Episode 23 - The Valediction

(13 March 1980)
Writer: Claire Whittaker.
Director: Harry Harris.
Music: Alexander Courage.


"Sometimes it seemed as if we'd always been at war, the quiet of our lives on Waltons Mountain was interrupted daily by headlines and bulletins that took us to far off deserts and island outposts with impossible names. Our days swung between hope and despair, but somehow we went forward, meeting the demands of life in a troubled world, proving at home what the war was proving on every front, that a crisis can make leaders of the most ordinary of men".


The family gathers for breakfast to find Jim Bob wearing a coat and tie, but still in blue jeans. The school seniors are being photographed for graduation. Jim Bob is not excited about his graduation, because many are away. Jeffrey is in suspense, wondering who his fifth substitute teacher will be. At the same time, Corabeth prepares for her first day as the new substitute teacher. Corabeth is tired of being the 'Cash-n-Carry Queen of a Country Store’, hoping her new job will lead to further teaching assignments after finishing classes at Boatwright College. But her first day is not ideal as the children giggle at her ideas.


John is surprised to see John-Boy unexpectedly walk up behind him in the mill. He is home for a ten-day furlough, after asking as be reassigned to overseas duty. John thinks he has already sacrificed much to the war effort, but finally understands his son's need for further military duty.


At school, Jeffrey is punished for throwing spitballs. While Jim Bob cleans out his desk Jeffrey overhears Corabeth tell Jim Bob that either Rollin Piper or he will be valedictorian, dependent on next week's science exam. Jim Bob says he doesn't want the honor because of being a poor speaker.


The family gathers in the living room to discuss Serena's upcoming doll wedding, while Erin writes to Ashley, Elizabeth talks with Drew on the telephone, and Jim Bob wonders whether to paint his car. Erin is concerned that Ashley has not written for awhile. When Jeffrey announces that Jim Bob may be the class valedictorian, Jim Bob says he will flunk the test so he won't receive the award. The tone of the discussion becomes somber when the family discusses how the city of Rome is about to fall and the invasion of the European continent will likely occur next.


Jim Bob runs after Elizabeth when she reacts coldly toward him. He learns that she is ashamed of him for thinking about intentionally flunking his test. At Ike's store, Rose is given a letter to Erin addressed from Ashley Longworth, Jr. Ike also finds a special present for Rose to give to Jim Bob, gold cufflinks that a salesman by the name of Matthews left. The letter of "M" is easily turned over to make "W". Ike asks five dollars for the gift and agrees to the arrangement when Rose says, 'a dollar down and a dollar a week'.


Erin and Mary Ellen arrive late after staying at work to hear more war news. Rose gives Erin the letter, assuming it will be good news. But Erin learns that Ashley has married an English woman from London by the name of Margaret. Erin is crushed; blaming the war that has kept them apart.


The family eats breakfast, assuming that Erin will stay home from work as she deals with her disappointment. But Erin comes down dressed for work, saying J.D. expects her to 'sweet-talk' a government official through the plant today. Just then Ike calls telling them to turn on the radio for a big announcement: The Allies have invaded France. That night the family returns to the radio, hearing FDR talk about the reasons for World War II. The men leave to cut wood, while the women wait.


At Pickett’s, John-Boy and Erin eat lunch together. Erin tells her big brother that she will devote her life to her career, going to New York City after the war ends to work for an advertising company. Knowing she is holding inside her personal hurt, John-Boy relates a story about how a hospital aid cried for him when he wouldn't cry himself.


At school, Corabeth announces that two students, Roland Piper and Marvella Sue Littleton, scored above ninety-five percent, and one student scored one hundred percent. She asks James Robert Walton to stand. With tomorrow as the last day of class, Corabeth announces her plans for the ceremony. Jim Bob interrupts, saying he isn't going to recite her speech, but rather will write his own speech and announces that if the whole class works together they can organize a good ceremony.


John leaves for a short trip, saying he will bring back a surprise for Jim Bob's graduation. Jeffrey is glad school is out, looking forward to the long summer ahead. However, Elizabeth is unsure she will attend graduation since she had a fight with Drew about the war. Jason returns home unexpectedly with Ben who wants to surprise Cindy. Later she realizes that this is his last trip home, as he readies to join his outfit leaving for the South Pacific. Cindy cries about him missing out on Virginia's early years. But, Ben has bought her a camera to take pictures of his baby while gone.


Corabeth is concerned when she calls about the disappearance of Jim Bob and the other seniors. As she talks with Rose, Jim Bob is dropped off at the house. As he dresses for his special day, Rose gives him the present. Jim Bob says he will never forget her or this day. Meanwhile, Corabeth is stressed with the upcoming ceremony and the lack of gratitude received from the students. Just then Roland Piper appears, much to the chagrin of Corabeth. But Roland blurts out that she was the best substitute teacher they had and presents her with a corsage. Jason plays the piano as the seniors walk down the aisle to the outdoor stage. As Corabeth opens the ceremony, John drives up with Grandma. Corabeth pauses for a moment then resumes announcing the Walton's Mountain Class of 1944 valedictorian James Robert Walton. Jim Bob states that five years ago they might have gone to collage or started careers. But with the war, he informs the audience that today the boys all enlisted in the army, with the girls going along for moral support.


The next morning the boys are ready to go off to war. John-Boy drives up with Jim Bob's car newly painted yellow as a gift to Elizabeth. One at a time, the boys hug their father and then walk together down the road. The family watches them leave, unsure about the future.


"My brothers and I knew as we walked away that morning that things would never again be the same. The war would teach us how small Waltons Mountain was, and how ordinary our lives there. And yet, from the foxholes of France, and the skies over Germany, on the reefs and stolls of the South Pacific, wherever the war was to take us, we returned to the mountain in memory, over and over again; that wooded earth, that frame house, that weathered porch where our loved ones waited - home".


John: Isn't anybody going to say Goodnight?
Elizabeth: Goodnight Daddy. Goodnight Jim Bob.
Jeffrey: Jim Bob can't hear you.
Elizabeth: I can pretend can't I?
Erin: Goodnight John-Boy. Goodnight Ben. Goodnight Jason.
John: Goodnight everyone.



Ben is stationed at Camp Perry.

John-Boy has returned to the Army.

Corabeth's mother ran a boarding house and taught piano lessons.

Rose is assumed to be a Democratic after commenting that if Jim Bob should run for President, he should do so only as a Democrat.

Ike's present to Jim Bob is a card and two one-dollar bills.

Three boys (Rollin Piper is one of them) and two girls (Marvella Sue Littleton and Marte Post) graduate high school along with Jim Bob.


Also appearing:

Ike and Corabeth Godsey (Joe Conley and Ronnie Claire Edwards), Cindy Walton (Leslie Winston), John Curtis (Michael and Marshall Reed), Rose Burton (Peggy Rea), Serena Burton (Martha Nix), Jeffrey Burton (Keith Mitchell), John-Boy Walton (Robert Wightman), Drew Cutler (Tony Becker), Roland Piper (Gary Imhoff), Senior Boy Number One (Eric Stoltz), Senior Girl Number One-Marvella Sue Littleton (Susan McClung), Senior Boy Number Two (Richard Lasting), Senior Girl Number Two (Marte Post)