by Madison V. Fisler
May 16, 2013. For many young people today, the experience of living through a war can only be partially simulated by a violent video game. But for many young men and women living through World War II, that idea was a reality.
The World War II Symposium, hosted by the Appalachian High Country World War II Round Table will take place this Saturday, May 18 from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. at the Watauga High School Auditorium. The event will feature guest speakers, artwork, war memorabilia and more to educate students and the public about what life was like during World War II. It will act as not only an educational experience, but also a celebration of the veterans of World War II, while highlighting the contributions of local residents to the war.
“Many young people today can not imagine what it would be like to be in a war,” said Keith Buchanan, secretary of the Appalachian High Country World War II Round Table. “This is a way to teach people about what it was really like.”
The free event, which is open to the public, strives to educate young people about World War II and the toll it took on the lives of many and to pay tribute to the veterans of the war.
This year, the organization has teamed up with students from Watauga High School, who with the help of history teachers, were paired up with veterans to learn about their experiences in the war and the war’s aftermath. During the symposium, the 44 veterans and 44 students will work together to educate the public about what really happened back then.
“The purpose of this is to help people understand that these people were not characters in a movie,” Buchanan said. “They are real people with real lives and families and they have some amazing stories to tell.”
During the symposium the veterans will be interviewed on stage and have a chance to tell their stories along with their student partners. The topics will include the war in Europe, the Pacific, Africa and the effects of the war at home. Around 4 p.m., there will also be a group of women to talk about their war experiences from the home front. They will talk about their experiences with rations, supply shortages and the aftermath of the war at home.
There will be ten sessions lasting about 30 minutes each, and containing up to ten veterans in each session, said Ken Wiley, President of the Appalachian High Country World War II Round Table.
“I hope people come away from this with a better understanding of the details of the war, and a better appreciation for the veterans,” Wiley said.
Senator Dan Soucek, a graduate of West Point, will talk about his experiences in a military academy. Jud Brown, a professor at Appalachian State University, will speak on D-Day. Finally, Antoly Isaenko, another professor at Appalachian will speak on the Battle of Stalingrad.
Buchanan will also be doing a session on the Battle of the Bulge with Joel Coffey, The Battle at Normandy and D-Day with Gene Thomas.