People don’t often think of art and the US military as connected, but many of the artists in our collection—as well as collectors who have donated to the OSU art collection—were in the service at some point in their careers. This Veterans Day, I am grateful not only for their actions on behalf of our nation, but for the federal programs that supported many of them in their pursuit of arts education. Most notable among these, of course, was the G.I. Bill (the Servicemen’s Readjustment Act of 1944), which offered returning veterans the opportunity to pursue home ownership, education, and business development. Almost 9 million people took advantage of the G.I. Bill’s education benefits between 1944 and 1956.
Today, similar programs are in place to help those returning from combat re-enter civilian life and succeed. Technical schools, colleges and universities in Oklahoma, including Oklahoma State, are eligible for millions of dollars in aid from programs like the Post-9-11 G.I. Bill. Programs like these have a lasting impact on individual lives and national social and cultural development—as well as tangible, long-term support for people who have offered their lives for our national security.
Support of veterans transcends political boundaries, just as support of education should do. This week, I am marking my own gratitude—but also, I believe, the gratitude of artists, collectors, museum visitors, students, and community members whose lives have been so diversely enriched by American veterans.