Monday, February 12, 2018

Exploring Texas Workshop Series

On Monday and Tuesday, February 5 and 6, the Texas State Historical Association and the Aldine ISD presented an event for Texas History teachers in the Exploring Texas Workshop Series. This "Encountering Texas History Conference" explored the period 1900 to the present. Charles Nugent, TSHA Adult Program Manager, and M.K. Marshall, K-12 Program Manager, put together a varied program which featured 30 session possibilities for attendees. Numerous breakout sessions covered historical context, teaching strategies, and resources. A number of vendors, from book publishers to the Texas Historical Commission to the Bryan Museum of Galveston, were present, offering door prizes during a reception at the end of the first day.

Charles Nugent and M.K. Marshall at the registration table

More than 60 fourth-grade and seventh-grade Texas history teachers attended the conference. Two teachers from Canyon in the Panhandle had found a TSHA workshop in their area so fruitful that they flew to Houston for this event.


I was asked to address the group on Tuesday morning, from 8:30 to 10:00, on Texas in World War II. The Second World War, of course, was the biggest and most important event of the 20th century. Texas played a key role in America's war effort, from manpower (830,000 Texans, including 12,000 women, served in the military) to combat exploits (36 Texans earned the Medal of Honor, including Audie Murphy - America's most decorated soldier - and submarine commander Sam Dealey - America's most decorated sailor) to the development of the world's largest petrochemical industry. Indeed, Texas oil production fueled the Allied war machine. Upper level leadership included such Texas natives as Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower, Supreme Commander of Allied Forces in Europe, Admiral Chester Numitz, Naval Commander of the Pacific, Gen. Ira Eaker, commander of the 8th Air Force in Europe, and Gen. Claire Chennault, founder of the famed Flying Tigers, as well as Col. Oveta Culp Hobby, commander of the Women's Army Corps . More than 150 generals and 12 admirals were from Texas. Texas A&M College provided more than 20,000 fighting men, including seven Medal of Honor winners. More than 23,000 Texans died from military action, including 900 Aggies. Texas was America's largest training field, with 80 bases developing 20 combat divisions and 1.5 million soldiers, aviators, and sailors. With shipyards and airplane manufacturers and munitions plants, Texas played a significant part in the miracles of war production achieved by American industry.

I brought a number of WW II artifacts to demonstrate classroom possibilities to the teachers, who examined these items carefully at the end of my presentation. These teachers were an unusually responsive audience, and I had a most enjoyable and, I hope, productive session with them.

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