Cookson World War II Veteran Honored For Overcoming Illiteracy At 90

Friday, November 8th 2013, 5:42 pm
By: News On 6

An Oklahoma man who is getting national attention for overcoming illiteracy was honored today in advance of Veterans Day.

Cookson resident Ed Bray stormed the beach at Normandy but he didn't learn to read until last year.

Bray has become quite the local legend around Keys High School.

"He just shows us that we can do whatever we want," Keys senior Kaylee Switzer said.

"He's just a special man because he cares so much about others," history teacher Lisa Burton said.

Bray is a World War II veteran who was awarded two Purple Hearts.

CBS News introduced Bray to the world in the spring, and we've been following his progress ever since.

Now he's reading at a fourth-grade level and his mailbox is always full of letters of encouragement from members of his quickly building fan club.

"I still get letters every dadgum day," Bray said. "I got two yesterday."

Bray and 26 other veterans from the Keys High School community were honored on Friday.

Bray took time to tell the students about the importance of reading.

"But it just makes you feel good, I'm telling you," Bray said.

He also wanted them to know how serious their lives would become after they graduate.

"You're going to be running this thing one of these days, you got to look at it that a way," he said. "It's going to be up to you to keep this country in the shape it's in or maybe better."

Bray likes to say his life has boomeranged since he first started reading.

He had no idea the impact he would have after that first CBS News story aired.

The teachers at Keys say everyone looks to him as an example of what one can accomplish if they just put their mind to it.

"His story is remarkable because he doesn't give up," Burton said. "Anything he's been challenged with, he steps up and he faces that."

It's easy to tell when see the response after he was finished speaking.

Bray is doing much more than reading, he is also singing karaoke. A CBS News crew was with him recently and will air follow-up story Friday at 5:30 p.m. on the CBS Evening News with Scott Pelley.