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Veterans Day columns by Tom Nelson published by Montana newspapers

The two columns by the associate professor of communications offers insights into Montana history tied to the end of World War I. 

Two columns penned by Tom Nelson, associate professor of communications, tied to Veterans Day were published in newspapers in Montana, where Nelson spends part of his summers. 

Tom Nelson, associate professor of communications

​​Each focused on Montana historical ties to Veterans Day and the end of World War I, which marked its 100th anniversary this year. 

In "Armistice Day not a time of celebration for Helena's Myrna Loy," Nelson wrote about how the end of World War I was a time of sadness for the famous Hollywood star. Loy spent her youth in Helena, Montana, and just days before the Great War ended, her father, Congressman David Franklin Williams, had died just days before from the Spanish Influenza. 

From the column, published in the Independent Record of Helena

Myrna Loy was just an early teenager at the time, born in 1905. She would live for decades and decades beyond Nov. 11 of 1918 but that day was always with her. The ambivalence of her experience on Armistice Day was a talking point for Myrna Loy throughout her life. It should remain a talking point for those of who survive her in Helena.

Remembering is a matter of loyalty toward a woman who held Helena dear enough to ask that she be buried there. Myrna Loy is now ashes at the feet of her father whose own internment in Forestvale is a personal family drama played out within the public American drama of the armistice that ended the Great War. This is the month, the day and the hour to remember all of it.

In the second column, "Remembering Cyrus Gatton: ‘He gave his life for his country’," Nelson asks readers to travel with him to Armistice Day when Mrs. M. Gatton was grieving for her son, Cyrus, a student and athlete at Montana State University who was an air corps pilot during World War I. 

Gatton would commission what would be called the "Gatton Gate," which at the time was the main entrance to the university's football field. 

From the column, published Nov. 11 in the Bozeman Daily Chronicle:

There is a photo of Cyrus Gatton taken during his Montana State days. It gives me pause to see him young, handsome and healthy unaware of his near fate. It moves me to echo the same sentiment expressed by his mother at Gatton Gate’s dedication ceremony in 1930.

“HE LOVED ATHLETICS, HE WAS STRONG,

ALERT, RESOURCEFUL, VALIANT,

LOYAL TO HIS COMRADES,

HONEST AND GENEROUS

TOWARD HIS OPPONENTS”

The plaque on Cyrus Gatton’s gateway to this time nearly forgotten reminds us in bold bronze of his legacy.

“HE GAVE HIS LIFE FOR HIS COUNTRY.”

A parting thought so touchingly memorialized by his mother at the entrance of what was once Cyrus Gatton’s field of dreams.

Owen Covington,
Staff
11/27/2018 9:00 AM