by Danielle Schapaugh, Public Relations Coordinator
In Manhattan, we are honoring veterans with this year’s Big Read program by choosing to explore a Pulitzer Prize-winning book of short stories about the war in Vietnam, The Things They Carried.
Though the days of the Vietnam War are long gone, that conflict remains a divisive issue. Many of us still remember the nightly reports about battles and casualties, while others of us were not yet born by the time the conflict ended. Some may remember protesting the war, and in our military town, many remember the days of deployment.
Perhaps there is no better way to bring all these different groups together than by discussing Tim O’Brien’s personal and masterful novel, The Things They Carried. O’Brien’s account of those who fought in that conflict, their fears and their uncertainties, is a classic tale of young men sent to war. The many readers who cherish the book, and the much-deserved awards it has earned, attest to its lasting and powerful impact.
As part of the programming associated with the book, on Tuesday, November 11 at 4:00 p.m., a group of distinguished Manhattan citizens will gather at the Wareham Opera House to share stories about their own experiences during the war in Vietnam. No tickets are required, and everyone is welcome to attend, although some of the subject matter may not be appropriate for young children.
Mike Kearns, former JAG lawyer and member of the FHVC, will moderate the discussion with: Beryl Adams, American Red Cross who served at Danang Hospital; Orris Kelly, retired Chief of Chaplains for the U.S. Army; Mike McDermont, author and veteran of four tours of duty in Vietnam; Chuck Murphy, medic and former Riley County Health Department Administrator; Dr. Ron Trewyn, veteran and assistant to K-State President Kirk Shultz; and Rich Wartell, veteran and KMAN Radio General Manager.
Then, on Thursday, November 13 at 6:00 p.m., join librarians and friends for Books and Brew at the Little Apple Brewing Company in Westloop Plaza. We’ll discuss O’Brien’s book, share our own experiences, and talk about ways we can facilitate communication in our unique college/military/retirement town on the Great Plains. Register to participate in this event through the library’s website www.MHKLibrary.org, or by calling 776-4741 x.141.
The following Thursday, November 20 at 7:00 p.m., we’ll be meeting again to discuss The Things They Carried as part of the Good Books Club at the library. A special guest from the Kansas Humanities Council will join us to lead the discussion. We’ll enjoy snacks as we dive into this compelling book, meeting new people and making friends along the way.
We can also do a lot of good for the community by simply saying thank you to our soldiers. All during the month of November, the library will have postcards available to send to service men and women through Operation Gratitude. This organization sends packages to deployed soldiers, veterans’ hospitals, and veterans’ groups around the country. Stop by the library anytime during open hours to fill out a card.
If you have questions about any of the events or would like to reserve a copy of The Things They Carried, please visit the library’s website at www.MHKLibrary.org, call us at 776-4741, or visit the library at 629 Poyntz Avenue.
The Big Read, funded by the Kansas Humanities Council, is a program of the National Endowment for the Arts, designed to revitalize the role of reading in American culture by exposing citizens to great works of literature, and encouraging them to read for pleasure and enrichment. Each of the 77 organizations receiving a grant this year will develop unique programming that will provide their communities with the opportunity to read, discuss, and celebrate a powerful book.