Nov. 6, 2009
Bill Little, Texas Media Relations
It is polished now, this simple plaque which stands sentinel at the entrance to Joe Jamail Field, there at the north end of Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium.
Two hours before the games, the Longhorns walk by it. The Longhorn band will pass inspection as it marches into the arena, now filled with over 100,000 people.
On the tablet are the names of Texas lettermen who died in World War I. The original plaque was installed on the wall of the old entrance when the North End was built in 1926 as an addition to the Texas Memorial Stadium -- built and dedicated to the memory of Texans who died fighting in World War I. "The Great War" they had called it. "The War to End All Wars."
Three UT football players were killed in combat in France.
Louis Jordan was so popular that his hometown of Fredericksburg erected a flagpole in his memory. Pete Edmond might have been the greatest athlete of his time, and General Pershing himself honored him with recommendation of a Silver Star after he died charging a German machine gun position.
On July 28, 1918, American troops were engaged in one of their bloodiest battles of the War -- the Battle of the Second Marne. In the heavy fighting of this critical battle of the Western Front just 75 miles northeast of Paris, 30,000 Americans were killed or wounded.
One of the dead, killed by an artillery shell near Villers Sur Fere in the Aisne-Marne offensive, was Lt. Bothwell Bierce Kane, who was a starting tackle as a freshman on the Longhorns football team of 1912.
And in 1920, Mrs. John D. Kane of Fort Worth, Texas, gave money to create a scholarship at The University of Texas in her son's name. The scholarship, under the management of the Texas Exes of today, has been awarded ever since.
As the Longhorns walk into Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium Saturday to play Central Florida, a part of Bothwell Kane will be there. The years have dimmed the facts; truth is the story of Bothwell Kane presents more questions than it does answers.
He was described as a promising freshman tackle as he started opposite the legendary K. L. Berry, who would become a war hero in both World War I and World War II. But he apparently never played football again, and other than the fact that he graduated in 1916, there is little record of him.
But we know of Bothwell Kane because Mrs. John D. Kane of Fort Worth, Texas, gave a scholarship in his name.
Heroes and legends come in many forms, and as The University of Texas Stadium Veterans Committee gathers on Saturday to observe, for the 85th time, the dedication of the stadium to those veterans who have served The United States in all foreign conflicts, you can find a bushel full of those who should be honored.
On November 11, next Wednesday, committee chairman Frank Denius will preside over the placing of a statue of a World War I soldier on the plaza above the northwest corner of the stadium.
It is appropriate that Admiral James G. Stavridis, who is the Supreme Allied Commander in Europe and the Commander of the United States European Command will serve as an honorary captain for the game tomorrow, joining with current Longhorns football players, who have dedicated their game to a family member or friend who has served in the military. Mack Brown's trip last summer to visit hospitals in Germany and troops in the Middle East is his latest visible commitment to those who serve so that kids can play a game.
Somewhere in France, they say that the ghosts still march; gaunt and proud; bloody, but unbowed. And among the fields of white markers that dot the landscape, there is a cross for Bothwell Kane.
And that would be all we know about him, except that Mrs. Kane wanted him to be remembered, and she obviously wanted to establish a living tribute to him.
Because, you see, the Bothwell Kane Scholarship, has been given for 90 years to a man or woman who intends to pursue a "Christian vocation, such as the ministry." And she wanted it to go to someone who possessed the unselfishness and sacrifice that characterized Bothwell Bierce Kane, and which was recognized by his friends, his family, and his classmates."
So who was Bothwell Kane?
He was like all those who have served, whose life made a difference for people then, and now.
It is like the story of the stone, and the pond -- where a stone is cast into a placid pond, and the ripples from the splash extend farther and farther, until they touch every piece of the shoreline. It isn't only that these whom we honor stood in harm's way to keep us free, and it is not what they did in life -- it is about those whom their lives have touched.
I asked the current holder of the Bothwell Kane Scholarship what she planned to do with it, and this is what she said:
"I am a psychology major and this is my senior year. I graduate in May 2010 and next fall, I plan to attend Asbury Theological Seminary in Kentucky. My goal is to prepare myself both spiritually and theologically to be able to serve the congregation to which God leads me to by designing counseling services that will inspire every believer to continue to press onward in their daily transforming walk with Christ. This scholarship has increased my testimony of tithing, of prayer, and of faith. I am a strong believer in that those of us who are Hispanics and have had the privilege of going to college and receiving a solid education in this country should look for ways in which we can pour back into our community. I look forward to spreading the word about the Bothwell Kane Scholarship in whatever ministry God calls me to. I would use this as a tool of encouragement for young people to pursue higher education and not pass up the opportunity due to its high costs."
The popular local singing group "The Kyle Sisters" could never have known Mrs. Kane of Fort Worth, Texas, and their song was likely written about a memorial to another war. But somehow it tells the story of our lost Longhorn who gave his life fighting in France.
"All I have are the memories," goes the song. "And the moments to recall."
And then the words that speak to us all, about all of those who fight wars in the hope that one day we will achieve great peace:
"So Lord could you tell him…he's more than a name on a wall?"