Alabama’s Gold Medal Moment

Alabama’s Gold Medal Moment

This summer, the 2022 World Games are coming to Birmingham. Three alumni explain how “The World’s Largest Sports Party” came together

THE 2022 WORLD GAMES ARE COMING to Birmingham, Ala., and for two weeks in July, the eyes of the world will be watching. Half a million visitors and 3,600 athletes from around the globe are coming to stay, play and soak in the Southern hospitality. It’s no understatement to say that the 2022 World Games could be a watershed moment in Alabama’s history. 

“This is a special moment for our state,” said 2022 World Games CEO Nick Sellers. “The rest of the world—and frankly, the rest of the country outside of the Southeast—thinks about Birmingham and the state of Alabama in black and white, and I’m not talking about race. I’m talking about the old black-and-white images of Birmingham. I cannot think of a better opportunity to help the world reimagine Birmingham as a new medical capital of the South, with a ton of innovation happening, that’s finally embracing its differences in its diversity. We aren’t perfect, but we certainly have come a long way, and people will be amazed at what they’re seeing in the city.” 

One of the planet’s largest sporting events, the World Games are part of the Olympic Movement under the International Olympic Committee. First held in Santa Clara, Calif. in 1981, the games encompass nontraditional and emerging sports from around the globe. 

Sellers was with Alabama Power for nearly 20 years, most recently as vice president of its Mobile, Ala. division, and also chaired the Alabama Sports Council. His time as CEO of the World Games was supposed to be just 18 months before the COVID pandemic added quarantine challenges, supply chain shortages and more.

“It’s truly been the ride of a lifetime for me,” said Sellers. 

The World Games, unlike the Olympics, uses existing arenas and infrastructure to host events, dovetailing with Birmingham’s ongoing urban revitalization. 

Protective Stadium, completed in 2021, will host the World Games’ opening and closing ceremonies, while the new City Walk—a series of beer and wine gardens, dog parks, skate parks and “activation areas”—will connect competition venues with public recreation areas across different neighborhoods, a goal for county officials for decades. 

A reason Birmingham’s bid was so appealing to the International World Games Association (IWGA) was because it was their first event in the U.S. since 1981, and the Magic City is happy to oblige.   

“Just like any great athlete who’s struggled, it’s the ones who keep going that have their chance to compete for a gold medal,” said Sellers. “And that’s really the story of Alabama. Alabama’s certainly had its struggles and failures and setbacks along the way, but this is our ‘medal moment,’ and the more we can create that sense and feeling, the more it becomes reality.”

INVITATIONAL SPORTING EVENTS

Though the International World Games Association selects the World Games’ 60 disciplines, the Organizing Committee is allowed to choose up to five additional sports that appeal to regional audiences or have national ties. These events are unique to the 2022 Birmingham World Games.

Men's Lacrosse

Women’s lacrosse has been an official program sport since 2017, but men’s lacrosse was added this year as well. A major storyline at the 2022 World Games is the Iroquois Nation’s first entrance to competition in lacrosse, a sport they are credited with inventing more than 500 years ago.

Wheelchair Rugby

Unlike the Olympics and the Pan American Games, there is no World Games iteration for athletes with disabilities. Birmingham wanted an international event that was geared specifically for adapted athletes, and is hosting wheelchair rugby in partnership with the Lakeshore Foundation, a world-class rehabilitation hospital and an official U.S. Olympic and Paralympic training site.

Duathlon

Though events in the Olympics aren’t included in the World Games, duathlon (run-bike-run) was added because Birmingham is a big running community. It replaces the more common triathlon (swim-bike-run).

Wushu

For the fifth invitational event, the Organizing Committee continued the tradition of setting up the transition to the next host city. Chengdu, China will host the 2025 World Games, and one of Asia’s fastest-growing sports, the mixed martial arts discipline wushu, was added to help introduce western audiences and build excitement for the future. 

THE ROAD TO BIRMINGHAM began at the 2013 World Games in Cali, Colombia, where a contingent was invited to attend and later submit hosting bids for what was, at the time, the 2021 World Games. 

Primarily data related, the proposal covered Birmingham’s history, its summer climate and the contingent’s overarching vision for the games. It totaled 360 pages. When the Birmingham contingent needed someone to coordinate the various stages and elements of the process, they turned to Steve Mistrot ’97. 

