By Kelsey Keener
Iron County Today
CEDAR CITY–Dr. Jennifer Keene gave the annual Howard R. Driggs Memorial Lecture in the Great Hall of the R. Haze Hunter Conference Center at SUU as part of Founders Week on Tuesday, March 20.
Dr. Keene, a specialist in American military experience during World War I, spoke on the 100th anniversary of the end of the war and the experience of American soldiers during the war. She is a professor of history, as well as the history department chair, at Chapman University in California and the current president of the Society of Military History.
Dr. Keene began her lecture with a discussion of how America came to be involved in World War I and the effects of the country’s joining the war three years after it began. She discussed the conscription and the pressure put on American men to join the military as well as the pressure put on civilians to support the war by buying bonds.
She also discussed the fact that this war was largely mechanical, resulting in a need for more non-combatant soldiers than combatant soldiers, and the effect that had on American soldiers at the time.
Dr. Keene talked about African-American soldiers, and their expectations of change being let down when they joined the military. She also mentioned the positive experiences they had with French civilians, who treated them as equals.
Dr. Keene brought up several soldiers who served in the war and the lasting impacts their experiences had on America. The National Civil Liberties Bureau, important art and writing, The American Legion and the GI Bill of Rights all resulted from the experiences and concerns of American soldiers who served during World War I.
The Memorial Lecture was established in 2009 by Camille Bradford, Driggs’ stepdaughter and is intended to highlight the Driggs Collection in the Special Collections section of the Gerald R. Sherratt Library at SUU. The Driggs Collection covers artifacts from 1890 to 1965 from Driggs’ work with the American Pioneer Trails Association and the Oregon Trails Memorial Association.