Patrick Wall
Style Editor
Legendary journalist Tom Brokaw called them the “Greatest Generation.” Countless Americans call them heroes. But for the veterans of World War II, the most fitting term might just be “brother” or “sister.”
On Monday, George Mason University will host Never Forget: WWII Veterans. According to the group’s mission statement, the event aims to “provide George Mason students the opportunity to play a role in our American and global memory.”
At 2 p.m., the Johnson Center Cinema will be showing the first two episodes of Band of Brothers, the popular HBO miniseries based on the experiences of the 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment. Mason history professor Harry Butowsky will give opening remarks. Butowsky teaches courses on World War I as well as the European and Pacific theaters of World War II.
At 7 p.m., Mason will welcome four veterans to Harris Theater for a panel discussion. During the discussion, the four veterans will answer questions from the Mason community, as well as community members. The panel will be moderated by military history professor Christopher Hamner. Hamner is a specialist in the changing combat experiences of American soldiers from the eighteenth to twentieth centuries.
The event is organized by Mason student and Never Forget series chairwoman Megan Fowler. In 2007, Fowler worked as an intern with the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. Her experiences there inspired her to create last year’s event. Never Forget showed Schindler’s List and set up a panel discussion featuring a local Holocaust survivor.
The event was a success, earning attention from students and faculty alike. Even Mason President Alan Merten attended, offering his support for future events. His wife, Sally Merten, will be giving the welcome address before the panel discussion.
Although Fowler organized last year’s event, Monday’s event holds special significance. Her grandfather served in the Navy, and a close family friend fought in the Pacific Theater. They both died before she was old enough to appreciate their sacrifices. Fowler wants to ensure her experience doesn’t become commonplace.
“[Veterans are] going to pass away, and after they’re gone, you find out that they were there when they liberated Auschwitz, or they were there with a victory garden.” said Fowler. “They lived through a unique situation.”
Although Fowler is a senior, she hopes the events will continue in the future. According to Fowler, organizing the event takes close to a year. With the help of a freshman interested in continuing the series, Fowler hopes Never Forget continues at Mason.
Fowler is hopeful that last year’s success will help attract more Mason students this Monday. And her advice to those students? “Be active,” Fowler said. “It’s off the page, in-your-face, 3D history.”
For information about the events, including how to volunteer for this and next year’s event, e-mail Fowler at
The event is being co-sponsored by University Life, Office of Military Services, ACE/Wal-Mart Foundation, Honors College, University Scholars, Mason Community Outreach, National Society for Collegiate Scholars, the Social Programming Fund and Phi Alpha Delta.