STARKVILLE, Miss.—Mississippi State University Libraries will commemorate Veterans Day with a reading of soldiers' correspondence from World War I and II.
Free and open to all, "Through the Lines: Letters from Home and the Front, 1917-1945" takes place Nov. 11 from 3 to 5 p.m. in the John Grisham Room on the third floor of Mitchell Memorial Library.
Read by current veterans and volunteers from MSU's G.V. "Sonny" Montgomery Center for America's Veterans, selected correspondence includes material from the Earl Southworth Williford Collection and the Lt. Col. Rollins Armstrong Collection, among others.
Carrie Mastley, assistant professor of manuscripts at MSU, said the event is an opportunity for the public to glimpse soldiers' daily lives and that many of the letters shared a common theme—missing family and home-cooked meals.
"A lot of the soldiers didn't talk about the action because letters were heavily censored," Mastley said. "There was one letter from a man recovering in a hospital who compared the food there to his mother's, and wrote about how much he missed good, Southern, Mississippi cooking. It really shows what was in the forefront of veterans' minds while they were away."
Jennifer McGillan, assistant professor of libraries at MSU, said the materials are valuable library donations used for educational purposes beyond this event.
"The collections help support multiple undergraduate projects and professorial avenues of inquiry," McGillan said. "People ask, 'Are you sure you want these dusty papers?,' and the answer is always yes."
McGillan and Mastley curated the materials for the events, and MSU Libraries' Manuscripts Division of Special Collections holds all featured collections and papers. Special Collections viewing hours are 7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday, and 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturday. For more information, visit www.lib.msstate.edu/specialcollections.
Special Collections is actively seeking donations of historical items and hopes to represent all conflicts with U.S. involvement, in particular the Korean and Vietnam wars. Items belonging to female veterans and veterans of color are also of interest in order to create a realistic representation of those who served.
MSU's G.V. "Sonny" Montgomery Center for America's Veterans provides resources and scholarships for student veterans, as well as service members and their dependents. For more, visit www.veterans.msstate.edu.
Veterans Day originated as Armistice Day after World War I, which came to a close after the Allies—Britain, France, Italy, Russia and the United States—proposed the end of hostilities against Germany and the Central Powers on Nov. 11, 1918.
First commemorated under President Woodrow Wilson, the holiday originally honored the service of World War I veterans. The modern conception of Veterans Day began in 1954 under President Dwight D. Eisenhower, who called for a celebration of all veterans regardless of the conflict in which they served, and passed a bill that gave the event its current name.
For more information about "Through the Lines" or to inquire about a potential donation to Special Collections, contact McGillan at firstname.lastname@example.org or Mastley at email@example.com.
MSU is Mississippi's leading university, available online at www.msstate.edu.