Born and raised in Birmingham, Mistrot worked in television after graduating from Auburn, eventually making his way to sports operation for major events like the 1998 Winter Olympics in Nagano, Japan. After returning to Birmingham with his family, he assumed his days of international sports events were behind him—until the World Games came along. 

In January 2015 at Lausanne, Switzerland—home of the International Olympic Committee—Birmingham was selected over Lima, Peru, and Ufa, Russia. That’s when the real work began. 

As vice president of sport for the World Games Organizing Committee, Mistrot’s first task was getting to know each of the 37 unique sports federations who oversee various “disciplines,” or sporting events. Each federation applies to the IWGA, which evaluates disciplines for audience response, athlete variety and novelty or excitement. 

Mabel Etchison Headshot

“What I value most out of all the different events that I’ve worked on, is how you get different input from different perspectives. It seems like it’s a recipe for conflict, but it’s really a recipe for greater success.”

Sumo wrestling, for example, is one discipline within the Martial Arts Federation, but contains multiple weight classes in both men’s and women’s divisions. Roller sports and gymnastics each have six or seven disciplines alone. From 34 selected federations come 60 individual competitions spread out across 25 venues. From the types of venues to the specialized equipment, it’s taken years of planning. 

With each approaching day, the granular details of every event are magnified. All the planning to this point has been organizing the functional areas from the top down—identifying venues and understanding each sport. Now that details are being finalized, event and venue prep are coming together as one. 

“Any event is an organism with many parts,” said Mistrot. “What I value most out of all the different events that I’ve worked on, is how you get different input from different perspectives. It seems like it’s a recipe for conflict, but it’s really a recipe for greater success. You take the best of everybody’s ideas and combine it into a solution. It’s a challenge, and it forces you to establish really strong relationships. You come out of these events with people that you stay in touch with for life, so it’s very rewarding.” 

MEET VULCAN AND VESTA

When visitors arrive this summer, the first thing many will see are the mascots “Vulcan” and “Vesta,” wearing outfits designed by Auburn alumna Mariah Gullatte ’19.

Vesta was created specifically for the 2022 World Games, holding the Olympic Torch and wearing a dress that reimagines the World Games logo along the hemline.

Vulcan, the symbol of Birmingham and the largest iron sculpture in the world, was an obvious mascot. He’s also known for “mooning” the city’s east side. “That was a discussion topic—‘to cover’ or ‘not to cover,’” said Gullate.

The College of Human Sciences graduate spent almost two years developing their outfits with the organizing committee. When Vulcan and Vesta were finally introduced wearing her clothes in July 2021, it was both nerve wracking and exciting.

After earning her master’s in hospitality management in August 2021, Gullate opened her online boutique, Princess Closet Designs, where she will continue creating custom garments and new outfit collections. Though she lives in Huntsville, she already plans to attend the World Games and looks forward to seeing Vulcan and Vesta mingle with the thousands of visitors.

“That’s the part I’m looking forward to the most, getting to see other people meet them and people interact with them and their outfits. It’s super rewarding to see something you worked so hard on come to life.”

IN THE 10 DAYS OF THE 2022 WORLD GAMES an estimated half-million or more people will arrive in Birmingham. To run everything smoothly, 3,300 volunteers—including 250 international volunteers—have been training for months. Matt Gaines ’86, head of volunteer training, oversees them all. 

A former engineer with Alabama Power, Gaines designed high-voltage electrical switchgear for nuclear power plants.
When he got tired of that, he went to Southwestern Baptist Seminary, got a master’s in music and worked in churches, schools and nonprofits around the world.

“It’s like we’re building an airplane in midflight—that’s what it feels like,” said Gaines. “I will always be grateful for my mechanical engineering degree from Auburn, because it taught me how to think and solve problems. In engineering, you learn to put a control volume around the situation to study everything coming in and out to know how to solve the problem. I use that in every part of my life.”

From preparing arenas and equipment to directing guests around town, volunteers will play an incredibly important role at the World Games. 

Training began months ago, covering everything from communications exercises, to the history of Birmingham and the World Games, to etiquette training for various cultural differences volunteers may encounter. They also took disability and inclusion training from the Lakeshore Foundation to help prepare in advance for the wheelchair rugby event. Volunteers were even given training on how to notice and report human trafficking, a major issue at large events, said Gaines. 

Mabel Etchison Headshot

“I will always be grateful for my mechanical engineering degree from Auburn, because it taught me how to think and solve problems.”

