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The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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Pulitzer prize-winning historian lectures on realities of World War II

Pulitzer Prize-winner Rodney Atkinson delivered his lecture, 10 Things Every American Should Know About World War II,” Wednesday night.
Vanessa Peña — THE BATTALION
Pulitzer Prize-winner Rodney Atkinson delivered his lecture, “10 Things Every American Should Know About World War II,” Wednesday night. Vanessa Peña — THE BATTALION

Pulitzer Prize winning-author Rodney Atkinson visited Texas A&M Wednesday to provide students a different perspective of World War II. Presenting his lecture, “10 Things Every American Should Know About World War II,” the journalist and historian said WWII did a lot to shape the modern world.
Atkinson said through his 15 years of researching military documents and historical pieces, he learned about the harsh realities of the war that cost over 60 million lives in just six years.
Casey Greenfield, history freshman, said Atkinson’s talk was pertinent to A&M because of the campus’ military background.
“It’s definitely relevant to A&M’s history considering we had the most active students serve in World War II, and the school still has the Corps of Cadets which continues to prepare people to serve in the military and in the civilian sector,” Greenfield said.
Atkinson said many topics about the war have been romanticized, ranging from the exaggerated size of the U.S. military at the time of the WWII to issues and statistics that are overlooked in modern history classes.
Atkinson said there are humbling reminders of the war that show America’s egocentrism led to misplaced super-patriotism.
“The U.S. Army did not win the war by itself,” Atkinson said. “Though we are proud of our role, proud of our military, we must not be delusional, chauvinistic or so beset with American exceptionalism that we falsify history.”
Atkinson said topics relevant to issues like racism were widespread during the WWII era in the U.S. military.
“The U.S. military was segregated in World War II, and exclusionary,” Atkinson said.
Despite all of these stark contrasts to the romanticized ideas Americans give the war, Atkinson said there was still a high cost that came with fighting a war — a cost that reached Texas A&M. Atkinson said a grave reminder of A&M’s long-standing military contributions to the nation, are the names of the over 20,000 Aggies on the walls of the Memorial Student Center’s entrances who fought in WWII.
Atkinson said one Aggie in particular, Captain Jack E. Golden, Class of 1942, who served overseas for over two years, earning two Silver Stars and a Purple Heart, serves as an even more prominent reminder of what was lost during the war.
Feliz Perez, international studies junior, said the lecture put the effects of war into perspective.
“This lecture puts into context A&M’s role within the conflict, and reflects how the pain and the emotional effects of this war are felt at A&M,” Perez said.
Atkinson said there are around one million veterans alive today and that population will dwindle to around 400 by 2026.
Atkinson said as citizens of this nation who lost many, “it is our first duty to remember.”

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