Law Day speaker reminds local bar U.S. history 'must be told'

By David Yates | May 5, 2008

Gerald Treece, dean of the South Texas College of Law, gave the keynote address at the Law Day event May 2.

While U.S. Congressional mandates force teachers to ritually grind math and science into students' diets in preparation for tests designed to leave no child behind, one university vice presidents says another crucial subject is regrettably forgotten: history.

Speaking on the topic The Rule of Law: Foundation for Communities of Opportunity & Equity, T. Gerald Treece, associate dean and vice president of the South Texas College of Law in Houston, addressed hundreds of lawyers gathered at the Jefferson County Courthouse for the Annual Law Day Ceremony on May 2, reminding them all that "the history of this country is a story to be told."

"The great experiment of the U.S. Constitution … was brought on by the spirit of the idea that we no longer need kings ordained by God to rule … but rather a rule of law," Treece said. "All of us have to answer to the rule of law."

A law professor since 1978, perhaps Treece couldn't help but lecture to the distinguished crowd, telling every person in the room that it was their responsibility as educated lawyers to share the rich history of America with their children, nieces and nephews.

"(With more focus on math and science), the lack of teaching of history and government is getting worse every year," Treece said, adding that today's educators put very little emphasis on history – unconsciously overlooking the "incredible sacrifices" of those who fought for their nation.

"This is a Law Day (worthy speech), because we are the keepers of the fallen's sacrifice," Treece added.

Dean Treece obtained his doctorate of jurisprudence with honors from the University of Houston in 1969. Upon graduation, he served in Vietnam as an officer in the U.S. Army, receiving the Silver Star, Bronze Star, two Purple Hearts, and the South Vietnam Commendation Medal, according to the South Texas Web site.

When his military service ended, he began his legal career as a briefing attorney for the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals, then joined the faculty at Pepperdine University School of Law in California. In 1978, Dean Treece became a member of the faculty at South Texas.

Growing up, Treece said he was blessed with passionate teachers who inspired him to immerse himself in U.S. history, but now the subject is wrongly disregarded by today's educators, which he said denies youth from discovering a sense of national pride.

"Don't put young people down for not knowing (our nation's) history; it's not their fault," Treece said. "If our young people aren't learning, we have to teach them."

Most of the founding fathers believed America was inspired by a supreme being, Treece said. "(Our children) must be made aware of the divine blessings that have been on our nation since the beginning."

Law Day was established in 1958 by President Dwight D. Eisenhower "to strengthen our great heritage of liberty, justice, and equality under the law," the American Bar Association Web site states.

The local Law Day activities were sponsored by the Jefferson County Bar Association and the Jefferson County Young Lawyers Association.

In addition to the keynote address by Treece, the May 2 event included the announcement of new officers for the JCBA and JCYLA as well as awards for Outstanding Young Lawyer, Blackstone Award, Liberty Bell Award, Professionalism Award and many others. Following the awards, the Black Robe Luncheon honoring the judiciary was sponsored by the JCYLA at the Neches Room on Crockett Street.

That evening a barbecue cook-off and JCYLA softball tournament were held at the Brad Club in Nederland. The barbecue judging was held on Saturday, followed by a family picnic.

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