Local presentations highlight area's history

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Editorís note: The following editorial has been edited to correct Hanover Lutheran Churchís affiliation with the Civil War Roundtable.

We live in an area teeming with history. Even as we progress, we are always aware of what is behind us and how it shapes our community and culture overall. Recently, several events drew attention to history, and more are coming.

On Thursday, Dr. Annessa Stagner, dean of academic services at Lamar Community College in Lamar, Colorado, will give a lecture in the University Center Ballroom at Southeast Missouri State University. "Coming to Terms with Failure: The Story of American Medicine and Shell Shock" will take place at 7:30 p.m. as part of the 2017 Harold Holmes Dugger Lecture.

Stagner will present on the topic of military mental health, specifically "how the events of World War I came to influence policy-making in the realm of military mental health," according to the Southeast website.

The presentation is free to the public.

On the third Sunday of this month, the Hanover Lutheran Church in Cape Girardeau hosted a program on the life of Ann Stokes as part of its monthly Cape Girardeau Civil War Roundtable. Stokes was a nurse on the USS Red Rover, a Civil War hospital ship built in Cape Girardeau.

Marlene Rivero dressed the part and used props and songs as she brought the former slave's life to the twenty-first century.

As the Southeast Missourian reported:

"She pulled out a cat o' nine tails, brandishing it as she described the punishments runaway slaves would receive if they were caught.

"Regardless of the possible consequences, she and a group of other slaves took off under cover of night and started up the Cumberland River in Tennessee."

The storytelling included the dangers and horrors of slavery and Stokes' perseverance in the midst of it. "She was a forerunner of women and nurses," Rivero said. "She was one of the first women to get a documented pension from the Navy."

Who can deny the role music played historically, particularly gospel music? On Saturday, Altha Robinson gave a presentation that launched the Cape River Heritage Museum's 2017 speaker series. The Cape native, who teaches music in Sikeston, highlighted "the history of gospel music and its development, influence and importance" in her presentation titled "Let The Church Say Amen: A Celebration of Gospel Music," according to Southeast Missourian reporter Marybeth Niederkorn.

A look at history always includes the struggles that make us what we are today, but the beauty of gospel music is that it always provides a message of faith and hope -- the very things that we build on when moving forward. No wonder people are passionate about it. Robinson expressed that passion herself, stating in a news release, "Music, for me, is not just a vocation or a hobby; it is my passion and a huge portion of my life -- especially gospel music."

Her presentation was educational as well as passionate, as she provided information about songs, musicians and composers throughout gospel music's history up to present times.

These are just a few of the vibrant historical events right in our own back yard. Many are ongoing and free to the public.

We are delighted that organizations in the area take history seriously and find entertaining ways to share it.

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