The Vietnam Series Comes to a Fine Conclusion

Event Program

Was seven students reading poems and prose too many? Actually, eight had agreed to read, but one was unable to attend. In fact, the number of readers worked out well. We had the final event of the Fall Faculty Series at Mount Mercy tonight, and with 10 poems, four songs, recognition of speakers, a video look back at the series—well, the program timed out at just about an hour, which was my target.

I don’t know for sure what it was like to watch—I hope the audience didn’t get too antsy, but those who spoke to me after the program were complimentary, so I think it worked out.


Andrews Christian Academy Choir warms up before singing during MMU’s Fall Faculty Series final event, a night of music, poetry and prose.

I’m glad we had a school choir visit. After several sometimes grim poems written by Vietnam vets, it was nice to hear “I’ve Got Peace Like a River.”

“Amazing Grace” was a pretty amazing opening number, played on bells and a bagpipe. And the closing song, Dona Nobis Pacem (Give Us Peace) was the perfect touch.


Bagpiper Craig Hazelbaker. Amazing Grace was amazing.

The audience didn’t get to see the sausage being made. Alison Brown stepped in, and all of the poems were read. Earlier this week, I had created a draft video retrospective, but then asked a more video savvy student to take a stab at polishing the project. She was enthusiastic and threw herself into it.

Sadly, today, her computer crashed, and we could not get her embellished video to play. We had to use the raw one that I had sent her as a starting point. It’s OK and served its purpose—and, again, the audience was unaware of the backstage crisis—but I do wish I had been able to use her finished product.

We also had one minor glitch during the program. Besides the video, I had prepared three slide shows to go with three of the readings. I checked them all during our warm up, but the computer went to sleep and refused to quickly wake up during the performance, so the first reading was underway before the images started appearing.

Oh well, it still worked out. The library shot video again, and I do hope they post this one to YouTube. I would like to see it.

Anyway, I’m not sure what the future of the Fall Faculty Series at MMU will be—but I’m pretty sure there is a future. Last year, we attracted much bigger crowds than expected to the forums when the first Fall Faculty Series centered on the 100th anniversary of the start of World War I. This year, with Vietnam, it turned out so many still are processing that experience from four decades ago that the series resonated even more, and crowds were even larger.


Mark Mettler, Alison Brown and Miranda Tumlity were three of seven Mount Mercy students who read at the final event of the MMU fall series. MMU Times photo by Dori Whitlock.

I think we had about 60 people at this final event .No event was attended by less than 30. Thousands came to visit the Moving Wall, and a veteran’s forum held during the wall’s visit packed the Flaherty Community Room with a crowd well over 100. One of our authors last week drew more than 200 to the Chapel of Mercy.

And even if the crowd at this final event was not huge, well, 60 is a pretty decent gathering at an MMU event.


Carolyn Sternowski, Hand Bell Ensemble director, accompanies Andrews Christian Choir.

I wrote a thank you message for the program (don’t get me started on the program—those little publication are indeed a severe pain where the sun don’t shine). I put a link to the program at the top of this post, and the thank-you is the final panel of the program. Anyway, what did I do when the series was over? I hopped on my bike, rode home, found and fixed a frozen pizza and washed it down with a beer. Now, my tummy is full, my ears still hear that bagpipe and my heart is full of joy. There is a bit of a letdown when a big thing in life comes to its inevitable close—but I feel my life is much enriched by the many who came and participated in this second Fall Faculty Series. Thanks, it was grand.

So, MMU. About next year ….


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Filed under History, Mount Mercy

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