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  • Writer's pictureNeal Spelce

The Memorial

August 3, 2021, is two-days-and-five years after UT – finally – dedicated a campus memorial to those killed on campus. This is what I write about the Memorial in my memoir, With The Bark Off, A Journalist’s Memories of LBJ and a Life in the News Media, due to be published by the UT Briscoe Center for American History in September.

Photo Daily Texan Joshua Guerra

"At the dedication ceremony, fifty years after the bullets had rained down on campus, UT President (Greg) Fenves said, ‘We will never eliminate the memory of the horror that consumed this campus on August 1,1966, nor should we try. But by focusing on the good and the stories of the heroes and the lives of the survivors that are with us this afternoon, we can finally begin to remember and endure our burden of the past.’

"I was enormously happy that my alma mater had finally memorialized the names of the victims. The same ceremony also acknowledged and honored the students and others who’d risked their lives to rescue the wounded, as well as the brave police officers who’d put an end to the violence. Recognition and gratitude were long overdue. It was a great healing day in Austin, Texas

"I walked over and read the names on the granite monument, and I felt a rush of memories and emotions from that day when I’d sweated through my shirt and suit jacket while reporting live on the air from Red Rover. As the memorial ceremony unfolded, I was content to stand quietly in the back of the audience and savor the moment. And to remember my courageous colleagues in the news profession – many of them no longer with us – who had thrown themselves into harm’s way by rushing onto campus that day to cover the story while bullets were flying all around them: Joe Lee, Phil Miller, Gary Pickle, Joe Roddy, David Swope, John Thawley, Charles Ward, Gordon Wilkison.

“I will remember their names and their remarkable fearlessness for as long as I draw breath. Their actions were an inspiration to me and can serve as an inspiration to every journalist who scribbles notes in the line of fire or focuses a camera lens on the face of danger. Every day in this country and around the world, dedicated reporters from a new generation, cut from the same cloth as my old friends and colleagues at KTBC, hunker down in danger zones and halls of power to cover stories we need to hear about. They are all my heroes. They put their lives on the line to ensure that as a nation, we shall know the truth, and the truth shall make us free.”

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