Another major hurdle is communicating with fans and athletes from more than 100 countries who speak upwards
of 26 different languages.

Designated “live speaker” volunteers for five primary languages—French, German, Spanish, Chinese and Japanese—will provide basic fluency, while the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) is providing software that instantly connects to 100 different native speakers around the world in a virtual, face-to-face format.

Medical volunteers at UAB are also staffing the events to attend to any potential medical emergencies, whether on the field or off.

The only job duty not handled by volunteers will be security. Homeland Security designated the World Games as a Special Event Assessment Rating (SEAR) of 1 for “significant events with national and/or international importance that require extensive federal interagency support,” the same designation as presidential inaugurations. In addition to Birmingham police, the FBI, Army Rangers and others will provide security during the games.

But it’s not just the organizing committee rising to the moment—schools are using education models to teach students about the sports as well.

In a world rife with war, disease, misinformation and hostility, this could be just the thing to bring it together again.

“Things like this connect us in a world that desperately needs connection,” said Gaines. “I believe this event will help change the world for the better.”

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Erica Augello ’04: Empowering mom and lawyer

Erica Augello ’04: Empowering mom and lawyer

Family and children are a part of her life—and her practice

Erica Augello Photo - Mom and Lawyer

While Erica Augello ‘04 received her undergraduate degree in Science and Business Administration, she wasn’t satisfied with her career and went on to find her professional calling as a lawyer. “At different points in my life I was presented with law school, but I never felt I was mature enough or prepared enough to attend,” she said. “After having real-world experience, I decided in was time.”

Graduating from Stetson University College of Law and now specializes in municipal civil litigation defense and municipal representation.

Augello seeks out cases implicating “civil rights and issues involving both the United States and Florida Constitutions,” such as “excessive force, false arrest, deliberate indifference, equal protection and right to privacy.”

As a lawyer, her work heavily relies on case research and in-depth knowledge of the law. “On any given day I can have a city commission meeting, prosecute a code enforcement violation, depose a witness, argue a motion at a hearing, or prepare for trial,” she said.

Raised in a military family, Augello constantly moved throughout her childhood and had trouble establishing roots. Once at Auburn, though, she said that she was given a family that moved with her no matter where she went.

“I have travelled overseas and heard ‘War Eagle’ while walking down the street,” said Augello. “The lessons I learned at Auburn, both inside and outside the classroom, have allowed me to take chances and know that no matter where I end up, I will undoubtedly be surrounded by the Auburn family.”

Although Augello’s life is now fast-paced and moving, she enjoyed Auburn’s quaint and welcoming nature. “It was a small town without being small minded. No matter how much the campus changes, it always feels like coming home,” she said.

She has since started her own family with her husband and young daughter. While it is difficult to balance personal and professional life, she makes it a priority and admires other women in her career who do the same. Her daughter, who “is just starting life and has the potential to change the world” inspires Augello. As she moves forward, she aspires to be her firm’s first female partner since they were first established 40 years ago.

“I have to work harder and prove myself to others in my field, whereas my male colleagues do not. However, that hard work speaks volumes, regardless of gender. While it’s in the back of my mind, I find that is doesn’t impede my goals or ability to achieve future success.”

Setting the Unexpected

Setting the Unexpected

Theme park designer Brian Morrow ‘97 unleashed his creativity to win HGTV’s “Table Wars”

If you need a dream brought to life, Brian Morrow is your guy. A theme park designer with more than 25 years of experience and owner/creative principal of B Morrow Productions, his job is making awe-inspiring fantasies a reality.

But he was challenged like never before as a contestant on HGTV’s “Table Wars,” where competitors designed immersive ensembles for upscale dinner parties. The show required him to draw on every facet of his career, constantly upping the ante while wowing celebrity judges Martha Stewart and Chris Hessney.

But when the timers stopped and the last fork was laid, Morrow was declared the first-ever “Table Wars” champion. While the title (and the $50,000 prize) are great, it was the experience itself he enjoyed most.

“I went on ‘Table Wars’ to reignite my level of passion for design,” said Morrow from his office in Orlando, Fla. “I’ve had my own business for many years. I’ve been in corporate America and theme parks for many, many years, [but] it’s been a long time since I’ve been challenged in that way. I said in one of the episodes it’s like I reconnected with my 27-year-old self.”

