“Britain will walk every step of the way, every day, with America, until the completion of this war is over and terrorism is put to an end.” So said former Great Britain Prime Minister John Major at Union University’s " />
JACKSON, Tenn. – Oct. 31, 2001–
So said former Great Britain Prime Minister John Major at Union University’s Fifth Annual Scholarship Banquet, during his remarks made at the Carl Perkins Civic Center, Tuesday evening, Oct. 30. The crowd, which according to organizers, neared 1500 people, responded with a spontaneous round of applause, causing Major to pause for almost a full minute before continuing. The fourth world leader to visit West Tennessee at the invitation of Union, Major spoke on his own country’s experience with terrorism during the Gulf War as well as with the ongoing clashes with the IRA.
In 1991, during his seven-year term as Prime Minister, Major was chairing a meeting of the Gulf War Cabinet when 10 Downing Street was attacked by terrorist missiles. Major resolved to proceed with initiating the Northern Ireland Peace Process and established counter-terrorism measures to protect the UK mainland from further attack. Working closely with President Bush and the Gulf coalition partners, Major presided over anti-terrorist protection mechanisms and instigated discussion at G7 Summits for coordinated action against the spread of international terrorism.
Major said that there are three choices when it comes to handling terrorism. “You can ignore it and hope it goes away, you can ignore terrorism and hope it hits someone else, or you can confront it,” said Major.
“This is a war that must be won as much in the mind of the public around the world as well as the action,” said Major, pointing out that America must be cautious in its building of the wide coalition that has formed up to this point.
Union student Debbie Garland from Belfast, Ireland visits with John Major before the banquet.
“It will be a continuing battle to keep people behind us,” Major explained, stating that it will much harder for people with starving stomachs and dying children to rally with the world’s strongest, wealthiest and most powerful nation.
With regards on what to do with Osama bin Laden, Major cautioned that America will have to think very hard on the results and outcomes of what may happen. Should the terrorist remain free, there is a danger that he may become a folk hero. Should bin Laden be killed, he would become a martyr and “truth would be sacrificed to legend.”
“And what if we catch him and bring him to trial,” asked Major. “Where would it be held? What further acts of terrorism would be carried out in order to have him released?”
More than $300,000 was raised benefiting student scholarships for the evening. Lead sponsors for the event included BancorpSouth and Mr. and Mrs. Carl Kirkland. Premier sponsors included Mr. and Mrs. Chip Christian, Mr. and Mrs. Benny Fesmire, First Bank, Mr. and Mrs. Jack Holmes, Porter Cable/Delta, Union Planters Bank, and White Investments, L.L.C., Roy White, President & C.E.O.
The Scholarship Banquet is supported by Union's Board of Presidential Associates for the purpose of raising funds to provide scholarships. More than 80% of all Union students receive some type of financial assistance from the university.
While in Jackson, Major stopped by the university’s campus and met with several student leaders including an international student from Belfast, Ireland. Major’s first visit to the state of Tennessee, previous speakers include Margaret Thatcher, Colin Powell and Mikhail Gorbachev.
Sara B. Horn,