Truman to Host Annual Veterans Day Ceremony

Truman will host the annual Kirksville area Veterans Day ceremony and honor University veterans that have served in the armed forces in a special service taking place at 11 a.m. Nov. 11 at the Ruth Towne Museum and Visitors Center.

The University will also posthumously honor former student, Marine Corps veteran and Medal of Honor recipient, Jedh Barker, at the ceremony. Barker’s brother, John Barker of Lakewood, N.J., and sister, Susan Rilliet of Landing, N.J., will attend the ceremony and present remarks on behalf of the family.

Other highlights of the ceremony include the dedication of the sculpture “The Purple Heart” designed and created by local artist Brandon Crandall. The sculpture will be located outside the entrance to the Towne Museum and compliment a series of plaques that memorialize Truman alumni who gave the ultimate sacrifice in foreign wars.

Lt. Colonel Jim Tenpenny, chair of the Military Science Department, will present remarks about the history of the ROTC program at the University and the impact of Truman alumni in the armed forces.

Jedh Barker enrolled at Truman in the mid-1960s following a standout athletic career at Park Ridge High School in Park Ridge, N.J. He was a member of Maurice “Red” Wade’s Bulldog football squad. In May of 1966, Barker left Truman to enlist in the Marine Corps. He hails from a deeply rooted military family, as his father George served in the Marines in World War II and his brother Warren was awarded a Purple Heart for service in the Korean War.

On Sept. 21, 1967, while on a reconnaissance patrol near Con Thein in South Vietnam, Barker’s unit came under fire. As a Lance Cpl. machine gunner, Barker returned enemy fire. He was wounded twice and continued the battle. Then, an enemy hand grenade dropped among the cluster of wounded Marines. Barker reached out and pulled the grenade underneath him. The subsequent blast horribly wounded Barker and several other Marines. He spent the final moments of his life trying to administer a battle dressing on the wound of a comrade.

For his act of heroism, the Medal of Honor was presented to Barker’s family by Vice President Spiro Agnew in White House ceremonies on Oct. 31, 1969. The Medal of Honor was created during the Civil War and is the highest military decoration presented by the U.S Government to a member of its armed forces. The recipient must have distinguished themselves at the risk of their own life above and beyond the call of duty in action against an enemy of the U.S. A total of 3,471 medals have been awarded since 1861. Barker is the only Truman student to have ever received the Medal of Honor.

A reception will follow the ceremony at the Towne Museum, and the public is invited to attend.