Robert Foresman, a doctoral student in the Department of History, Philosophy and Religious Studies, was named the 2016-2017 Mari Sandoz Scholar by the Mari Sandoz Heritage Society. He was awarded a $1,500 grant and will be a featured speaker at the Mari Sandoz Conference, scheduled for Sept. 28-29 at Chadron State College, Nebraska.
In addition, Foresman received the Alfred D. Bell Travel Grant by the Forest History Society. He will travel in September to the Forest History Society library and archives at the Carl A. Weyerhaeuser Library at Durham, North Carolina, to research and document North Dakota's World War I Memory Trees. The trees were memorial elms planted for Americans who died in military service during World War I. He will digitize the archive so that North Dakota communities can locate the Memory Trees that remain.
"The memorial trees of World War I are significant in that they are located all over our state, on our college campuses and in local communities – and this pattern continues across the entire United States. Yet, for the most part they remain silent witnesses of human sacrifice and have been forgotten as memorials,” Foresman said. “The aim of this research is to raise awareness of natural memorial objects that have been or are in danger of being forgotten.”
His research is expected to produce a referenceable list of Memory Trees. “This will allow for local communities and the people of North Dakota to have access to a useful historical database that may help in preservation and commemoration of both natural memorials and the human sacrifice associated with it from World War I," said Foresman, who is a board member of Saving Hallowed Ground, a national organization dedicated to historic preservation through such projects as restoring monuments and markers and planting memorial trees.
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