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Stonewall Jackson’s literacy school

The Wreckers are bent on removing the statues of Stonewall Jackson along with those of General Lee. Old Jack is a poor target. A few years ago, I signed up for a battlefield tour at Gettysburg. The night before the tour started, we heard a lecture by a military historian. Our speaker was Dr. Richard J. Sommers, a professor of strategy at the Army War College in Carlisle, Pa. I was fortunate to sit next to Professor Sommers and admire his magnificent white beard. Professor Sommers was born and raised in Chicago and went to college in Minnesota, but he earned his Ph.D. from Rice. He studied with Frank Vandiver,…

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A belated memory of Kent Demaret

Kent Demaret, aged 72, the retired Houston correspondent for Life and People magazines, died in Houston on March 16, 2007. The old Houston Press — Houston’s third daily newspaper until 1964 — hired me as a cub reporter in the spring of 1962 and assigned me to the police beat. The city editor was Jack Mohler (who became city editor of The Chronicle in 1964 after The Press folded). But my real boss was Kent Demaret, the assistant city editor. The Press published from a two-story building, now demolished, south of downtown Houston at Rusk and Chartres. The building sat across U. S. 59 from what is now the George…

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Armistice Day 2018

This blog went dark for most of 2018, but the centennial of Armistice Day deserves a remembrance. Two Pannill brothers died in the final months of World War I. Pfc. George Edmond Pannill, born in 1896 at “Claremont” in Martinsville, Virginia, was killed in action near Soissons about 10 a.m. on July 18, 1918. He lived about two minutes. That same day, his brother, Pfc. Jeb Stuart Pannill, born in 1897, fighting in the same unit and battle, suffered a wound through the chest. His parents must have named him after our great cousin. Stuart wrote home that his brother had been slightly wounded. He said he “hoped to be…

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Mary Lynn Pannill, my beautiful sister

My wonderful sister, Lynn Pannill, was born 70 years ago on July 13, 1948. There are many untimely deaths, and she suffered hers in 2002, leaving her two brothers bereft. It is only now that I am able to write about her. Lynn, like the rest of us, was a late bloomer. She grew up in Midland and its excellent public schools (there was an oil boom in the 1950s much like today’s, which brought thousands to the city). She finished high school in 1966. Then she went off to Southern Methodist University. After a couple of years, she dropped out. Then she made her way to Austin and the…

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Ike’s opinion of General Lee

  The controversy about statues of Robert E. Lee continues to burn. Several Texas cities wish to follow New Orleans in removing statues of General Lee. The current uproar has been in Dallas. The New Orleans Uptown Messenger of May 15, 2017, published a column by Owen Courrèges that dug up statements by postwar Presidents in praise of General Lee: President Roosevelt had the following to say about the unveiling in 1936 of the statue of General Lee statue in Dallas: “I am very happy to take part in this unveiling of the statue of General Robert E. Lee. “But, also, all over the United States I believe that we recognize…

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