Looking Back: Work that mattered

Today in 1921, Carmen Romero Phillips was born. She fulfilled her dream of becoming a nurse, but war gave her work more significance than she ever imagined.

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Today in 1921, Carmen Romero Phillips was born. She fulfilled her dream of becoming a nurse, but war gave her work more significance than she ever imagined.

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LOOKING BACK
A special series

During my time as a contributing editor to the magnificent Voces Oral History Project at the University of Texas at Austin, I came across some amazing stories. The project, which I celebrated in 2011, collects the stories of Latino veterans and civilians who saw and felt the effects of war, from World War II to Vietnam. This occasional series highlights a few of these fascinating lives.

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Carmen Romero Phillips, born on Jan. 19, 1921, was recruited as a military nurse even before she graduated from nursing school in 1943, and she was so good that her boss, an Air Force surgeon at her posting in California, requested her by name.

She served through 1945, caring mostly for wounded troops from the Pacific Theater. She also joined the Red Cross. In 1946, she moved to Corpus Christi to start a new nursing job, met her future husband, and settled in the Texas coastal city, eventually marrying and raising four children.

She never lost her determination to help wherever she could. On Sept. 11, 2001, when she was 83, she called the local Red Cross chapter and volunteered to help one more time.

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Visit the Voces website. Like them on Facebook. Follow them on Twitter.

Looking Back: Proud to serve

Today in 1913, Joseph Ramirez was born. He faced down discrimination, became an engineer, fought in World War II, and took pride in his defense of his adopted county.

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Today in 1913, Joseph Ramirez was born. He faced down discrimination, became an engineer, fought in World War II, and took pride in his defense of his adopted county.

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LOOKING BACK
A special series

During my time as a contributing editor to the magnificent Voces Oral History Project at the University of Texas at Austin, I came across some amazing stories. The project, which I celebrated in 2011, collects the stories of Latino veterans and civilians who saw and felt the effects of war, from World War II to Vietnam. This occasional series highlights a few of these fascinating lives.

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Joseph P. Ramirez, born on Jan. 12, 1913, built a fulfilling life despite the discrimination he faced from landlords, school officials, and potential employers. He worked his way through school to earn an engineering degree.

He joined the Army in 1942 and was part of a headquarters unit that landed in the Philippines shortly before Douglas MacArthur made his triumphant return.

Ramirez persevered after the war. He married and settled in Chicago, always proud of how he and other Mexicans fought for their adopted homeland in World War II.

Visit the Voces website. Like them on Facebook. Follow them on Twitter.

Looking Back: Virtue of the war

Today in 1922, Simon Duarte Botello was born in Central Texas. Botello and his four brothers fought in World War II, and their younger brother immortalized their experiences in a small book.

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Today in 1922, Simon Duarte Botello was born in Central Texas. Botello and his four brothers fought in World War II, and their younger brother immortalized their experiences in a small book.

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LOOKING BACK
A special series

During my time as a contributing editor to the magnificent Voces Oral History Project at the University of Texas at Austin, I came across some amazing stories. The project, which I celebrated in 2011, collects the stories of Latino veterans and civilians who saw and felt the effects of war, from World War II to Vietnam. This occasional series highlights a few of these fascinating lives.

Simon Duarte Botello, born on Jan. 5, 1922, and his four brothers helped their father on their family farm in Central Texas. When World War II began, the boys enlisted, leaving behind their parents and eight younger siblings. The family gave up farming when the boys — the farm’s labor force — departed for war.

Three brothers were wounded. All five brothers returned home once the war ended in 1945. A younger sibling, Thomas, immortalized most of their experiences and memories in a small book, based on interviews and wartime letters.

The war’s greatest legacy on the homefront, Thomas concluded, was that it led to educational opportunities for millions of children, including many of the younger Botello siblings.

Visit the Voces website. Like them on Facebook. Follow them on Twitter.

Kate Stone’s Civil War: The entire special series

Read Kate Stone’s amazing stories as she defiantly faces Union soldiers, escapes across a Louisiana swamp, falls in love with Texas, and watches the Civil War rip her country and her family apart.

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From May 2012 to November 2015, a special series from Stillness of Heart shared excerpts from the extraordinary diary of Kate Stone, who chronicled her Louisiana family’s turbulent experiences throughout the Civil War era.

She defiantly faced Union soldiers, escaped across a Louisiana swamp, fell in love with Texas, and watched the Civil War rip her country and her family apart.

The entire series of excerpts is collected here.

