Walking across the Baylor campus, you may have noticed that your way is marked by distinctive lampposts, some of which bear plaques honoring Baylor men and women killed serving their country. These memorial lampposts are said to serve as honor guards by day and to illuminate the campus by night and are part of a tradition that began in 1946.
One day, Frank Jasek, a preservation specialist for the Baylor libraries, paused to read one of the plaques, and he recalls that “I felt as though that plaque was a portal to a friend that I was to meet.” Thus began the project that would become Soldiers of the Wooden Cross, a book compiling information, stories, and photos on each of the men and women memorialized by the lampposts. “It is my hope that after reading what is presented on the pages you will gain some insight into who this hero was.”
Jasek started his research at The Texas Collection, but he also used government documents and even reached out to the families of the deceased, who in some cases were able to provide photos, letters, and other valuable artifacts. Soldiers of the Wooden Cross: Military Memorials of Baylor University is available at The Texas Collection, as is the Frank Jasek papers, which feature the research files compiled in the process of completing the book.
For more information, see the book’s website, which includes excerpts, reviews, and a list of retailers. The Waco Tribune-Herald and the Baylor Lariat also have done articles on Jasek’s labor of love. Visit the University Development website for information on campus memorials and tributes.
Working with the Waco Foundation, Jasek started the Soldiers of the Wooden Cross Scholarship Fund for veterans, family members of veterans, ROTC cadets, and active duty military. All proceeds of book sales will benefit this scholarship fund.