A piece of history

Mike Hankins created a window display in ROTC, sharing Bruce Adams’ family’s military history.  

“I hope that other people viewing the display will feel that tangible connection to the past that K-State has; that they will understand they are members of a family and writing another chapter in this story goes back well over a century.” — Mike Hankins


Not everyone gets the chance to recreate history — at least in a tangible sense.

Kansas State University’s ROTC offices feature a window display of retired Army Brigadier General Bruce Adams’ family’s military history. With support from Bruce, Mike Hankins, who earned his Ph.D. at K-State and is currently a professor of strategy at the Air Command and Staff College, had the opportunity to create the display.

“What gets me the most excited about this project is the same thing that gets me excited about teaching — the  opportunity to show people something new about history, and how they can relate to it in a personal way,” Mike said. “My hope is that people viewing this project can learn something about major historical events and see tangible artifacts that make that history seem more real, and also see how K-State is directly connected to that history. Thus anyone that is part of the K-State family is connected to the Adams family and their legacy.” 

Bruce and his family have strong ties to the military, as well as Kansas State University. Bruce graduated from K-State with a degree in business and concluded his military career as a Brigadier General.

“I’m hoping that every cadet and every person who enters that building walks down the hall, will see the display and think, ‘Well, my family isn’t the only family from Kansas that served in the military.’ Lots of others did, and they should all be proud of that,” Bruce said. “The story is not just a singular story. It should be a common story, especially in a state like Kansas where you have patriotic feelings and people that are proud to serve the country.”

In addition to the window display, Bruce has made numerous donations to the K-State Libraries’ Special Collections department, as well as created three scholarships, made donations to the McCain project and established a Special Collections fund at the library.  

“Because of my family’s involvement, I knew I wanted to serve. If it hadn’t been for K-State and the Army ROTC, my life would have been so different. I don’t even know where I’d be. I owe that back,” Bruce said.  

Papers and journal articles have featured historical information about Bruce’s grandpa and his father. Mike also wrote a journal including Bruce’s fathers’ war story.

“Personally, it helped me to think deeper about the motivations and the real-life, everyday concerns that moved the people we read about in history books, and it showed me that being involved with the K-State family connects me to a much larger legacy,” Mike said.

The display includes photos and other items throughout the generations of Bruce’s family’s experiences serving in the military. The window display specifically tells the story of one family, but is also intended to be relatable for many other Kansas families with strong connections to the military.

“I hope that other people viewing the display will feel that tangible connection to the past that K-State has; that they will understand they are members of a family and writing another chapter in this story goes back well over a century,” Mike said.

HankinsandAdam

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