Brian Morrow overseeing construction of Wave Breaker at SeaWorld San Antonio, North America’s only jet-ski style coaster.  

Entrance to Antarctica: Empire of the Penguin, designed by B Morrow Productions for SeaWorld Orlando.  

Morrow and a B Morrow Productions team member beside Submarine Quest at SeaWorld San Diego.

Storytelling comes naturally to Morrow. As a kid building model trains in his Tennessee basement, he spent more time designing the surrounding landscape than the trains themselves. Though he now uses industry terms like “environmental design” to describe his methods, back then he already understood how to create an immersive atmosphere. When he eventually coupled that with his engineering background, it became a potent combination.

A mechanical engineering major at Auburn, Morrow wanted to work in the theme park industry despite hearing there were no internships available. He cold-called companies and took alternating school quarters off to get hands-on experience. Days after earning his degree—in civil engineering—he was in Orlando, Fla. looking for work and holding a resume to back it up.

Over the next two decades he would do all manner of theme park engineering, including revamping the legendary “Big Bad Wolf” roller coaster at Busch Gardens Virginia with the first vertical drop in North America—an innovation that required a hair-raising test ride in a German shipyard.

“They didn’t have seatbelts, so they strapped us in with rope tied around our waist,” Morrow laughed. “It was the scariest thing I’ve ever done. I was like this thing could all go wrong in a minute, but you know it was really incredible. And, because our ride was inside and in the dark, we blindfolded ourselves and rode it again.”

“I learned that I can really trust my gut on what I’m capable of doing.”

Since 2018, B Morrow Productions has overseen projects for location-based entertainment around the country, including décor and productions for luxury hotels, master planning for theme parks and all types of detailed experiential design.

But when he auditioned for “Table Wars,” Morrow sought a new challenge. Across six episodes, contestants were pushed to create larger, more intricate creations, each with their own unique challenges. They also had to master precise table settings down to the centimeter, a challenge none of them were prepared for.

But while the engineer was up against interior designers, master florists and wedding planners, Morrow was fearless in envisioning—and ultimately executing—concepts that wowed judges and guests.

Morrow explains the details of his ‘80s-themed table setting—a mall’s food court— to host Tamera Mowry Housley (left) and judges Chris Hessney and Martha Stewart.

The setting that won HGTV’s “Table Wars,” a fairytale castle complete with ruins, a CGI dragon and “dragon-egg terrariums” as take-home gifts.

Morrow with the final two contestants of “Table Wars, Jenevieve Penk (center) and Carlton Lee Jr.

“I was one of the leaders of the pack building bigger things, more complicated things, and I’m comfortable doing that because when I was in Auburn, we learned how to hand-draft. I could very quickly create loose construction drawings that the carpenters could then use.”

An undeniable factor in Morrow’s success was his attention to detail. Other contestants struggled to explain their designs, but he focused on ideas that could be understood immediately. Once he figured out where the cameras and judges would view his installation, he learned how to build for maximum visual effect.

For the final challenge, contestants had to create a fantasy-themed dinner for 16 that had to include an interactive feature and take-home gifts for guests. Morrow built massive castle ruins around the dinner table that were painted to look stunningly authentic. A smoke-breathing CGI dragon fluttered outside a gothic-style window and “dragon eggs” inside Mason jar terrariums propelled him to victory.

When he emerged from the show “bubble,” Morrow had a new appreciation—not only for the scope of his chosen profession, but for the talent and experience he grew along the way.

“I think I learned that I can really trust my gut on what I’m capable of doing—I still have those chops to do big, bold things that people might not be expecting me to do,” said Morrow. “It reinvigorated that fire of invention and creativity in me.”

Design your own dinner party

Use what you have at home

“Don’t go buy a bunch of things and put it all together, lay out the stuff you could potentially use and then figure out your visual story.”

Don't get hung up on flatware

“My big trick I do to make life easy is put all the cutlery in the mason jar and let and people take what they want.”

look at what others are doing

“Watch and learn tricks and just copy people, and then get inspiration and do your own thing.”

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Watching What You Eat

Watching What You Eat

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From regulations to recalls, Arma N. White ’04 monitors the nation’s health

Arma N. White alumni story

How often do you wonder if your store-bought food was grown properly? Or if your makeup contains any harmful chemicals?

We’ve come to expect that stores are stocked with quality products from reliable sources, but that isn’t by accident. An entire industry of professionals is working to protect ordinary consumers from potentially dangerous products.