Learn more about Stone’s amazing life in 1861, 1862, 1863, 1864, 1865 and beyond. Click on each year to read more about her experiences. You can read the entire journal online here.

(Photo edited by Bob Rowen)

From 1861
May 15: Death in defense of the South
June 5: The stir and mob of angry life
June 18: Whipped unmercifully
July 1: They thought me so ugly
July 4: The blood of her children
July 26: Gallantly fought and won
Aug 24: The fevers
Sept. 27: The war inches closer
Oct. 19: Gladden our hearts
Nov. 27: The noble, gentle heart
Dec. 22: Rainy days

From 1862
Jan. 6: Sad Christmas
Jan. 8: Happy birthday
Jan. 16: They close in and kill
Feb. 1: The little creature
Feb. 20: Victory will be ours
March 1: A perfect love of a lieutenant
May 9: Burn our cities
May 22: Fashion is an obsolete word
May 23: The sleep that knows no waking
June 6: Trembling hearts
June 20-30: Capable of any horror
July 5: The fire of battle
Aug. 5: Beyond my strength
Sept. 23: Tragedy after tragedy
Oct. 1: His sins against the South
Nov. 7: A lady’s favors
Dec. 3: She was heartbroken

From 1863
Jan. 1: Preparing to run
March 2: Hoodoo woman
March 11: It made us tremble
March 22: The pistol pointed at my head
April 10: Tears on my cheek
April 15: A horrid flight
April 21: The greatest villian
April 26: Flaming cheeks and flashing eyes
April 27: The glory of the family
May 2: His father’s sins
May 3: Baffled beasts of prey
May 22: Useless to resist
May 23: Southern hearts
June 3: Like mad demons
June 15: On the road for Texas
July 7: The dark corner
July 12: The dirtiest people
July 16: Scowling, revengeful faces
July 26: Despondent and chicken-hearted
July 29: Makes us tremble for Texas
Aug. 3: Lose our scalps
Aug. 10: Conquer or die
Aug. 16: My pen is powerless
Aug. 30: They call us all renegades
Sept. 1: It makes us shiver
Sept. 14: Years of grinding toil
Sept. 20: Destroyed by the Yankees
Oct. 2: Two distressed damsels
Oct. 8: This is too disgraceful
Oct. 29: The heart of a boy
Nov. 1: Credulous mortals
Nov. 7: A fear of bad news
Nov. 13: Pride must have a fall
Nov. 15: So little to eat
Dec. 10: Nobly and fearlessly
Dec. 12: Alone in a strange land
Dec. 19: A charming little woman
Dec. 24: A sad 1863 ends

From 1864
Jan. 4: A noted flirt
Jan. 7: Trouble and distress
Jan. 13: The first desideratum
March 8: The mournful whistle
March 20: The petted darling
April 15: A besom of destruction
May 5: The easy conquest of Texas
May 7: To every young lady
May 18: To kill and destroy
May 25: Our best fancy yellow organdies
May 29: That land of desolation
June 1: The breath of flowers
June 14: Strangers in a strange land
June 19: Those terrible battles
June 26: Callous to suffering and death
Aug. 23: We enjoy our ease
Sept. 2: Lazy and languid
Sept. 5: One grand holocaust
Sept. 10: Too disgraceful if true
Sept. 27: The flower-wreathed scepter
Oct. 15: Fairy castles in the air

From 1865
Jan. 29: Kindly bestow them
Feb. 1: Our soldiers were powerless
Feb. 12: One of life’s greatest trials
Feb. 13: Peace blessed peace
Feb. 15: My escorts were disgusted
Feb. 21: Our only hope for peace
March 3: The most enjoyable life
March 9: Full of life and fun
March 24: Eager for a fight
March 30: Its spring decoration
April 1: Out of time
April 7: A blow on my heart
April 16: He would do anything
April 23: God spare us
May 7: Lounged and gossiped
May 9: We fear it cannot last
May 15: We will be slaves
May 17: Restless and wretched
May 20: A fever of apprehension
May 21: A piece of amusement
May 27: Only sadness and tears
May 31: The grand crash
June 12: Words are powerless
June 25: Civilization commences again
July 2: He deserves killing
July 13: It is unavoidable
July 18: A man-flirt is detestable
Aug. 14: No disorder
Aug. 26: Astonish the natives
Sept. 3: Our pleasant Tyler life
Sept. 11: The very poorest people
Sept. 21: A state of insubordination
Oct. 10: The bitterness of defeat
Nov. 16: At home again
Nov. 17: How many idle hours

Epilogue, from 1867 and 1868
I was young again

Looking Back: It has to be done

Today in 1910, Johnnie W. Flores was born near Somerset, Texas, southeast of San Antonio. In 1941, Flores joined the Army, and, as part of the 36th Infantry Regiment in the European Theater, he saw and paid the war’s ultimate price.

