Jean Elton, former Byrnes Foundation Executive Secretary
in the poem by Shelley, was a powerful king who ruled over a mighty
kingdom. To ensure that posterity would remember his great exploits,
he had a magnificent statue created in his image with these words carved
on the base: "My name is Ozymandias, King of Kings; Look on my
works, ye mighty, and despair!" Many years later, according to
the poem, a traveler found the remains of the statue and the inscription
and wondered who this Ozymandias was. All that remained were broken
pieces of stone and desert sand where his kingdom had been. His attempt
to immortalize himself had failed.
Unlike Ozymandias, James F. Byrnes desired no memorial in stone. As
Andy Courtney mentioned in his speech at the luncheon, Governor Byrnes
said service to people was the only monument he felt worth leaving.
Indeed, he will be memorialized in the history books for his service
service to his state, to his nation, and to his world. His many accomplishments
are listed elsewhere on this web site. He will ever stand as one
of South Carolina's most famous, most influential sons.
He is remembered by those of you who knew him in a more personal way.
According to your own statements, you remember much more than the dollars
he gave to help you go to school. You remember his energy, his laughter,
his singing, his dancing, his loving, his caring, his giving, his counsel,
his decency, his goodness.
His greatest memorial, however, is not in the history books or even
in your precious memories for these will fade with time. His greatest
memorial is you, the nine hundred or so Byrnes Scholars who
have benefited from his generosity. You have made his memory live in
at least three ways:
First, you have contributed over $220,000 to the scholarship fund
and continue to give, ensuring that what he called "the most rewarding
thing I've ever done" will continue long after our lives have
ended. Decades from now, new Byrnes Scholars will hear the stories
of "Mom" and
"Pop" Byrnes and will honor their memories.
Second, you are honoring his memory each day as you give back to society
through the work you do. He would have been so proud to read on this
web site and others of the successes you've enjoyed, your promotions,
your awards, your contributions to your world through your work.
As important as the first two memorials are, probably, the third is
most important. That is the way you're emulating Governor Byrnes in
your personal lives. When I read all your "extra-curricular" activities,
I can see you too energetic, laughing, singing, dancing, loving,
caring, giving, counseling good, decent people. Many of you
are working with children and young people, helping give direction
to their lives. Many are volunteering through schools and churches.
Several are serving on boards of colleges and universities. At least
five of you have started your own scholarship funds. The influence
the Byrnes had on you, you're having on others, an awesome thought.
Yes, you are his greatest memorial, a living memorial, one that will
live on and on through the lives you've touched.
I didn't have the privilege of knowing Governor and Mrs. Byrnes personally,
but I know them through your memories, and I know them through you,
and my live has been enriched. Thank you for touching my life.
Donate To The Foundation
In return for their generosity and support, Mom and Pop Byrnes asked only two things from us: become the very best people we could become in life, and make sure their legacy of family continues for those who come after us.
Please consider making a tax deductible contribution to the James F. Byrnes Foundation to secure its ability to invite more deserving young women and men to join the Byrnes family, both now and in the future. The Donate button will take you to the Paypal site where you can use your credit card or Paypal account to make a secure, one-time donation or set up a monthly recurring donation.
Join the Maude's Angels Network
Maude’s Angels is family helping family. It is a network of former Scholars who assist a current Scholar or Alumnus with a need for an item or service.