Photo by Brian Winters
Legendary journalist and war correspondent Dan Rather spoke to members of the press as well as a select number of students for the Lieutenant Colonel John H. Dale Sr. Distinguished Lecture Series Sept. 12.
The series holds lectures every other year to honor the late Lieutenant Colonel John H. Dale who served in World War II and the Korean War. Dale held a graduate degree from Southern Miss and served as a professor of military studies for the university’s ROTC program.
Associate professor Heather Stur, Ph.D., discussed Rather’s career.
“Dan Rather’s award-winning career as a journalist spans over 60 years, during which time he covered pivotal events in U.S. and world history, reporting at events from the assassination of President John F. Kennedy to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan,” Stur said.
Rather spoke on his experience serving as a journalist in print, radio, television and internet. He was the evening anchor of CBS news for 24 years, including for “48 Hours” and “60 Minutes.” Rather worked as a war correspondent in Vietnam, a general journalist and a civil rights reporter.
“Frankly, I love it all [radio, print and television]. I am basically a reporter that got lucky—very very lucky,” Rather said. “I love journalism for a lot of reasons. Not the least of which is like many people, I wanted to do something with my life that was bigger than myself.”
He said that not only did he want to be a part of something bigger than himself, but also contribute to our country.
After the press meeting, Rather spent time with a select group of students, most of whom were graduate students. First-year history graduate student Billy Loper said he enjoyed listening to Rather speak. Loper said what struck him about Rather was detailed and thoughtful with every answer.
“[The speech] was fantastic,” Loper said. “I feel like something that was really unique is that he didn’t treat any question as better than the other. Regardless of the question was, he really spent a lot of time with everybody.”
Rather recently wrote “What Unites Us: Reflections on Patriotism,” which is a collection of essays about the nature of American politics with hopeful reminders that all Americans share some core ideas.
“There are people in political power who seek to exploit our differences, and they just about convinced us that our differences are greater than our agreements,” Rather said. “I disagree with that.”
Stur, who is the coordinator of the 2019 Lieutenant Colonel John H. Dale Sr. Distinguished Lecture Series, said they are excited to have Rather. He is the first journalist who has been invited to lecture. Previous speakers include General David H. Petraeus, former secretary of defense, CIA director Robert M. Gates Ph.D., former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright and U.S. Ambassador to Saudi Arabia Wyche Fowler.
“Journalists are meant to be the eyes and ears of the American public, and Dan Rather comes to us as someone who is there to tell us what was actually happening,” Stur said. “That is a really exciting perspective to give us on all of these various conflicts he was able to cover.”