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Cal alumni from "The War Classes" to the 1990s to gather at UC Berkeley for homecoming and parents weekend
24 September 2001

By José Rodríguez

Berkeley - Students at the University of California, Berkeley - most of whom have never faced the prospect of war - will have a rare opportunity to meet UC Berkeley alumni who know the subject well, and from a variety of perspectives, this coming weekend.

From Sept. 28-30, alumni from the World War II, Korean War and Vietnam War eras will be gathering on campus to celebrate reunions and reconnect with the UC Berkeley community. The events are part of the annual Cal Homecoming & Parents Weekend, which is expected to draw some 4,000 alumni, parents, students and friends. Many parents will be visiting their children for the first time since the school year began, and 13 classes will hold reunions.

"The War Classes" is the term used for alumni who graduated in 1945, 1946 and 1947. Many of them came back to college as veterans, returning to complete an education interrupted by the United States' entrance into World War II after Pearl Harbor. Because of their common experience, the classes hold their reunions together.

This year, they will host a luncheon on Friday at 11 a.m. on the Doe Library terrace. The terrace overlooks Memorial Glade and Reflecting Pool, which were dedicated in 1998 to the memory of alumni who served or lost their lives in World War II. Last week, 12,000 students, faculty and staff gathered there for a memorial service for victims of the recent terrorist attacks.

The Class of 1951 is returning to campus to celebrate its 50th reunion - a gala occasion that will also include moments of somber remembrance. The ROTC Classes of 1951 will dedicate a monument on Saturday at 11:30 a.m. that commemorates classmates lost in the Korean War. The monument has been erected along the pathway between Alumni House and Zellerbach Hall.

The Free Speech Movement and the Vietnam War, as well as current events, will doubtless be topics of discussion when the classes of 1966 and 1971 reconvene on campus.

The class of 1966 will hold a breakfast on Saturday morning, followed by a lecture in Wheeler Auditorium. Michael Nacht, professor and dean of the Richard & Rhoda Goldman School of Public Policy, will discuss "The Bush Administration's Foreign Policy: Strategy and Politics" at 9 a.m.

The Class of 1971 also has planned a breakfast and lecture for Saturday. Their speaker will be renowned anthropologist Alan Dundes, a UC Berkeley professor who will talk about "Folk Humor as a Mirror of Society."

While Cal Homecoming & Parents Weekend will include traditional festivities, such as a rally, football game and the singing of "Hail to California," seminars by the faculty are one of the most popular features of the event. Although professors planned their lectures some time ago, several, like Nacht, chose topics pertinent to recent national events.

Orville Schell, dean of the Graduate School of Journalism, will discuss "The State of the American Media" on Friday, from 9:30-10:30 a.m., in 370 Dwinelle Hall.

Political science professor Kiren Aziz Chaudry will talk about "The Gulf War and the Realignment of the Arab Middle East" on Friday, from 3:30-4:30 p.m., in 370 Dwinelle Hall.

Chancellor Robert M. Berdahl will moderate a panel discussion on "Multiculturalism at Cal" on Saturday, from 12:30-1:30 p.m., in Wheeler Auditorium. Panelists will address the campus's efforts to ensure diversity; campus life today for students and faculty of color; and what alumni, parents and students can do to make a difference.

In addressing the campus at last week's memorial service, Berdahl reflected on the role of the university in troubled times and the need for UC Berkeley's extended community to stay in touch. "Let those of us who hold the candle of learning in our hands, hold firm in the vigil for freedom and reasoned discourse," he said.

Cal Homecoming & Parents Weekend is an annual Cal family celebration for alumni, parents, students and friends. Registration is still open. For complete details, visit the Homecoming Web site at or call 888/UNIV-CAL.