Understanding how humanities support veterans focus of annual summit

The fourth annual Maine Humanities Summit aims to deepen the understanding of how the humanities play a crucial role in the post-war homecoming of service people, as well as their family members and communities.

The public is invited to join the conversation and enjoy a buffet dinner starting with a reception at 5:45 p.m. Tuesday, April 12 at the Senator Inn in Augusta.

“The human experience of war can be captured through storytelling, writing and creative works. Each of these allows returning veterans an emotional outlet to open their hearts and minds, and they allow us to understand a little more about what war is all about,” says Robert “Bob” Patrick, director of the Veterans History Project, a program of the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C.

Patrick is one of several panelists who will speak briefly beginning at 6:15 p.m. to initiate a facilitated discussion with the audience examining the question, “What’s the Connection between Veterans and the Humanities?”

Other panelists include:

  • Lizz Sinclair, director of programs for the Maine Humanities Council, where she leads the council’s Veterans Programs, including the Veterans Book Group;
  • Jeff Sychterz, an English professor at the University of Maine at Augusta’s Bangor campus, veteran, and facilitator of the Veterans Book Group at the Bangor Vet Center; and
  • Thomas Hayden, a UMaine student majoring in international affairs, president of the UMaine Veterans Association, and a staff sergeant in the Maine Army National Guard who was deployed to Iraq in 2008–2009 and 2011.

Liam Riordan, a history professor and director of the UMaine Humanities Center, says the humanities lead to a deeper self-awareness that is best grasped when explored in a practical manner. The summit panelists were selected for their ability to speak in tangible ways about how literature, history and sharing ideas and experiences are essential to building sustainable communities based on common values, he says.

“Veterans already know the humanities,” Sychterz says. “When they come together, they tell stories. Humanities programming simply encourages veterans to discover the connections between their personal stories and the larger human narrative. It is simple but profoundly important work.”

The discussion will be followed by dinner at 7:15 p.m.

This year’s Maine Humanities Summit is co-hosted by the UMaine Humanities Center (UMHC) and the Cole Land Transportation Museum with additional financial support from the University of Maine at Augusta, as well as the Margaret Chase Smith Policy Center and Maine Folklife Center at UMaine.

Registration for the free event can be completed online. For more information or to request a disability accommodation, visit the UMHC website or contact Riordan at riordan@umit.maine.edu or 581.1913.

The summit is one of many UMHC events planned for 2016. A public recognition ceremony for Maine National History Day participants will be held 4–5 p.m. before the summit in Augusta’s Cultural Building atrium in partnership with the Maine State Museum, Archives and Library. Guests are invited to celebrate NHD students and view their work during a light reception and talk by Patrick.

Contact: Elyse Kahl, 207.581.3747