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Jack Walker got a little choked up as he recited his wedding vows at the altar of First United Methodist Church in Bennettsville last week. 
Gazing at his lovely bride, Bettie, and pledging to love her forever, he confessed later, "I almost didn't get through it."
Never mind that the Walkers, of Birmingham, Alabama, had said those words before - 70 years before, to be exact.
They were joined by more than a dozen family members who came from as far away as Texas to witness them renew their vows on Friday, August 1, at the very place they had been married on the same day in 1944.
"This is a very special day," said their daughter, Peggy Barnes. 
The Walkers' love story began with a blind date in Plainview, Texas, where Jack was stationed for flight training. He struck up a friendship with a young lady and offered to get her a date with one of his friends. That turned into a double date, with her bringing along a friend of her own - Bettie - to meet Jack. 
Jack was soon transferred to Wichita Falls, Kansas, but would drive back and forth on the weekends to see Bettie.
They became engaged after a six-month courtship, Jack purchasing a diamond ring from a jewelry store in Burkburnett, Texas, for $200, and giving it to her on a drive on one of his weekend visits.
While they were engaged, Jack was injured on the flight line. After his release from the hospital, Bettie boarded a train from Plainview to Birmingham, Alabama, then to Laurinburg, NC, where Jack was then stationed.
At that time, North Carolina had a longer waiting period for marriage licenses than did South Carolina, so the couple, like many others, crossed the border to be married in Bennettsville.
The Rev. E.S. Dunbar performed that first ceremony, with his wife as the only witness. The couple spent the night across the street, in what is now the Breeden Inn, then spent 10 days in Laurinburg before Jack went to war and Bettie returned to Texas. They were reunited just before their first anniversary.
Life has been good to the Walkers since then. Together they have seven children, 12 grandchildren and 12 great-grandchildren. 
And it's obvious to anyone who meets them that they are as much in love in 2014 as they were in 1944. Their secrets for a long and happy marriage? 
"Work your way through any problem and don't ever give up," said Jack. Said Bettie, "Trust the Lord and trust each other."
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