The Herald Banner, Greenville, TX

Top News

January 14, 2013

'I'm blessed to be alive'

Picking up the newspaper and reading about “Japanese victories” in World War II in her restricted area in the Phillipines under Japan rule, Dr. Mary Jane Vance, author of the new book “Mary of the Angels”, had to trust that what was being forced on her was nothing more than propaganda.

“All we knew was the propaganda,” she said. “We had no other news, so we had to have faith that something good was going on behind the propaganda.”

Since the Philippines lies on the Asian side of the International Date Line, the Japanese occupiers put out a paper commemorating the attack on Pearl Harbor, on De. 8, 1942, which showcased the progress that was made under Japan rule.

“They came to liberate the Filipinos from the bad Americans,” she said. “I always add a ‘haha’ to the end of that. A ‘yeah right’.”

When the Japanese captured Manila, the capital city of the Philippines, any American was thrown into an internment camp. Any U.S. Currency or Philipine peso was confiscated and replaced with Japanese money.

Vance’s father lived in Hunt County before moving to the Philippines. But her mother was of Spanish heritage, and she used that to keep her children out of the internment camps.

“She had to get a copy of her marriage certificate to prove she was Spanish to keep us in a restricted area and out of a concentration camp,” she said.

Since Vance’s father was American, he was sent to the Santo Tomas internment camp, where he would spend the remainder of the occupation. Stories from the internment camp are atrocious. The average man lost more than 50 pounds during the three years, and of the original 3,200, 390 men, women and children died from malnutrition and other causes at the camp.

Vance said the restricted area didn’t have much better amenities. Her mother would buy cracked wheat and and let mealworms grow in it and used it as a source of protein for her children.

“I stood outside of a Japanese slaughterhouse with a bucket and collected what they didn’t want,” she said. “We would take coagulated blood and cook and eat it. We ate whatever we coud find.”

Vance’s job in the restricted area was to stand in the ration lines and serve. She said she was just the right age to keep out of the Japanese soldiers’ eye.

“I was old enough that I was responsible,” she said. “But young enough that the Japanese soldiers wouldn’t rape me.”

Vance said her family would not have survived had it not have been through the faith of her mother, who kept the family strong during the occupation.

“My mother was a devout Catholic who had three sisters who were nuns and one brother who was a priest,” she said. “Every evening we would gather around the table and pray.”

At just 11 years old and after spending three years under harsh Japanese rule, Vance and her family were reunited with her father. Her father built them wooden boxes so they could take mementos of the time with them.

They were sent home on the S.S. Uruguay, and had to wear life jackets at all times since Japan still controlled a portion of the waters between the Philippines and America. Vance “went from famine to feasting” aboard the ship. She learned a popular card game, Pinochle, that she played with the soldiers and played the piano in the hospital ward of the ship.

The old Greenville hotel, in downtown Greenville was where her family spent their first night in Hunt County after the war. From there, her family began to rebuild and go on with their lives.

“I feel blessed that I’m alive,” she said. “I am very fortunate and thankful to be in this country. I’m very appreciative of our military.”

Vance holds three degrees in education with a doctorate from Texas A&M University-Commerce. She has been the curriculum director for Greenville Independent School Distric, an executive board member of the Association of Teacher Educators (ATE), and was the first executive director for the Consortium of State Organizations for Teacher Education.

Vance ties her strong views on education back to her time spent in the Philippines during that brutal time.

“The thing that pushed me into education was the ignorance of the Japanese soldiers,” she said. “For a while they thought they were in America when they landed in the Philippines.”

Vance said that teaching people not only how to read, but how to comprehend what they are reading, is key to fighting propaganda.

“To me they were brainwashed into doing what they were told to do,” she said. “People need to be a discriminate reader and be able to help others understand the differences.”

Vance will be the keynote speaker at the Greenville Chamber’s Annual Banquet, which will be Jan. 17at the Fletcher Warren Civic Center. Her book, “Mary of the Angels”, will be on sale at the banquet.

For more information on the banquet contact the Greenville Chamber of Commerce online at www.greenvillechamber.com or by calling 903.455.1510.

1
Text Only
Top News
  • Summer returning to area

    Summer’s back.
    After a few days of unseasonably cool temperatures and overcast conditions, the clouds parted Monday afternoon and it started feeling a bit more like July.

    July 22, 2014

  • Bras_for_the_Cause_2014_logo.jpg ‘Bras for the Cause’ making big statement

    This year’s Bras for the Cause (BFTC) will make a big statement with the theme, “BRA-ZINGA!”

    July 21, 2014 1 Photo

  • Council_business_prospects.jpg Council talking business prospects

    The Greenville City Council is scheduled this week to again discuss the status of several potential economic developments.

    July 21, 2014 1 Photo

  • DA_Office_stock_photo-4.jpg New grand jury to begin work

    The latest edition of the Hunt County grand jury is scheduled to begin its term this week and may consider whether or not to issue indictments in two recent shooting deaths.

    July 21, 2014 1 Photo

  • Christopher_Anderson_agg_assaults-3.jpg Sentencing scheduled in aggravated assault case

    A punishment hearing is scheduled this week for a local man, convicted of multiple counts of aggravated assault for ramming into a vehicle filled with people.

    July 21, 2014 1 Photo

  • Commissioners_to_take_courthouse_steps_votejpg.jpg County conducting online vehicle auction

    Automobile enthusiasts looking for a potential bargain may be interested in an online auction beginning today.

    July 21, 2014 1 Photo

  • Rains_did_little_for_Tawakoni_South_Sulphur_River.jpg Rains do little to help Lake Tawakoni

    Last week’s heavy rains did little to improve the level on Lake Tawakoni, and the past couple days of unseasonably cool weather are about to be replaced by the return of a typical Texas summer.

    July 20, 2014 1 Photo

  • New_sign_sought_for_Texan_Theater.jpg New sign proposed for theater project

    The Texan Theater is wanting its name up in lights ... lots of lights.

    July 20, 2014 1 Photo

  • Townhomes_proposed_for_FM_1570.jpg Developer planning townhouses in city

    Greenville city officials are expected to decide this week whether to approve a change in zoning to allow townhomes to be built along a stretch of Jack Finney Boulevard/FM 1570.

    July 20, 2014 1 Photo

  • Commissioners_to_take_courthouse_steps_votejpg.jpg Commissioners to pass courthouse steps resolution

    The Hunt County Commissioners Court intends to take another step Tuesday, as part of the process of renovating the steps at the Hunt County Courthouse.

    July 20, 2014 1 Photo

House Ads
Featured Ads
Poll

What's been the primary cause of the Texas Rangers' poor first half of the 2014 baseball season?

Too many injuries
The loss of Nolan Ryan in the front office
Questionable decisions by general manager Jon Daniels
On-field decisions by manager Ron Washington
Key players just aren't producing
All of the above
     View Results
Facebook
AP Video
UN Security Council Calls for MH 17 Crash Probe Obama Bestows Medal of Honor on NH Veteran Texas Sending National Guard Troops to Border Hopkins to Pay $190M After Pelvic Exams Taped Foxx Cites Washington 'Circus Mirror' NASA Ceremony Honors Moon Walker Neil Armstrong Obama Voices Concern About Casualties in Mideast Diplomacy Intensifies Amid Mounting Gaza Toll AP Exclusive: American Beaten in Israel Speaks Obama Protects Gay, Transgender Workers Raw: Gaza Rescuers Search Rubble for Survivors Raw: International Team Inspects MH17 Bodies Raw: 25 Family Members Killed in Gaza Airstrike US Teen Beaten in Mideast Talks About Ordeal 'Weird Al' Is Wowed by Album's Success Shark Sightings a Big Catch for Cape Tourism Native American Teens Get Taste of College Legendary Actor James Garner Dies Ukraine Rebels: Black Boxes Will Be Returned Recording May Show Attempt at Crash Cover-up
Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

Walking Fingers
Maps, Menus, Store hours, Coupons, and more...
Premier Guide
Real Estate News