Thursday, August 9, 2007

Precious Poets Remember Our Troops; Create a Play

There was a young gentleman who read Beyond Glory: Medal of Honor Heroes in Their Own Words by Larry Smith. After reading this book, he felt compelled to write a play about these men and tell their stories in words. It opened in 2004 "on the edge of Arlington Cemetery, at a small theater inside the Women in Military Service Memorial." Eight of these men were chosen of the twenty-four available to represent the men to be honored. There was an apolitical play, meaning this was not about politics. It is about our Heroes.

So how did it Mr. Lang, the performer, come to travel the world performing his play for our men and women in the Middle East, on the DMZ (dividing line between North and South Korea, otherwise known as the 'demilitarization zone'), Europe, and many other places? This is where our precious poets step up to the plate to support our Troops.
Mr. Peede had been asked to direct a new NEA [National Endowment for the Arts] program called Operation Homecoming: Writing the Wartime Experience. Its intention was to help soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan, or their families, to put their experiences into writing--fiction, non-fiction and poetry. The idea was suggested to NEA Chairman Dana Gioia, a poet, by Connecticut poet Marilyn Nelson, who'd recently served as a visiting writer at West Point. Good for the poets.

Reluctant to wait years for Congressional funding or to divert money from other NEA programs, Chairman Gioia sought private funding for Operation Homecoming. Quietly, the Boeing Company stepped up, ultimately giving $1.2 million. The soldiers' tutors at NEA's workshops included writers such as Barry Hannah, Tobias Wolff, Mark Bowden, Victor Davis Hanson and Tom Clancy. The result is a book, "Operation Homecoming" (Random House), which--again some understatement--is breathtakingly good. [Continue reading Mr. Henninger's article.]
It is a wonderful thing that has been done, finally, by the NEA and the Opinion Journal's article. You may purchase Operation Homecoming at Amazon.com. I thought you might like to know. Have a wonderful day! :)

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