May 28, 2019
East Texas Baptist University hosted the 24th annual tribute to Sam B. Hall, Jr. on Monday, May 27 at the historic Harrison County Courthouse Square in downtown Marshall. The Sam B. Hall Memorial Day Celebration: A Patriotic Concert featured patriotic live music performed by the East Texas Symphonic Band, a salute to those who sacrificed their lives in U.S. military service, and commemorated the legacy of The Honorable Sam B. Hall, Jr.
“Today, we reflect on what it means to live in the land of the free,” ETBU President J. Blair Blackburn said. “We are grateful for a nation that stands for liberty, especially religious liberty. That is why we have institutions, like ETBU, that stand true to God’s Word, integrating biblical faith and academic learning. As citizens of Marshall and Harrison County, you can continue to count on East Texas Baptist to hold fast to what God has called us to do. A part of our commitment as an institution is to honor the life of Sam B. Hall, Jr. each year. The Hall Family provided an endowment to ensure Judge Hall’s legacy lives on, and we continue to tell the story of what it means to be an American patriot through our Sam B. Hall, Jr. Professor of History Endowed Chair.”
Sam B. Hall, Jr. delivered the first lecture of the Sam B. Hall, Jr. Lecture Series, which was endowed in 1993 by his family and friends to commemorate his legacy. A native of Marshall, he was a graduate of the College of Marshall, forerunner of East Texas Baptist University, and Baylor University School of Law. Judge Hall served as United States Congressman – Texas, District 1 and Federal Judge for the Texas Eastern District Court. His biography, Sam B. Hall Jr.: Whatever is Right by Sam B. Hall, Jr. Professor of History and ETBU Dean of the School of Humanities Jerry Summers, was published in 2005.
“Judge Hall was a patriot, in love with Marshall, his country, and the flag,” Dr. Summers shared. “He was a veteran of the Army Air Corps in the Second World War, a Representative for the United States First Congressional District of Texas, and a Texas Eastern District Federal Judge. He was the son, grandson, and grandnephew of men, who fought in the Civil War and First World War. He appreciated veterans and stood up for them when not many would. He actively helped veterans and let them know how much he treasured them for their service and sacrifice. Memorial Day was a chief holiday for Sam B. Hall, Jr. In the spirit of Judge Hall’s gratitude, how proper it is for us to remember those, who died in the line of duty.”
ETBU held the Sam B. Hall Memorial Day Celebration outdoors for the first time, adjacent to the Sam B. Hall Federal Courthouse and the Harrison County Courthouse. Judge Hall practiced law for more than 20 years in these courthouses, serving under his father for 10 years. His daughters, Becky Palmer and Amanda Wynn, shared reflections during the ceremony.
“To see the courthouse right here is very emotional for us,” Palmer expressed. “He was still living when they decided to name the courthouse for him, and he was honored. When we were trying to decide what to do for the event this year, we had a meeting with Dr. Blackburn. As he shared his vision with us, Amanda and I looked at each other in amazement. Everything he said, we had talked about already. It was a God thing.”
Wynn added, “It is a very memorable day for all of us. We are proud to have two veterans in this family, our father, who was in the U.S. Army Air Corps, and my husband, Tom, a Vietnam veteran. We are forever grateful for all of those, who gave their lives that we might be here tonight and that we would be a free nation. Daddy did not just celebrate today. He celebrated the men and women, who gave their lives every day. He held a special place in his heart for the people who served our country.”
A backdrop of Memorial Day pictures and information accompanied the patriotic music directed by Dr. James Snowden. The East Texas Symphonic Band volunteered to perform songs such as the National Anthem; Victory; Armed Forces Salute; Texas, Our Texas; God Bless the USA; and Stars and Stripes Forever.
“The pictures, numbers, music, and all of the thoughtfulness that went into this helped us understand the sacrifices that have been made for us,” Elysian Fields High School Teacher and ETBU Board of Trustees Member Jana Sims shared. “This day is especially meaningful for me because my grandfather served in World War II. When I visited my 95-year-old grandmother in the nursing home, I saw pictures of my grandparents together, wearing their American shirts. They raised me with World War II generation values – the love for America and taking pride in your people. We need to impart these values and pass the flame we have inside us to the next generation. I would encourage others to find someone who has served and get to know them personally, take care of our people, and even join the armed forces.”