Society of Military History 2019 Annual Meeting (Panel Presentation - May 2019)
Battlefields of Memory, Past and Present: Institutional, Individual, Cultural, Public
Chair: Dr. John A. Lynn II, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Commentator: Dr. Andrew Wiest, University of Southern Mississippi
Throughout the history of warfare, the battles over how wars are remembered outlast the wars themselves. Military institutions write their own official histories. Individuals of varying origins write memoirs about ‘their wars’ for varying purposes. National cultures create their own memories of wars past through artwork inspired by violence and death. Museums and public historians attempt to shape the ways in which the public commemorates wars through the exhibits and memorials they build. In many ways, remembrance is neither static nor monolithic, and conflict inevitably erupts. Various forms of memory battle with one another to vie for the dominate interpretation of wars past and present, with consequences beyond the memories that ultimately prevail.
Rather than focus on a single conflict, this panel seeks to unveil some of the processes of remembering wars from the 19th century Wars of Unification through the World Wars and up to the ongoing ‘War on Terror’. The individual papers cover various types of memory – institutional, individual, cultural, and public, instances in which they came into conflict with one another, and the interpretive problems posed by memory for historians of war. Cavender Sutton traces how a narrow institutional memory of the wars of Frederick the Great and German Unification led to the implementation of the flawed Schlieffen Plan in 1914. Alexander Nordlund traces the interpretive problems posed by remembering letters of British soldiers from the First World War as wartime ‘testimonies’ despite the ‘mundanity’ of this correspondence and the realities of military censorship. With the 1994 Enola Gay Controversy, Mattias Eken reveals how a battle between individual and public memories of the 1945 atomic bombing of Hiroshima had wider consequences for American political culture. Lastly, looking at literature from the ‘War of Terror’, Michele Robertson traces not just how wars, soldiers, veterans, and society are remembered, but also the added complexity of who remembers wars and why.
War Stories (McNair Presentation - May 2018)
Presentation given May 2018 in partial fulfillment of the requirements of the Ronald A. McNair program at Sam Houston State University. Consisted of my thesis, questions asked, and literature analysis to a group of 12 individuals from across the Sam Houston State University academic colleges.