Shining in Remembrance
Our cover story for this issue of Wheaton centers around what was on the front page of the February 16, 1943, Wheaton Record—a picture of 17 out of a total of 23 Wheaton students who went off to war together. Reading their World War II memories, compiled in 2001 by Bob Baptista ’44, has drawn me into the lives of this cohort of 23 men who were still in, or barely out of, their teens when they relinquished their deferments to report for duty. These 23 would not be wending their way to class through Blanchard’s halls. Instead their paths would take them around the world, on a journey whose end was known only to God.
Recently I took a walk through Wheaton’s Todd M. Beamer Student Center, dedicated to three Wheaton alumni killed on September 11, 2001 (see pages 58-59): Jeffrey Mladenik M.A. ’95, Jason Oswald ’95, and Todd Beamer ’91—all victims in yet another war.
The Beamer Center was filled, as usual, with students full of energy and activity. I watch them. They are not unlike those 23 students of seven decades past—young men and women for whom time is unfolding.
In the Stupe a couple enjoys lattes while texting on their iPhones.(Might they be texting each other?) But I imagine sweethearts Martha Cole ’45 and Bob Baptista ’44 as being there, having chocolate ice cream and an obviously good time.
In Anderson Commons five Thunder football players sit together at a large round table, their lunch plates piled high with calories that would disappear during afternoon practice. But I see instead the Crusader’s star player, “Fritz” Lange ’45, with teammates Art Anderson ’45, Bob Whitaker ’48, Bob Ferguson ’44, and Jim Buswell ’48. In a little more than a year, Fritz would not stand in a huddle on the football field, but instead hunker down in a foxhole, manning a machine gun. He would die there in fierce battle.
I peer through the glass panel next to the door of The Record office. The student journalists use Mac computers and a Ricoh printer. But there I find Editor-in-Chief Homer Dowdy ’47 pounding out his last editorial on a typewriter. Homer writes for us all to read:
We are coming back some day not too far distant, and we want to find the same Wheaton which we left. . . . We want to come back knowing that Wheaton serves the same Christ which she has served since her founding. We want a college where we can receive the best Christian training in America. . . . By your utmost diligence and unstrained relations with God you shall accomplish [our desires].
For Christ and His Kingdom, do not let us hope in vain.
Homer and 19 of this cohort of 23 returned to campus and graduated.
Georgia I. Douglass '70, M.A. '94
To view the magazine, please visit Wheaton Magazine Winter 2012 >>