by Grant Teaff
Soldiers of the Wooded Cross: Military Memorials at Baylor University is a treasure that chronicles the lives and legacies of Baylor Alumni whose names appear on the Civil War memorial, World War One memorial and the memorial lampposts around the Baylor University campus.
Frank Jasek the book preservationist for the Baylor University Libraries, while walking across campus observed the memorial lampposts scattered throughout the beautiful Baylor landscape.
The lampposts adorned with brass shield-shaped plaques were to commemorate Baylor’s alumni who died while serving in the armed forces. The information on a plaque: the person’s name, the branch of service, years at Baylor and the year of death.
Frank was struck by the fact that each of those plaques represented a former Baylor student who had dreams and ambitions that were never realized, because they gave their life so that Frank and others would be guaranteed the freedom to be a part of a great university.
Frank’s question to himself had to have been shared by thousands over the years who had looked at the plaques and wondered what Frank wondered. Who did those names belong to? What kind of lives did they live? Who were the loved ones they had left behind?
Unlike others who had wondered, Frank took action, picked up the phone and made his first contact with family members of a name on a plaque. For 10 years, Frank methodically put together life stories, photographs, letters, diary pages and more, including nine oil paintings by Jasek himself. The painting created illustrations to accompany stories with less information or photos. His goal was to open a window into each life, for those who would see the name and wonder about the story. For each plaque, Jasek hunted down the information, contacting family members, descendants, nieces, nephews or anyone who knew the individual.
If you love Baylor University and you appreciated the freedom we have in this great country, you should read this book. To know and to understand that former students who dreamed the big dreams and never fulfilled them, gave the full measure of their life to protect America, their families and the freedom for following generations to pursue their education.