Arma N. White ’04, a consumer safety officer (microbiology) in the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition’s (CFSAN) Office of Compliance, is one of those professionals. Every day, White plays detective, scientist, instructor and security guard, all in the name of protecting your next meal or mascara.

“Our group’s main goal is to reduce foodborne illness by improving food safety,” said White from her office in Washington, D.C. “We want you to be able to go out, purchase food and consume it and you not get sick. You can follow our lead and have that assurance from the FDA that we’re ensuring your food supply is safe.”

Jay Trumball speaking with microphone in hand

The FDA reviews millions of products every day to ensure there are no secrets, surprises or side effects waiting for customers on the shelves of their local stores.

White compares the sprawling FDA campus where she works to Auburn University—spread out across the massive compound are specialized centers for drugs, food, biologics, devices, veterinary medicine, tobacco and more, with thousands of employees working in each area.

CFSAN is responsible for promoting and protecting the public’s health by ensuring that the nation’s food supply, dietary supplements and cosmetic products are sanitary, wholesome and honestly labeled. International and domestic products must go through a strict vetting process before making it onto store shelves.

Whether instructing farmers and manufacturers how to better protect their crops or products (and avoid federal punishment) or tracking down a spreading virus to its source, White understands the gravity of every new reported outbreak.

“[What] was eye opening to realize was how many people actually get sick from consuming food and they don’t report it. A lot of times when you get sick, you wouldn’t necessarily go to the doctor. You may just say ‘Oh, I have a stomach bug,’ and you just forget about it without realizing how many actually were sick from that product.”

White excelled in science and math as a student but didn’t know where her career path would lead. That changed when she took a class at Auburn in food microbiology under Thomas McCaskey.

“He was an extraordinary professor and would always share these personal, vivid stories that you can still remember years later,” recalled White. “That’s where I first fell in love with food science.”

One of White’s first jobs after graduation was as a state health inspector in her hometown of LaGrange, Ga., where she took full control of the food program because “nobody really had an interest in it.” She taught local restaurants basic food safety practices and incentivized them to comply by publishing their health scores in local newspapers.

Once word of her work spread, the rest of the state took notice. She started teaching classes outside of LaGrange and was asked to help collect epidemiological information for foodborne outbreaks and train other health inspectors. Looking to continue her work in a bigger city, White landed her “dream job” at the FDA a decade ago and has grown to love her work even more today.

In 2020, she worked on multiple foodborne outbreaks involving e. coli, salmonella and listeria. If a product suddenly triggers an outbreak, like romaine lettuce has in the past, the FDA works with the Center for Disease Control and the states to identify the source and remove the contaminated product.

In one instance, she helped the FDA recall four million pounds of a product contaminated with salmonella, one of their largest seizures ever.

If a manufacturer has been associated with an outbreak or has had adulterated products in the past, they must show evidence that they’ve overcome the issue and done corrective actions and testing. The FDA sends investigators (like White, on occasion) out to farms and manufacturers around the country to inspect the facilities and determine their compliance with applicable laws and regulations.

Sometimes the steps to protect the food are as simple as putting up barriers to keep out animals or ensuring the use of proper handwashing facilities on farms, but ultimately it is the producer’s responsibility to correct the issue. “We give the facility the opportunity to [take] corrective actions after the inspection and we evaluate data to determine if it appears to be adequate. We can also take enforcement actions like a public warning letter, regulatory meeting or recall. Or it could be something more serious—an injunction, civil money penalty, product seizure or suspension of the firm’s registration.”

It’s a demanding job that sometimes takes 12-hour workdays, but White looks forward to the challenge.

“This is where I’m supposed to be. It doesn’t matter if there are long hours, I just enjoy the work and protecting the public. Everybody is affected by food because we all must eat to stay alive. It’s very rewarding to be in a career that’s always evolving, and to know that you protected your friends and family, and people that you haven’t even met.”

Rep. Trumbull, head of the House Appropriations Committee, and Speaker of the Florida House Chris Sprowls meet to wrap up the 2021 legislative session while Sprowls's son, Conrad (5), looks on.

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80 Years of Infamy: Pearl Harbor and Auburn’s Turning Point

80 Years of Infamy: Pearl Harbor and Auburn’s Turning Point

An alumnus’ life mirrors the changes that Auburn—and the nation—underwent because of WWII

Pearl Harbor at Langdon Hall

Students gathered outside on the steps of Langdon Hall to hear the emergency
news broadcast of the attack on Pearl Harbor.

