After 70 years, woman finds sweetheart’s wartime diary in National WWII Museum

NEW ORLEANS (WGNO) – “It was a shock. When I got up to the display and the first thing I see is this diary,” says 90-year-old Laura Mae Davis Burlingame.

Everyday hundreds of eyes scan artifacts preserved and put on display inside the National WWII Museum in the Warehouse District, but one day was different. It was the day Laura Mae laid eyes on a diary donated to the museum in 2001.

The diary belonged to Cpl. Thomas Jones, Laura Mae’s high school sweetheart. Inside the diary are messages to Laura Mae; notes spelling out how he desired to marry her, and how if this diary were to be lost he’d want it to end up in her hands.

Assistant director of collections and exhibits Toni Kiser says, “I was really just amazed to think that somebody, after all these years that this diary has been on exhibit here in the museum, that somebody would just come by and see their name in it and not know that it was there, and not know that this diary had been here. it’s really, really amazing.”

Laura Mae gave Cpl. Jones the diary before he left, but she had no idea that he had ever written in it, and no idea that it was at the WWII Museum. She visited the museum only knowing that there was an extensive exhibit dedicated to him, but while glancing through the glass she came face to face with her name, and inside the diary was her picture.

“It was just nice to find out that he did care about me, and was so sorry that it happened the way it did,” says Laura Mae.

Cpl. Jones never got the chance to marry his sweetheart. He was killed by a Japanese sniper in the South Pacific in 1944.

Laura Mae went on to marry and have kids, but now she feels complete knowing the words that Cpl. Jones had intended for her to see finally made it to their destination, even if it took almost 70 years to get there.

Today Laura Mae has a copy of the entire diary. She wants the actual diary to stay at the WWII Museum and says what’s important are the words which now carries with her.

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