Mooresville woman reconnected with soldier's diary 69 years later

Laura Mae Davis gave this diary to her boyfriend when he headed off to war.

A flood of memories come back to many of us over Memorial Day. That has certainly been the case for a 90-year-old Mooresville woman, who recently had the surprise of her life.

The National World War II Museum in New Orleans is all about remembering - making sure we never forget.

Sitting in her Mooresville living room, Laura Mae Davis put it in perspective.

"Sixty nine years is a long time," she said.

So imagine her surprise when she walked up to a display at the museum and looked directly at a diary in the display and read these words.

"I looked at it and it said, 'If this diary is lost, it should be sent to Laura Mae Davis, Winslow, Indiana.' Well, that was a jolt," she said.

Laura Mae had bought the diary as a gift to her high school boyfriend, Thomas "Cotton" Jones, when he enlisted in the Marines after the two had graduated in May 1941.

"He would write different things. 'I just received a letter from Laura Mae'," she said.

The museum got the diary out and let her read its contents.

"He said one time he'd been playing cards with the Marines and he said, 'Oh, if I could take that money back, Laura Mae and I would have a great time'," she said.

But a sniper's bullet changed all of that and life goes on. Laura Mae Davis became Laura Mae Burlingame and, as she describes it, she had a wonderful marriage and a wonderful family. She knew there was a display of Cotton's things at the museum.

"Picture of his platoon, Purple Heart and a picture of Cotton. It was very nice to see it on display," she said.

But she didn't know that it included the diary.

"It was a shock to see it was there and it was supposed to have been given to me 69 years ago. I didn't even know it was there," she said.

The museum sent her a DVD copy of the diary's contents, which she says covers about 30 pages. It was Tommy Jones' last wish that she see it and now, she finally has.

Burlingame says she was not allowed to keep the diary, because it was donated by the Jones family, but she says the museum has been wonderful about the whole situation.