Stand Up and Be Heard!

During fall 2010, the annual “One Book One Community” program to encourage everyone in Danbury to read the same book featured “The Things They Carried,” one soldier’s personal account of life during the Vietnam War.

Residents were invited to join freshmen at Western and Danbury High School students as they read and studied the book and engaged in several special activities to complement the theme of the book.

The highlight was an appearance by the book’s author, Tim O’Brien, on Oct. 26, 2010, in Ives Concert Hall.

“The Things They Carried,” a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Critics Circle Award, is described as a fictional account of O’Brien’s experience in Vietnam, where he spent a 13-month tour as a soldier. He was sent home in 1970 with a Purple Heart. O'Brien now lives in Texas with his family and teaches creative writing at Texas State University.

Additional “One Book” events in October included a luncheon of Vietnamese foods at the dining hall in the WCSU Midtown campus Student Center; viewings of several movies related to Vietnam and the war, with facilitated discussions; book discussions at venues around Danbury; a panel discussion featuring veterans from several wars talking about the issues they faced when they returned home; an essay contest; and a monthlong effort to collect and deliver care packages to soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan.

During October, collection bins were at all of the program sites for donations of personal and snack items to be sent to soldiers serving in Iraq and Afghanistan. The Fairfield County-based nonprofit group, “Project from the Heart,” coordinated transport of care packages sent to individual soldiers.

The program concluded with a celebration of Veterans Day on Nov. 11 at the WCSU Midtown campus.

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Clockwise from top:
Pulitzer Prize finalist Tim O'Brien talks about his book, "The Things They Carried."

O'Brien signs books.