Sep 16, 2021 | Academics , Arts and Entertainment , Featured , Humanities and Social Sciences

Columbia State to Deliver "Celebrating Our American Heritage" Series Via Virtual Format

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Columbia State Community College presents its thirty-fifth annual “Celebrating Our American Heritage” lecture series featuring professors from the college’s history department. Lectures will start in September on Tuesdays and Wednesdays from 4 – 5:15 p.m. via Zoom.

“I'm very excited about the 35th installment of the History Department's annual Celebrating Our American Heritage series,” said Dr. Barry Gidcomb, professor of history. “Dr. Thomas Flagel's presentation is based on his recent, and excellent, book ‘War, Memory, and the 1913 Gettysburg Reunion.’ Greg Mewbourn will address the timely issue of voting rights and the current status of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. I'll be talking about a major event in the life of the nation and Columbia's own President James K. Polk. Dr. Anna M. Duch is providing a major revision of a presentation the department did in our inaugural Celebrating Our American Heritage program in 1987 called ‘Cannonballs and Corsets,’ in which she examines the role of women in the U.S. military from the American Revolution to the present.”

The series will open Sept. 28 with “War, Memory, and the 1913 Gettysburg Reunion” presented by Dr. Thomas Flagel, Columbia State professor of history. It was the largest Blue and Gray reunion ever held. Leaders north and south praised it as the moment our nation finally reconciled the Civil War. Did the veterans feel the same way? What did this week-long celebration mean for them, numbering in the thousands, to return to a place of trauma and come face-to-face with their old enemies? Based on his recent book on the subject, Flagel explores this iconic event where combat survivors were presented as gods of war.  

On Oct. 20, Greg Mewbourn, Columbia State associate professor of history, will present “The Voting Rights Act of 1965 and the Supreme Court.” When it was passed in 1965, the Voting Rights Act was hailed as one of the most significant achievements of the Civil Rights Movement. For many years, the law remained a cornerstone of the American political system. In recent years the Supreme Court has overturned major portions of the law, leaving it substantially weakened. Mewbourn will examine the passage of the Voting Rights Act and the original provisions of the law and conclude with a discussion of the recent Supreme Court decisions that have weakened the law and the potential future of the Voting Rights Act.

Gidcomb will present “The Wordy Diplomat, the Pompous General, the Angry President, and the Treaty that Ended the Mexican War” on Nov. 3. While a disgruntled Congress pressed for an end to the Mexican War, the fate of the peace lay in the hands of three strong-minded and obstinate men. Gidcomb will examine the conflicts and intrigue that led to the completion and ratification of the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo.

Dr. Anna M. Duch, Columbia State assistant professor of history, will close the series Nov. 16 with “Cannon Balls, Corsets, and Camp Disease: Gender and Military Service in the United States.” The U.S. Armed Forces did not require a physical examination prior to enlistment until the Spanish-American War. As a result, women were able to disguise themselves and serve in combat during the American Revolutionary War, the Civil War and in the campaigns at the western frontier. Despite this long history, women were not permitted to officially serve in combat positions until 2013. At the same time, despite male nurses being common in civilian life, men were not permitted to serve in the military as nurses or gain rank in this position until the Vietnam War. Duch will discuss all this and examine the modern debates around gender and military service. 

Inaugurated in 1987, “Celebrating Our American Heritage” is an annual series of presentations sponsored by the Columbia State Department of History designed to illuminate the past and enhance understanding of the present.

The American Heritage series lectures are free and open to the public. To join via Zoom, follow this link on your smartphone or computer: