“A Five Corner Hero”

Dear Reader:

Happy Veterans Day!

When I find myself in cemeteries where military tombstones and markers are in abundance…like the cemetery in Laurens where mother, daddy, and David lie…I feel such strong emotions for these men and women who ‘cut no corners’ when it came time to serve… and gave their lives for our freedom today.

One of my favorite local authors has always been Margot Theis Raven. When Carol Poole and I were doing workshops… especially for Georgetown County… we “lucked up” and found ourselves presenting at the same teacher forum she was. We excitedly told her how much we loved her children’s historical books…they made social studies for elementary and middle grade students come alive.

Some of her books included:

…and Carol’s and my favorite book for Veterans Day…America’s White Table. If you aren’t familiar with this story…click on the slide presentation.

*America’s white table – SlideShare

I don’t know how many times Carol and I set the table for this lesson on patriotism and sacrifice….but it was a lot. It was hard to get through the “demonstration” without breaking down and crying.

On the particular presentation in Georgetown where we got to see Margot Raven in person…she was not alone. While presenting her book at a Veterans dinner in Washington, DC she met her future husband and that day we all ended up together… we got to meet him too.

The presentation was titled: “A Five-Corner Hero.” It all started with a story Raven had heard from her parents about kindness and sharing…coming full circle.

There is  a story of a little girl with a piece of paper that had four corners. The girl treasured her four corners until she met a friend who only had three corners. When the friend asked for a fourth corner, the girl reluctantly gave her one corner from her paper. The girl thought she would have only three corners, but then noticed her paper now had five corners — two were in the place of the corner she had cut out to give to her friend.

Raven concluded with the statement “Sometimes, what you lose comes back… in abundance.”  

*If you look at the title picture…you can visibly see how cutting one corner off a  4-corner square or rectangle now leaves you with 5-corners.

Margot then went on to introduce Vietnam prisoner of war Air Force Colonel Thomas Hanton...whom she had met at the luncheon in Washington, DC.

…After arriving at the prisoner of war camp ( where he would endure torture for nine months)…Hanton looked at what he had and found a way to boost the spirits of other prisoners, Raven said.

Using dead mosquitoes, Hanton created an American flag on the wall in the prison..

“He had time and there were plenty of mosquitoes,” she explained.

Hanton was punished when guards discovered it, and the wall was whitewashed, she continued.

“Three days later, (Hanton) started a new flag,” Raven said. “That’s what you do when you’re a fifth-corner person.”

Raven encouraged everyone in the audience  to be” five-corner people” and to look for heroes among everyday people.

Carol and I were so happy when we heard later that she and Colonel Thomas Hanton were engaged and then married…living in Mt. Pleasant.


But then as I researched her story again for a Veterans presentation a few years later ..I was forced to pause in shock.

I  discovered an  obituary notice  for author, Margot Theis Raven. She died August 16, 2014 from Triple Negative Breast Cancer.

There was a memorial service at St. Benedict Catholic Church in Mt. Pleasant and a tombstone erected…today, however, her body is interred at Arlington National Cemetery. She is certainly deserving of that honor for all the contributions she made for Veterans everywhere with her book.

Today when you stop to thank a veteran…let him or her know  that they are a “five corner hero” to you.

So until tomorrow…Don’t forget the kindness lesson on how four corners become five corners when you give one away…

By giving away all your corners, you will change the shape of what you are holding,” Raven said. Eventually, the paper becomes a circle, the shape of the world. Yes…each of you can change the world by your generosity to others!”

“Today is my favorite day”  Winnie the Pooh

Margot’s last book was published just two weeks before her death in August of 2014…the story of a remarkable dog  in  WWI




*Ben, Thank you today for all you endured in Vietnam and since…we both are living with on-going health challenges, breast cancer and PTSD but mother didn’t raise any quitters…did she?

Quote from my brother Ben:

I’m often asked, “So where is God in all of this?” My answer is the same… that God is where He has always been-right beside you. Should He be busy, He has lots of angels ready to do His bidding. I’ve bumped into a few of them along life’s journey. I also ran into a few of them in Vietnam.”

“I don’t see PTSD as some sort of disease. Rather, in my case, fighting PTSD has opened doors and avenues of personal development that would never have happened otherwise. It may seem like a big price to pay but I know that I’m better as a person because of what I have had to learn about myself and the mysterious way God works. Amen.”

Monday morning the most beautiful moth landed on some morning glory leaves and I was able to get a quick picture of it…I texted Cindy Ashley and asked my ‘science guru’ if she knew what type of moth it was (just sheer curiosity)…she  knew right out of the gate… but researched for a whole day to verify it.



I told Cindy she was a true ‘lifetime learner‘ …a retired science teacher still filled with curiosity and wonder!


I called Brooke to tell her that I took a picture of her sasanqua camellia to show Charlene at Flowertown Nursery…we found a match but it was from Southern Living and just had a girl’s name-Dianna.

I told Charlene I knew it wasn’t a girl’s name but something really pretty that had a special meaning for Brooke and me…Brooke had liked the name as much as the bloom.

I said it was something lyrical like ‘Dawn over light‘ or something similar… suddenly Charlene said she remembered Brooke and the birthday camellia and it had the word HOPE in it.

She reminded me that each floral company gives flowers a different nickname … she thought it should be called… …”Dawn of Hope.”  I called Brooke and told her …perfect..that is its name from now on.

On this Veterans Day…May we all look to a new dawn and hope for a new day.




About Becky Dingle

I was born a Tarheel but ended up a Sandlapper. My grandparents were cotton farmers in Laurens, South Carolina and it was in my grandmother’s house that my love of storytelling began beside an old Franklin stove. When I graduated from Laurens High School, I attended Erskine College (Due West of what?) and would later get my Masters Degree in Education/Social Studies from Charleston Southern. I am presently an adjunct professor/clinical supervisor at CSU and have also taught at the College of Charleston. For 28 years I taught Social Studies through storytelling. My philosophy matched Rudyard Kipling’s quote: “If history were taught in the form of stories, it would never be forgotten.” Today I still spread this message through workshops and presentations throughout the state. The secret of success in teaching social studies is always in the story. I want to keep learning and being surprised by life…it is the greatest teacher. Like Kermit said, “When you’re green you grow, when you’re ripe you rot.”
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4 Responses to “A Five Corner Hero”

  1. Jo Dufford says:

    Loved this message today. Since all of us have been personally touched by a veteran, it even comes closer home when we have a day to remember the service of so many. Thanks be to God who created men and women willing to be five- cornered heroes to keep the rest of us free.


  2. Rachel Edwards says:

    Great blog entry for Veterans Day. I remember those books. And I love the five corner stoty…made me think of one of my favorite veterans Doug Hetzel who is buried in the cemetary in Beaufort. Throughout his battle with ALS he never complained and would send me a text written on his computer using his eyes to type it to thank me every time I visited him. At his service at Bethany it was packed with servicemen and 3 Generals and his friend from college spoke…they told both heroic and funny stories of a true officer and gentleman…we all.should be thankful for those who have fought for the democracy we live in


    • Becky Dingle says:

      Thank you God for veterans like Doug Hetzel who became a role model to so many people …filled with courage, compassion,hope, and love of country, family, and friends…a true five star citizen of freedom.


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