Bend In The Branch

The personal opinions of one among many.

Monday, August 15, 2005


Becky Strange grew up on Lemmon Street, just around the corner from the street named for her father, John Gerald.

As a child, she didn't think it odd that her dad would have a street — everyone knew the city named streets after its native sons killed in World War II.

Today, the people who live or drive on streets like Adams, Wactor or Sam Smith might not realize the significance of those names.

But Sumter High School teacher Sammy Way is out to change that. Through a Hands on History project that took on a life of its own, and with the help of records clerk Pat Wilcox, he's created a reproducible scrapbook with photos and personal information on 41 of the Sumter men who died in World War II.

The project is ongoing — he hopes anyone who notices an omission will contact him with information. Mostly, he said, the project is about retelling history.

"One thing that bothers me is I don't want the history to be lost," he said.

Dorothy Morgan...remembers her older brother Adger Matthews well.

As a young woman, though, she didn't pay attention to the street-naming process. Only when Way began his research did Morgan realize her brother was one of three Sumter High alumni without a street.

Morgan's family endured long months after his plane, a B-17, went down over Germany and he was considered missing in action. Yet during that time, Morgan said, their mother was "miraculous."

"This was a period of time when everybody was so patriotic, when everybody wanted to do their share. She was just so brave," Morgan said.

Thanks to teachers like Sammy Way, many have been made aware of honors bestowed upon the families of the fallen and maybe, just maybe, an important lesson in patriotism is being taught.


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