Last Friday I attended a ceremony to dedicate a statue of Bea Marin, a former member of Tarleton’s nursing faculty who made major contributions to its program before she passed away in 2008. The ceremony itself was wondrous, complete with an Air Force color guard and powerful tributes, offered by Tarleton leaders and members of Bea’s family, to Bea’s life of service to others. Bea’s statue is, quite appropriately, outside and near the entrance to Tarleton’s Nursing Building.
I knew Bea as a friend and mentor on the Stephenville City Council when I first joined it in 2000. During our time together I always followed her lead, and never cast a vote I later regretted.
But Bea Marin was so much more: Registered nurse, Air Force colonel, Vietnam veteran, civic activist, businesswoman, benefactress to a large extended family, etc., etc., etc. If I’m most grateful to her for her guidance during my early years on the city council, I’m most fascinated with her trips to Hanoi to bring back American prisoners of war. She was a heroine in every sense of the word. Little wonder that Tarleton’s leaders concluded, quite rightly, that she should join a small but growing pantheon of Tarleton-associated leaders, including Earl Rudder and John Tarleton himself, memorialized in bronze.
It’s especially nice—and reassuring—to think of Bea Marin today, as we descend once again into the whirlpool of promises, half-truths, slanders, and recriminations known as our current presidential campaign, to conclude 18 months from now, only to be followed immediately by the onset of the 2024 presidential campaign. As a political junkie, I rather like our continuous campaign season—it’s a source of endless fascination, providing much to read, think, and write about. Yet it must be admitted that too often the web pages, the newspapers, and the airwaves will be filled by the efforts of men and women willing to say anything, take any position, make any accusation, and be anything to anyone in their quest for the presidency or whatever other office they may be seeking. Such people and their blatherings can get tiresome, even to folks like me.
But of the many lessons we can infer from Bea Marin’s life, two particularly stand out. First, no matter how much we obsess over our politicians—or athletes or entertainers—there are every day heroes among us, as Bea Marin once was among us. Some, like Bea, are veterans who’ve done their duty; and may now be at rest. I’ve personally met men who parachuted into Normandy on D-Day, survived the Indianapolis sinking, and fought in every war this century. And of course, there are our state and local public servants—men and women currently in law enforcement, firefighting, emergency medical services, public works maintenance, and a variety of other jobs with government agencies or private charities, and those who are now retired—who have made or are making our lives better, sometimes at great risk to their own. And let’s not forget the excellent work The Flash and the Stephenville Empire-Tribune do in reporting on the work of other civic activists, entrepreneurs, and members of our community in working to improve the lives of all.
And, second, whatever other issues we have to worry about at the federal, state, or local level, we don’t really need to worry about who’s going to make, or keep, America great. A nation that can produce Bea Marin and her fellow heroes is, by definition, already great, and by following their example, We, the People, can keep America great as well.
Malcolm L. Cross has lived in Stephenville and taught politics and government at Tarleton since 1987. His political and civic activities include service on the Stephenville City Council (2000-2014) and on the Erath County Republican Executive Committee (1990 to the present). He was Mayor Pro Tem of Stephenville from 2008 to 2014. He is a member of St. Luke’s Episcopal Church and the Stephenville Rotary Club, and does volunteer work for the Boy Scouts of America. Views expressed in this column are his and do not reflect those of The Flash as a whole.