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Today in 1910, Johnnie W. Flores was born near Somerset, Texas, southeast of San Antonio. In 1941, Flores joined the Army, and, as part of the 36th Infantry Regiment in the European Theater, he saw and paid the war’s ultimate price.

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LOOKING BACK
A special series

During my time as a contributing editor to the magnificent Voces Oral History Project at the University of Texas at Austin, I came across some amazing stories. The project, which I celebrated in 2011, collects the stories of Latino veterans and civilians who saw and felt the effects of war, from World War II to Vietnam. This occasional series will highlight a few of these fascinating lives.

Johnnie W. Flores, born on Feb. 10, 1910, was one of seven children living with their parents on a farm near Somerset, Texas. In his mid-twenties, Flores moved to California. He joined the Army in 1941.

His letters home encapsulated the evolution of the man’s character. The soldier faced down the horrific realities of war with practicality. He bought life insurance, and he sent half of his paycheck back to his mother. His letters also captured his romantic entanglements with young women in the U.S.

World War II brought him and his 36th Infantry Regiment to Europe, where he saw in late 1944 how war destroyed French communities and the “very green and beautiful” landscape. His letters captured his horror and his determined justification for such destruction.

By the end of the year, his family received news of the unthinkable. Read about what they learned and how they reacted, and the rest of wonderful profile here.

Visit the Voces website. Like them on Facebook. Follow them on Twitter.

2014 in review

Thank you for making 2014 the best year ever. Read the year-end WordPress graphical roundup.

Thank you so much for making 2014 Stillness of Heart‘s best year ever.

Here's an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 12,000 times in 2014. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 4 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

Looking Back: Her honorable adventure

When the U.S. entered World War II, Bertha Flores faced down family tradition to serve in the Navy. It was an adventure she would never forget and an experience she would never regret.

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Today in 1921, Guadalupe Berta Rodriguez Flores was born in San Antonio, Texas. When the U.S. entered World War II, Flores faced down family tradition to serve in the Navy. It was an adventure she would never forget and an experience she would never regret.

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LOOKING BACK
A special series

During my time as a contributing editor to the magnificent Voces Oral History Project at the University of Texas at Austin, I came across some amazing stories. The project, which I celebrated in 2011, collects the stories of Latino veterans and civilians who saw and felt the effects of war, from World War II to Vietnam. This occasional series will highlight a few of these fascinating lives.

Bertha Flores, born on March 16, 1921, was raised in a quiet San Antonio family. Her father believed women belonged at home and no where else. The U.S. entered World War II in 1941, and he was not happy when his daughter joined the Navy’s Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service, or WAVES in 1943.

Her first big adventure came simply on the cross-country train trip from San Antonio to basic training in New York City. Flores marveled at every city and town she passed. She loved the hustle and bustle of the Big Apple and the variety of women she encountered as she prepared herself for wartime military service. Flores was one of only a handful of Latinas in her class. She made friends, danced, and trained to become a teletype operator.

She served at Naval Air Station Corpus Christi, and she never forgot what the experience taught her. Read her wonderful profile here.

Visit the Voces website. Like them on Facebook. Follow them on Twitter.

Looking Back: Shadows of war

Today in 1925, Andrew Aguirre was born in Vinton, Texas. The Marine served during World War II and the Korean War, facing challenges he never imagined.

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Today in 1925, Andrew Aguirre was born in Vinton, Texas. The Marine served during World War II and the Korean War, facing challenges he never imagined.

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The Looking Back series
During my time as a contributing editor to the magnificent Voces Oral History Project at the University of Texas at Austin, I came across some amazing stories. The project, which I celebrated in 2011, collects the stories of Latino veterans and civilians who saw and felt the effects of war, from World War II to Vietnam. This occasional series will highlight a few of these fascinating lives.

Andrew Aguirre, born on Jan. 4, 1925, joined the Marine Corps in 1944, delivered supplies to Marine units on Pacific islands, and helped move out the dead. He joined U.S. forces in China in November 1945, and was discharged in 1946.

Military life, he recalled, gave him a new lease on life and professional ambition.

But by 1950, he was back in uniform, this time in Korea. As he faced down battle-hardened North Korean soldiers, Aguirre had no idea what he was about to experience. Read his dramatic profile here.

Visit the Voces website. Like them on Facebook. Follow them on Twitter.