On March 13 the State Historical Society of Missouri (SHSMO) and the MU Veterans Center are honoring those who have served in the armed forces. Proud to Be: Celebrating Veterans, to be held on the University of Missouri-Columbia campus from 5:00 to 8:00 p.m., will capture your senses as authors read excerpts from a recent anthology of essays, fiction, poetry, and interviews by and about veterans and their families.
The evening will begin at 5:00 p.m. in Memorial Union’s Stotler Lounge III with veterans sharing their stories from Proud to Be: Writing by American Warriors. These important written and oral histories provide an opportunity for retrospection and can create public awareness that is helpful in facing future conflicts, according to Carol W. Fleisher, director of the MU Veterans Center.
“Securing and sharing veteran oral histories is our only hope of people learning from it [war] and not sending our men and women as our first option,” Fleisher said. “War should be the last option. No one goes to war and comes back exactly like they left.”
SHSMO Executive Director Gary Kremer said that is why the Society participates in the Missouri Veterans History Project, which reached the milestone of recording its 500th oral history in 2013.
“The Civil War, Vietnam, the War in Afghanistan—war shapes our history like few other things, no matter which era,” Kremer said. “Without an honest appreciation of what it was really like for our troops and their friends and families back home, how can we expect to heal our wounds and learn from our experiences?”
From 6:00 to 8:00 p.m. there will be a book signing and reception at the SHSMO Research Center-Columbia. Attendees can talk with veterans, view artifacts from the Society’s military collections, and see Thomas Hart Benton’s interpretation of World War II in his Year of Peril series. The first 50 veterans at the signing will receive a free copy of Proud to Be thanks to the Missouri Humanities Council, and tours of the MU Veterans Center will also be available.
Proud to Be: Celebrating Veterans is cosponsored by SHSMO and the MU Veterans Center, in partnership with the Missouri Humanities Council, Southeast Missouri State University Press, the Warrior Arts Alliance, and the MU Army ROTC.