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Korean War veterans invited to conference

Dec. 7, 2009 at 6:07 a.m.

The Korean War Veterans Memorial honors those Americans who answered the call, those who worked and fought under the most trying circumstances and those who gave their lives for the cause of freedom.

KOREAN WAR VETERANS CONFERENCE

June 24-26

The Victoria College

Banquet speaker: Jim Lehrer, PBS News Hour anchor

We do not have to look very far in our families to find a Korean War veteran. This event is still ever present in our memories. June 25, marks the 60th anniversary of the beginning of the Korean War. In commemoration of this historical event, Charles Spurlin, Korean War veteran and noted retired Victoria College historian, formulated the idea for a conference. As he relates, "Being a Korean War combat veteran, the war is never too far from my mind no matter how hard I try to set it aside." Notables scheduled for the event include PBS Jim Lehrer News Hour anchor, Jim Lehrer, as the banquet speaker. Lehrer is a major booster of the Victoria College and the late Dr. John W. Stormont. On various occasions, Lehrer has returned to the VC campus and always remembers his days here with fond memories. Lehrer's family lived in Victoria during the 1950s, and while he attended VC, he worked as a ticket agent at the local bus station. He prides himself in still being able to recite from memory the names of towns along scheduled bus stops from Victoria.

Spurlin added, "There is a group of lay and professional historians from Houston, San Antonio, Seguin, Corpus Christi, Lockhart, Hallettsville, Victoria, and elsewhere who meet once a month, usually in Victoria, to discuss historical projects that each might be involved with. Several months ago, I suggested a conference on the Korean War. To my pleasant surprise, the response was overwhelmingly positive and several of the individuals immediately offered to assist in any way they could, even to make presentations and contact sources at universities who may also be interested in taking part.

"One of our local oral history specialists, Barbara Parsons Smith, contacted Baylor University and the Texas Historical Commission, where she received favorable responses for conducting oral history interviews with veterans who attend the conference. In addition, the Texas State Historical Association will support and offer its involvement in the Conference." Spurlin is in charge of local arrangements and is assisted by Dr. James Smallwood, professor emeritus at Oklahoma State University, program chairman along with Brenda Fisseler of Hallettsville. Dr. Kenneth Howell, history professor at Prairie View A&M, is contacting history departments and history journals, and Dr. Joe Dahlstrom, director of the VC/UHV Library, which will sponsor the event.

Spurlin adds, "Even though the conference is just getting off the ground, there has been feedback from across the nation. The Center for the Study of the Korean War in Missouri is interested in having a display, a team of DNA investigators attempting to identify the remains of fallen Korean War soldiers has expressed a desire to participate, and former soldiers who served together in Korea intend to hold a reunion to coincide with the conference. Overall, the Forgotten War is not Forgotten."

Encourage all Korean War veterans to attend this momentous event June 24-26, 2010, at the Victoria College. More details later and Happy Researching.

E-mail mjones@vicad.com.

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