WSQ: Women's Studies Quarterly | VOL. 36
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Emmett Till’s Ring

Publication Date Jan 1, 2008

Abstract

On July 13, 1945, Mamie Till received a telegram at her home in Argo, Illinois, notifying her that her estranged husband, Private Louis Till, had been killed in Italy.1 The Department of Defense subsequently sent her his personal effects, including a silver ring he had bought in Casablanca, engraved with his initials and a date, May 25, 1943. During the following ten years, their son, Emmett Till, would occasionally try on his father's ring. Since Emmett was only four when Louis Till was killed, the ring was always too large for him. But in mid-August 1955, as he packed for what was to have been a two-week visit with relatives in Money, Mississippi, he tried the ring on again. Still too big for his ring finger, it now fit the middle finger perfectly. Emmett and his mother agreed that he could wear the ring on his trip to show his cousins and his friends. In her memoir, Death of Innocence: The Story of the Hate Crime that Changed America, written with Christopher Benson, Mamie Till-Mobley recalls that during the conversation about the ring, Emmett asked her about his father: We had talked about the fact that his father was a soldier in World War II and that he had been killed overseas. The only thing I could tell him at that point was the only thing I was told by the army. The cause of death, I explained to Emmett, was "willful misconduct." I didn't know what that meant, and when I tried to find out, I never got a satisfactory answer from the army. A lawyer and friend, Joseph Tobias, had tried to help in 1948. But he was told...

Concepts

Willful Misconduct Local Law Enforcement Officials Soldier In World War Death Of Innocence Tallahatchie River Estranged Husband Emmett Till Two-week Visit City Of New Orleans Satisfactory Answer

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