Did You Know? American Indian Month Information
Did you know the name plaques of the students serving in WWII was the only thing to survive the 1973 fire when Old Main burned on the campus of what is currently UNC Pembroke.
Two years before World War II ended, the Pembroke State College for Indians was left almost empty as more than 100 hundred enlisted reserve college students were called up to active duty. They were immediately sent to Fayetteville on the train on Good Friday, April 23, 1943.
Their bravery is marked by the World War II Service Roll Memorial inside the Old Main Foyer on the campus of UNC Pembroke. This memorial graced the walls inside the building for 37 years before Old Main burned in 1973. To the surprise of many, the memorials didn’t burn, but survived the fire with only soot on them. However it destroyed Old Main. Upon restoration of the building, the plaques were returned to their proper place. The painted wooden memorial has told the story of these brave men for more than 80 years.
Immediately after the men were called to service on that Good Friday, a campus Art Class Project began to construct the service roll. The remaining student body on campus consisted mostly of women. According to information by Ms. Ira Lee Thomas Lowry (Class of ’45), the letters for the memorial were painted by Sadie Ray Locklear, (Class of ‘45).
There was an auditorium in the original Old Main building, which was eventually named Memorial Auditorium in memory of the Pembroke State College for Indians Students and Faculty who served their country in World War I, World War II and the Korean conflict.
The wooden plaques include the names of (4) men who were killed in action. These included Marvin Chavis, Wade Lowry, James Swett and Verl Thompson.
This generation is considered by many the “Greatest Generation” in our nation’s history. These men truly gave of themselves in military service, but also returned home to do their part for their Lumbee Community. The more than 150 college students memorialized include Venus Brooks, Adolph Dial, Danford Dial, James Arthur Jones, Curt Locklear, Vincent Lowry, Cleo Maynor and Vernon Thompson, just to name a few. Celebrating American Indian Heritage Month!
For more information or to see the full list of names on this WW II Memorial, visit Old Main on the campus of UNC Pembroke.