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Events on March 23 and 27 to commemorate National Vietnam War Veterans Day

ISSUED: 13 March 2018
MEDIA CONTACT: Valerie Owens

SHEPHERDSTOWN, WV — Shepherd University and the United States Veterans Arts Program (USVAP) are working together to commemorate National Vietnam War Veterans Day with a series of events that will include a concert of music composed by Vietnam veteran James Kimo Williams and played by pianist Leon Bates.

The concert, “A Soldier’s Trilogy—In Four Parts,” will take place on Tuesday, March 27, at 8 p.m. in the Frank Center Theater. Admission is $15 for the general public; $10 for Shepherd faculty and staff, alumni, senior citizens, and those 18 and under; and free for active duty military, veterans, and Shepherd students with a valid Rambler ID.

The concert will feature “Buffalo Soldiers,” “For The Sons of Nam,” “Quiet Shadows,” and “Into The Liquid/A Veterans Lament,” all rearranged by Williams for piano. Williams will provide program notes and an interactive discussion before each piece, speaking about his tour of duty in 1970 and how music helped him express his military experience.

“Those are four pieces that really encompass, from my perspective, what it means to have served,” Williams said. “The music is very personal to me. As a Vietnam veteran, you want to have a way of talking about your experiences and sometimes the words aren’t there, so you look for other avenues. Music has been a way for me to do that.”

A symposium will take place on Friday, March 23, from 5-7:30 p.m. in the Erma Ora Byrd Hall Auditorium. The symposium, which is free and open to the public, will explore the broad experiences of veterans, how some may have used art as a means for personal expression, and how the integration of veterans in the arts community can alter the stereotype that in order to participate in the fabric of citizenship, veterans are always in need of healing, a handout, or subsistence.

Williams will moderate the symposium. Panelists will include Dr. Ann Wendle, Shepherd dean of students and a veteran; student veteran Jerry Auville, a psychology major from Petersburg; student veteran James Joyner, a psychology major from Frederick, Maryland; Jim Walker, a local music supporter and retired military officer; and John P. Foley, Ph.D., mental health service IE program officer, Research and Development Program at the Martinsburg VA Medical Center.

An exhibit of veterans’ art curated by Shepherd University students is on display in the Frank Center gallery through March 30, including 10 pieces created by veterans at the Martinsburg VA Center. Dr. Rob Tudor, chair of Shepherd’s Department of Music, said all three events are meant to draw attention to the experiences of military veterans in a more personal way.

“It’s one thing to put art in front of students and say ‘this is art and these are the elements of the art,’” Tudor said. “When someone says ‘this is the story of the artist and this is the story behind the work,’ you can connect on a deeper level, on a soulful level, and understand the motivation behind it. That’s one of the most valuable things about this.”

In addition, Williams will speak to history and political science classes at Shepherd and in local high schools about the Vietnam War and using art as an expression. Bates will give a master class to Shepherd piano students.

USVAP, which was founded by Williams, provides arts supplies and instruments for veterans associated with programs in veteran medical facilities throughout the country, including the Martinsburg VA. National Vietnam War Veterans Day is observed on March 29 to recognize veterans who served in the U.S. military during the Vietnam War.

For more information about Shepherd’s commemoration events, contact Tudor at

Listen to the interview HERE.

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