ALABAMA POLYTECHNIC INSTITUTE (API) on Dec. 6, 1941 was much the same as it had been for decades—season after season of football games, dances and generations-old student traditions—but on the following morning, the Plains’ rural tranquility would change forever.

Just weeks before Christmas break, students crowded the steps of Langdon Hall, listening to the newsflash that rocked the nation: the Empire of Japan had launched a surprise attack on the U.S. Naval base at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. After resisting involvement in the conflict that was slowly engulfing the rest of the world, the U.S. was now unquestionably at war.

The five years that immediately followed that day would be a watershed moment in the history of Auburn University, profoundly altering everything from the size of the student body to the curriculum and athletic program. David Gardiner ’41 was one of many Auburn alumni who fought in the war, and whose life would be profoundly changed by it.

Gardiner was born into poverty in Farley, Ala., the second of six children. He was 11 when the Great Depression began, and 15 when his father died. As the eldest son, he helped raise his younger brothers and sisters and kept his family afloat.

“You go through things like that, you learn hard work,” said Cliff Gardiner, associate dean for the college of science and mathematics at Augusta University and David’s second son. “You learn lessons of durability and resilience, and not complaining—my father was never a complainer.”

David Gardiner entered API as an agriculture major, intending to graduate and return to his family farm. In his spare time, he played baseball but, conspicuously, also participated in API’s Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) program at a time when enlistment was not compulsory. News of Nazi Germany’s invasion of Europe had undoubtedly reached Auburn by then, but Gardiner signed up anyway.

“He knew the world was at war, and he chose to enroll in ROTC,” said Cliff. “Given the patriotism of the time, he may have done it because he believed that was his duty. He understood duty extremely well.”

Gardiner was deployed to Hawaii as a member of an antiaircraft barrage balloon unit, a relatively easy assignment. That changed in 1944. As a second lieutenant in the Army, Gardiner was appointed commander of an anti-aircraft battery and sent across the Pacific to liberate the Philippines from the Japanese. The Filipino people suffered horrific atrocities after falling under enemy occupation in 1942, and welcomed the allied Filipino-U.S. forces as liberators.

“I know that his unit got credit for at least one kill of a Japanese bomber,” recalled Cliff. “But I’m sure that his men were probably under attack multiple times. He never talked about that, except for the triumph of getting credit for a kill shot.”

Cliff still has the 40-millimeter shell casing his father brought back, the same kind used to shoot down enemy aircraft.

After the Philippines, Gardiner went ashore at the Battle of Okinawa and remained there until Japan formally surrendered on Sept. 2, 1945. For his service he was awarded two Bronze Stars and a Philippines Liberation Ribbon. But none of that mattered to him. In fact, said his son, he never heard his father mention any service medals. “I got to come home,” he told his son. “That’s what [victory] meant to me.”

 At the time, President Luther Duncan estimated that around 800 veterans would enroll at Auburn through the G.I. Bill. Instead, 1,575 registered in the winter quarter of 1946 alone. At its peak in 1948-49, more than 9,000 veterans were attending Auburn. Because Auburn was segregated at the time, the GI Bill did not fix diversity issues, but the veterans’ arrival would transform everything from student housing and class schedules to campus dining and dress codes. The influx of battle-tested adult men would reshape collegiate athletics across the country.

For alumni like Clarence “Pappy” Boynton ’48, who came to Auburn as a veteran, the war had created a new generation of students. “It gave me added responsibility and a new sense of purpose,” said Boynton, now 101. “The military regimen instilled me with discipline, the value of depending on your fellow servicemen, family and friends and an ever-greater commitment to my country while at war.”

In the years that followed the war, Gardiner became a cotton marketing specialist for the USDA and eventually retired in 1983 as superintendent of the Cotton Division for Georgia. Though he lived to the ripe age of 102, he never spoke out for armed conflict. And to Cliff ’s surprise, he never judged the young people who protested against serving.

Seventy-four years after the war ended, on his 100th birthday, Gardiner was interviewed by television reporters at the Georgia War Veterans Home in Augusta, Ga. where he lived. They asked him what he thought of the conflict all these years later.

 “War is a waste of time,” Gardiner sighed.
“People should learn to get along.”