History professors discuss the history and meaning, as part of the many celebrations of Veterans Day

American soldiers who fought for their country were remembered yesterday during commemorations held by the Sam Houston Memorial Museum and the Sam Houston State University history department. Huntsville residents had the opportunity to attend two Veterans Day ceremonies.The first was a presentation during the morning, given by Dr. Robert Bruce, SHSU history professor. Bruce gave a speech at the Gillaspie Memorial Marker across the street from the Oakwood Ceremony where General Sam Houston was buried.”The Gillaspie marker commemorates Civil War veterans who came from Huntsville to fight,” said Dr. Pat Nolan, curator at Sam Houston Memorial Museum.Bruce has expertise in military history, and is particularly knowledgeable about World War I, the Napoleonic Wars, the American Civil War and the early wars of the American Republic. He is the author of several books, articles and contributed essays.”He talked about the history and meaning of Veterans Day, where it came from and past wars,” said Nolan.History professor Dr. Dennis Showalter, of Colorado College, addressed Huntsville residents in the evening at the Katy and Don Walker Education Center at Sam Houston Memorial Museum. Showalter’s speech was entitled “Military History, Public Service, and the Historical Profession”. Showalter is a former president of the Society of Military History and has served as a visiting professor at the United States Military Academy at West Point and the United States Air Force Academy. He has also been the distinguished H.L. Oppenheimer Professor at the Marine Corps University.Showalter has written several books and articles dealing with military history. “He has published a great deal of works which are very well respected,” said Dr. Susannah Bruce, SHSU history professor.The talks covered the meaning of Veterans Day, the importance of volunteering and serving the public, and the value of studying war and combat.A reception was held in the education center’s atrium following Showalter’s presentation, in which the public could enjoy refreshments and ask Showalter questions.Bruce said the morning event went well and hopes that this year’s commemorations will become a yearly tradition.”It was to promote interest in veterans, especially within the community,” she said.Nolan said he would support having this year’s Veterans Day events occur every year, and noted that Sam Houston himself had quite an extensive military background.”We’re hoping to make it an annual event. The history department is beginning to develop a track in military history,” said Nolan. “The museum has a strong interest. Sam Houston himself was a veteran several times over. He fought during the War of 1812 and then again as a general for Texas at San Jacinto. He (did everything) from being a private to a general.”Bruce mentioned that courses in military history have become increasingly available to SHSU students, and is excited about the department’s new specialization.”It’s basically an emphasis in military history, especially within the graduate program,” said Bruce. “There are lots of courses for master of arts students in military history.”On Nov. 11, 1918, the Allied Powers signed an armistice with Germany at Rethondes, France, ending World War I. Nov. 11 was set aside in 1919 as Armistice Day in the United States in order to remember the men and women who served America in war. The United States Congress made Armistice Day a national holiday in 1938, shortly before World War II began. The holiday was named Veterans Day by the United States in 1954 to honor of all the American war veterans.

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