Off to War and Coming Home

November 09, 2012

Off to War and Coming Home: Historical Perspectives on Military Veterans During and After Their Service, 1946-Present will be the theme of a year-long series of programs and activities at Northampton Community College (NCC), 2013 - 2014. The series is supported by a challenge grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) and generous donors and in partnership with the Bethlehem Area Public Library, Bethlehem Area School District, Eastern Monroe Public Library, Historic Bethlehem Partnership, Monroe County Historical Society, and Stroudsburg Area High School. Dr. Michael J. McGovern, professor of history, will be the faculty coordinator.

"The history of American war veterans during their service and upon reentry to civilian life parallels major issues in the nation and helped to define and shape the present. With World War II veterans dwindling in number, it is important that contemporary students have the opportunity to understand and appreciate the role of military veterans in providing the "primary source" of evidence about the tumultuous and transformative events of the twentieth and early twenty-first century," McGovern says.

He goes on to say that veterans of World War II, Korea, Vietnam, and several middle eastern wars returned and are returning in substantial numbers to earn (or finish) their educations. These veterans witnessed main currents of celebration, political ideologies, protest, and societal pathologies that sometimes accompanied their years of service and beyond. Their experiences of the GI Bill of Rights, the Baby Boom era, the protests of the Vietnam era, and the wars against "terror" and radical Islam are part of Northampton Community College's history as the College continues to serve large numbers of veterans.

"Calling up and examining the history of military veterans will serve as an illuminating experience for all of us in the Northampton community," McGovern says. "As citizens and participants in a global and interdependent community, we will clearly profit from their service and experiences, both at home and abroad."

The series is a chapter in NCC's annual, yearlong humanities, multimedia explorations of important topics in American history. In 2011-2012, the NEH series explored The Meaning of Freedom on the 250th anniversary of the start of the Civil War. The theme for 2012-13 is The American Presidency. Events will be open to the public, free of charge. Further details will be available as events are scheduled.