What if the entire community read the same book at the same time?
Kalamazoo Public Library announces the selection of the 2006 ReadingTogether
The Things They Carried,
Tim O'Brien's brilliant collection of short stories about the men of
Alpha Company during the Vietnam War.
ReadingTogether invites people of all ages from all walks of life to read
and then discuss important issues raised by a single book. Thousands of county
residents participated in the three previous programs.
Things They Carried serves as a testament to the men who risked their
lives in America's most controversial war. While this collection of
interrelated short pieces focuses on the soldiers' experience of the Vietnam
War, O'Brien believes "that it is equally a book about the things all of us
must finally carry through life -- grief, pity, terror, love, longing, doubt,
embarrassment, great joy and great despair. In part, too, this is a book about
"The rain might add some weight, but otherwise it
would be one more day layered upon all the other days."and about the power of stories to help us
deal with our human burdens: to help us heal, to help us understand, to console
us and to offer reassurance that we are not alone in our daily moral
Dr. Ed Tick shares his thoughts after visiting
I am writing to you all after the wonderful and moving events we shared during my visit to Kalamazoo in April. I want to thank each of
you and your entire community for the depth of concern, devotion and alliance we shared. With your long series of reading events, and
our culmination together focusing on the possibilities of healing our veterans and nation, I trust that together we planted seeds for
spiritual and communal growth. With proper nurturing and attention, these seeds could sprout into full, wise and compassionate
programming that would help our new veterans return home in safety and our older veterans and families continue to find support and
healing for their war wounds.
Some events were small, some larger. But they were all intimate, deep, and intense. They all brought healing and education to both
new and older veterans, family and community members and leaders attending. It is remarkable that we created audience throughout
your community -- at churches, colleges, in the media.
In addition to the healing and educational benefits, significant members of your Kalamazoo community responded to the deeper
message about the need for community grass roots efforts to be in place in order to receive and help heal our next generation of
veterans. I trust you share my hope that community individuals and organizations can come together to create in-place veterans
programming. If we wish to take the step, we have laid the
groundwork for a veterans return program in your community. I hope we
can continue to explore how to create such a program.
Together we can help prevent the national mental health disaster suffered by our Vietnam veterans upon their return. We can indeed
catch our new vets in a safety net of love, wisdom, compassion and response that will significantly improve their return, prevent those
dimensions of PTSD caused upon return, and help them and our society heal from war and have better lives for the rest of our lives.
I am honored and proud that Kalamazoo proved to be welcoming and fertile ground for such an exploration. For more information about
Soldier's Heart, an emerging network of support for returning veterans, please visit
Thank you all for your efforts. Blessings,
~ Ed Tick