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Remembering the fallen: An ACU story

By on May 30, 2016 in Alumni News, Campus News with 0 Comments
WWII service flag

This World War II service flag in Sewell Auditorium honored ACU students, alumni and faculty who served in the military. Gold stars represented those who lost their lives.

World War II remains the deadliest conflict in military history in terms of lives lost in combat. Few American lives were untouched in some way, and the Abilene Christian University community was no exception. The mood of the campus, and its demographics, shifted as male faculty members and students went off to war. Gold stars – representing students, faculty and alumni who lost their lives – began to appear among the blue ones on a service flag displayed in Sewell Auditorium.

Here’s a poignant story about one such student from Like Stars Shining Brightly, the 1953 history book by ACU’s seventh president Dr. Don H. Morris (’24) and Max Leach:

Among the many A.C.C. ex-students to lose their lives during this second world war was Paul Sherrod.

Paul was one of the many A.C.C. students who had their schooling interrupted to answer what they deeply felt to be the imperative call of duty. Because of the emergency of the moment, they were given a minimum of training, and almost before their friends and loved ones realized they were in the service, were in a combat zone.

Paul Sherrod from the 1942 Prickly Pear yearbook

Paul Sherrod from the 1942 Prickly Pear yearbook

And as each new report of the death of one of the “boys” came in, the faculty and students were shocked anew, and grieved again with the surviving loved ones.

Paul was killed on Leyte in December of 1944.

Among the personal effects taken from his body and returned to his family was a clipping from The Optimist that Paul had been carrying with him. It read as follows:

THE PROMISE OF ABILENE CHRISTIAN COLLEGE TO ITS STUDENTS OF THE PAST, OF THE PRESENT, AND OF THE FUTURE

Since the past has gone, and the future is yet to be, this promise is to you, student of the present.

Believing first that the Christian life is the only life to be lived, I will do all that is in my power to help you to live as a Christian.

Believing that the greatest characters that have ever lived are the humble, the serving, the unselfish, I will do my best to inspire you and to educate or mold your life around these qualities. … 

… Believing that not riches, nor power, nor worldly glory, nor fame, nor pride of life constitute success nor contribute to the happy life, I will keep these things foreign to your knowledge and your way of living.

Believing that there is more to be learned than can be taken from books, I will not try to make of you a stuffy intellectual nor a learned snob, but will give you an education that is useful in the living of life among men, and towards spending eternity on the banks of the River of Life.

Believing that you are an individual, having your own hopes and fears, abilities and limitations, talents and defects, I will treat you as such – loving you, cherishing you. You will not be just a number nor a name in my roll book. Believing that your soul is precious in the sight of God, I will help you in every way I can to seek that which will aid your development as a Christian and cause you to be well pleasing to Him.

The article was written by Leach and originally appeared in a news bulletin issued by Abilene Christian while Leach was director of public relations. It was later reprinted in The Optimist. The copy Sherrod carried was returned with his personal effects, framed and displayed in Morris’ office, a memorial of the sacrifice made by so many. 

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