Navy and was sent to Chapel Hill for pre-flight training, which was according to Meacham, “a very shaping experience, a memorable experience.”

Perhaps even more important for Bush was the daylong visit to Chapel Hill of 17-year-old Barbara Pierce. Bush wrote his mother, “She looked too cute for words—really beautiful.”

Meacham writes, “They had a sandwich together and walked the campus, winding up at the university’s Kenan Memorial Stadium in a grove of pine trees about a mile away from the inn. A sudden storm drove them into the canvas-covered press box. ‘We laughed at everything,’ Bush wrote, grateful for the stolen hours.”

During that short visit their romance bloomed, leading to their marriage in January 1945.

Without the tough Chapel Hill training that prepared him for wartime service and without the tough Barbara Bush by his side, the “kinder and gentler” Bush might have spent his life in business in New York or New England like many of his Yale classmates.

With the closing of the Chapel Hill airport earlier this year an important physical reminder of Bush’s connection has been lost.

There are few other reminders of the pre-flight program and its contribution to the war effort, to the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and to the town.

One fresh reminder is a new book by Anne Keene whose grandfather directed the program. Keene’s book focuses on the program’s connection to another set of American heroes.

“The Cloudbuster Nine: The Untold Story of Ted Williams and the Baseball Team that Helped Win WWII,” focuses on a group of major league baseball players like Williams, who trained in Chapel Hill and went on to fly combat aircraft during the war. They were heroes in the sky and on the baseball field.

While they were in Chapel Hill, Williams and other major league players such as Johnny Pesky and Johnny Sain were among a cadre of fighter-pilot cadets who played for a Navy team called the Cloudbuster Nine.

Keene asserts that the Cloudbuster Nine team was better than the New York Yankees and St. Louis Cardinals, the teams that faced each other in the 1943 World Series.

Bush and Williams were not the only famous names in the pre-flight training. Gerald Ford, John Glenn and Paul “Bear” Bryant took the training too.

That training was rigorous in the classroom, on the athletic fields, and in other tough physical and mental exercises. The curriculum was designed to get the future pilots in shape for combat and the challenges of survival should they be shot down in enemy territory.

Because the hard and effective training contributed significantly to the ultimate victory, it is fair to say that the war was won, at least in part, in Chapel Hill, and certainly should be commemorated.

A plaque like the one suggested by Bob Epting, could honor and remember not only Bush, but also Ford, Williams and the thousands of other pre-flight cadets.

D.G. Martin is a a retired lawyer, politician and university administrator and is host of UNC-TV’s “North Carolina Bookwatch,” which airs 11 a.m. Sundays and 5 p.m. Tuesdays on UNC-TV and 8 p.m. Tuesdays on the North Carolina Channel.

Loading…

Humans of Greenville

@HumansofGville

Local photographer Joe Pellegrino explores Greenville to create a photographic census of its people.

Look

March 17, 2019

Seven months ago, I wrote a column about discovering a serious vitamin deficiency that was at least one apparent cause of significant changes in my mood and behavior.

When I wrote it, I had just been sent home after three awful weeks in the hospital, and I figured the worst was behind me.…

Bob Garner

March 17, 2019

Perspectives on one of most controversial and hotly-debated topics in the worlds of humanities and technology came together in a lively discussion last week that capped off a three-day religious studies conference at ECU.

More than 100 East Carolina students, staff, observers and religious scholars…

Ron Cole-Turner

March 17, 2019

"Did tonight's meal kit get delivered yet?"

I'm trying to recall how many times I heard my mother say those words.

Oh, yeah, never. It's hard to believe that there was a time not so long ago when you had to go to a restaurant or to a friend's house to eat something you didn't make yourself in your…

JimMullen

March 17, 2019

If the names Jamie and Claire — and the endearment Sassenach — make your heart flutter, you dinna wanna miss several upcoming events in New Bern and Burlington. 

Diana Gabaldon, bestselling author of the popular “Outlander” book series, will visit two N.C.…

Diana Gabaldon.jpeg

March 17, 2019

Amos Graves Cox, a native of Pitt County, was the founder of Winterville. He was a wealthy farmer, manufacturer, banker, and merchant. Winterville’s A.G. Cox Middle School was named for him.

A.G. Cox’s father served as a soldier during the Civil War in Company G, Eighth Regiment of the…

cox_plow_advertisement.jpg

March 17, 2019

Emerge Gallery is hosting a “Sip, Savor, & Create” workshop entitled “Shibori” from 6:30-8:30 p.m. on Friday..

Shibori is the Japanese word for a variety of ways of embellishing textiles by shaping cloth and securing it before dyeing. The word comes from the verb root…

SipSavor

March 17, 2019

One of the great joys of having siblings is living with the knowledge that they will never forget anything you ever have said.

Wait did I say, one of the great joys? I meant one of my biggest worries.

Sometimes it is actually quite fun to recall famous family quotes. My sister Nancy and I spent…

avocado_1050x700.jpg

March 16, 2019

Beautiful things are sometimes nothing but bad news. That’s true for this week’s Mystery Plant.

What an early spring spectacle it is in full bloom! Covered with snow-white blossoms, each flower about an inch across, it blooms well before the leaves have unfolded. Like lots of things in…

031619mysteryplant.jpg

March 15, 2019

It is pretty true to form for the ECU School of Music to have students perform in two operas in one academic year. But this spring, there is a bit of a dramatic twist.

Two operas. One week. One cast. Two locations.

One is old. One is new. But both share the theme: What is true?

“Tell It Slant,…

031519operas-3.jpg

March 15, 2019

Tone-Loc, the hip hop legend from the 1990s, will headline this year’s main concert at PirateFest along with 90s star Biz Markie, Uptown Greenville announced on Thursday.

Loc and Markie will throw back to the last century at the Greenville Toyota Amphitheater at Town Common stage from 4-8 p.m.…

111004015418-tone-loc-horizontal-large-gallery.jpg
139 stories in Look. Viewing 1 through 10.
«First Page   «Previous Page        
Page 1 of 14
        Next Page»   Last Page»