We knew Dr. Herman Smith from 1957 when he volunteered to teach our Boys Sunday School Class at the Baptist Church. Our classroom was in the newly built educational building, in a corner room where noises of young boys would not disturb. Dr. Smith came into our class a new teacher, but with his easy going manner and genuine personality we as a bunch of 15 to 16 year olds quickly found an adult friend. With a real sincerity, he shared his faith and belief in Jesus Christ, and with prepared lessons each Sunday, he gave us someone to look and live up to . He was faithful then as he is now, teaching young men was a strength of his, and as I read his story of the middle and late War Years, I can see the strong character that he brought to us through those Sunday morning studies.
In reading of his experiences, of interest to me were those times of 1944 when he was put in peril of his life. We knew Dr. Smith as a big man, but the boys in that class did not know how big he was, nor knew he wore EE shoes.
Two years ago I viewed and walked the English Channel’s Bluffs of the Omaha Beaches, saw where the 1st Division landed, and the Omaha Beach Cemetery where some 10,000 Americans are buried underneath white crosses whose rows are so straight they appear supernatural, their rows go on like fields of clover. Never have I seen such a spectacle of hallowed ground. As I continued on that day at Normandy I was awed by the war shattered concrete structures with bomb craters as big as houses still visible.
So I saw a little of what Dr. Smith experienced. I have read of the heroism that it took to start that breakout from the Normandy Coastline, in small groups and large groups such as what the VIII Corps did with his participation in the 28th Infantry Division. Having men with dedication like Dr. Smith to return to young boys, and soon to be young men, was a blessing we carried with us all our lives. .As I read his story of July 2013 in the Chickasaw Journal I recognize what unselfish bravery that those men instilled in themselves.
Our class is now aged men, however, today we would like to issue to Dr. Smith a salute for his willingness to give service in 1944 and to also teach spiritual leadership and character to young boys back in 1957.
The Sunday School Class of 1956-57