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U of M's Orr Center Will Celebrate the Service of World War II Soldiers University News
For release: November 15, 2010

For press information, contact Jonathan Judaken, 901/488-7475

A veteran of WWII and a contemporary author who has written about that conflict will both speak at the University of Memphis on Thursday, Nov. 18th, sponsored by the Marcus W. Orr Center for the Humanities.

The evening will begin with a reception at 6 p.m., with the men’s presentations following at 6:30 p.m.  The program will be held in the University Center Theater.  Convenient parking is available in the Zach Curlin garage adjacent to the UC.

Leon Bass will relate his remarkable story as an African-American soldier who was one of the liberators of the Buchenwald concentration camp.  After helping defeat the Nazis, he left the military only to face a Jim Crow society back at home in the United States.  Bass was featured in a documentary, “Fighting on Two Fronts.”

Rick Atkinson, a Pulitzer Prize-winning author, will deliver the evening’s Belle McWilliams Lecture in American History.  Writer of An Army at Dawn: The War in North Africa” and “The Day of Battle: The War in Sicily and Italy,” Atkinson will discuss the contingencies that defined the European theater of the war and how the lives of American GIs of that conflict helped shape the lives of generations of soldiers who came after them.

The double-bill event also honors the late Dr. Marcus W. Orr, a long-time professor at the University of Memphis, for whom the Center for the Humanities is now named.  Orr himself was a soldier, as well as a teacher, advocate, and scholar.  This year marks the 20th anniversary of his death.

Additional sponsors of “American Soldiers and the Liberation of Europe” are the Department of History and the Bornblum Judaic Studies program at the University of Memphis, the Temple Israel Brotherhood, and Facing History and Ourselves.

For more information, call Jonathan Judaken at 901-488-7475.  More information about the Orr Center is available online at

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