Palestine Magazine May 2019 - Page 13

LOCAL AUTHOR T he H ero T he B eauty & S urrounded by antiques, photographs, and memorabilia – all tastefully arranged in his immaculate home – J. Kirk Davis flipped through the binders and photo albums con- taining the Hollywood-style tale that was his parents’ life. “My mother was a stunning beauty,” Davis, 73, told the Herald- Press. “When she met my father, she was being pursued by Para- mount Pictures.” In his book, “The Hero and the Beauty,” Davis reveals the ro- mance, tragedy, rise, and fall of the relationship between his beau- ty-queen mother, and his father, a World War II hero and Medal of Honor winner. The two were, to use a cliché, larger than life. Kirk Davis’ book chronicles his parents’ chance meeting at a haberdashery in San Antonio, and their marriage six months later. Each chapter reads like a movie screenplay. Davis’ parents, however, were not actors playing a role. They were human and, therefore, flawed, Davis said. He hopes telling their story will intimately show his hero-father’s humanity, his love of life, of family, and of God and country. Davis moved to Palestine nearly five years ago with his wife of 46 years, Ruth Ledbetter Davis. Ruth Davis, a former professional singer and musician, was born and raised in Palestine. They have two adult sons. “Writing the book was a sort of therapy,” Kirk Davis said. “I loved them both, but I was also witness to their darkest times; they had a truly violent relationship.” To write the book, Davis, a retired creative design and branding executive, spent more than a decade poring through photographs and correspondence, listening to old recordings, and interviewing people who knew his parents. Davis, an avid photographer and illustrator, finished the book a couple of years ago, after moving to Palestine. A self-published version is available on Amazon, but Davis is looking for a publisher for this amazing story. “They were stationed in Hawaii when Pearl Harbor was at- tacked,” Davis said. “My mother gave birth to my sister in the dark, on the floor of the school, where they were evacuated.” Years later, while serving on the island of Guadalcanal, Davis’ father, Charles Davis, volunteered to carry instructions through 500 yards of enemy machine gun fire to the leading U.S. Army regiments. The following morning, he organized a group of soldiers and took out the machine gun nest, as well as other Japanese positions, that had U.S. soldiers pinned, halting the advance of an entire bat- talion. For his bravery, above and beyond the call of duty, Charles Davis was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor. The accompany- ing citation reads: “His courage and leadership inspired the entire battalion and unquestionably led to the success of the attack.” Two wars and decades later, Davis’ father also won a Bronze Star for his courage under fire in Vietnam. A bonafide national hero during and after World War II, Davis’ father received correspondence from presidents, movie stars, and fellow famous war heroes. Sitting on Davis’ table, beside the Medal of Honor citation signed by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, is a framed news- paper article with a picture of then-Major Davis and Field Marshal Bernard Montgomery, captioned: “From one hero to another – an autograph.” “My parents were catapulted onto the center stage of World War II,” Davis said. “They endured tumultuous events that would change their lives forever. In four years, they had more experi- ences – good and bad – than do most people in a lifetime.” The peak of the mountain, however, is narrow and precarious, Davis said. His parents’ life began to crumble. Davis believes his father suffered from post-traumatic-stress-disorder acquired during his time in battle. “As he got older, he gradually retreated from any emotional availability,” he said. “I’d show my mother the letters he’d written during World War II, and she’d say, ‘I don’t know this man.’” During the 1950’s and 60’s, the stigma of undergoing mental or emotional therapy kept many, Davis’ parents included, from seek- ing the help they needed. “They loved each other,” he said. “They just had no outside relief.” “The Hero and the Beauty” is available on Davis said he is in negotiations to display his parents’ memora- bilia, including his father’s Medal of Honor, at the National Mu- seum of the Pacific War in Fredericksburg, Texas. APRIL 2019 13