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Don Patton, head of the Dr. Harold C. Deutsch World War II History Roundtable, explains why his program features veterans as speakers:
"If you look at the successes of Stephen Ambrose in Citizen Soldiers, and of so many of the prominent writers, they have interwoven the events of history with the reflections of people."
The Roundtable is the namesake of a renowned University of Minnesota WWII historian. The late Dr. Deutsch also taught at the U.S. Army War College, Carlisle, Pa., in 1984-1985, when Patton studied there. They both returned to Minnesota, and Dr. Deutsch challenged Patton to set up a WWII history group.
"I was fortunate in finding lots of speakers and lots of volunteers, so that was the start," Patton recalls.
Since it began in 1987, the Roundtable has increasingly used veteran-speakers. The veterans participation has benefited both the Roundtable and, in unexpected ways, the veterans themselves.
Patton says their talks have helped attract the Roundtable's proliferating crowds. He remembers that only 20 people attended the first meeting, held at VFW Post 1296, Bloomington, Minn. Thirteen years later, up to 450 jam an auditorium at Ft. Snelling in Minneapolis, for the meetings.
Until this year, the Roundtable met the second Thursday of every month from October through May; in 1999, Patton added a September session.
Herb Kohnke, who spoke at the Dec. 9, …