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Patriots Path brings flood of memories

Like all the hundreds of bricks paving Patriot’s Path at Woodland Cemetery, Staff Sgt.

Wednesday, November 14, 2001

Like all the hundreds of bricks paving Patriot’s Path at Woodland Cemetery, Staff Sgt. William T. Bowman’s can tell a story.

In May 1965, the Defense Department notified Margaret Bowman of First Street, Ironton, that her son died while fighting in Vietnam. Bowman, 29, a Superior resident was the first local person to lose his life in the war.

After the funeral, Bowman, who had been attached to the 82nd Paratroopers, was buried in Arlington National Cemetery. In later years, the family scattered, some moving to North Carolina.

Then, in 1988, a buddy of Bowman’s, Ed Morris of Idaho, began research to keep a promise made while serving with Bowman – to find his family and tell them what a wonderful person Bowman was.

Eventually, the story attracted the attention of ABC News’ 20/20 program, who arranged for a reunion.

The two families grew close, sharing stories of their friend, husband, father.

On Sunday, Bowman’s sister, Lucille Bryant, made a special trip from Arkansas to watch the dedication ceremony of the Veterans Memorial Committee’s stone monuments and Patriot’s Path.

"I didn’t want to miss this," Bryant said, adding that she had bought a brick for her son, James. Bowman’s wife, Absley, had bought a brick for him.

"I thought it was wonderful it has meaning," Bryant said, her voice choking. "It means we honor the people who died and gave their lives that we might be free."

Jane Bowman, a second cousin of William’s, traveled from Zanesville for the dedication. She had bought a brick for her uncle, Tom, who fought in the invasion of Okinawa and other battles.

"Freedom is not free ," she said, adding that the memorial brings a lot of meaning to a lot of families.

"I very much believe graves should be honored," Jane Bowman said, adding that her uncle was not only a veteran, but also a historian. "He would have loved the ceremony."

The two stayed with family for a few days over the weekend and this week, sharing stories of the past – of Bowman’s days of Rock Hill High football; of their mothers and fathers and siblings; of cousins who moved or stayed.

They shared memories. Memories that will live on even more within the Patriot’s Path.