Vietnam War novel theme of Gail Borden's Big Read
Submitted by Gail Borden
On Sunday, Sept. 8, a kickoff ceremony for "The Big Read," a program in which the community will read the Vietnam War novel, "The Things They Carried," by Tim O'Brien, will take place at 2 p.m. at the Gail Borden Public Library, 270 N. Grove Ave., Elgin.
The Elgin High School Chamber Choir, under the direction of Roz Zager, will perform patriotic music. Veterans groups are invited, and the color guard will be provided by combined veterans from St. Charles AMVETS Post 503, Elgin American Legion Post 57, and Elgin Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 1307. Book sales will be provided by Barnes & Noble and refreshments provided by Sam's Club.
"The Portrait of a Soldier" exhibit will open at the library during the kickoff. It is a traveling display of hand-sketched portraits of fallen service members from Illinois who have been killed since Sept. 11, 2001 in the Global War on Terror.
Artist Cameron Schilling of Mattoon drew the first portrait in August 2004, after Army Specialist Charles Neeley, also of Mattoon, was killed in Iraq.
Schilling gave the sketch to SPC Neeley's parents to convey his sympathy for their loss. In October 2005, while a student at Eastern Illinois University, Schilling decided to draw a portrait of every Illinois service member who has fallen during the Global War on Terror. The portraits are copies of the original, which has been given to the fallen soldiers next of kin, and the exhibit travels throughout the state of Illinois.
Also on display at the kickoff will be "The Things I Carried" photo exhibit, featuring photos of Vietnam veterans with "the things they carried." The exhibit was created by former Chicago Tribune award-winning photographer John Dziekan.
As part of The Big Read, special programs, events and book discussions will take place through Nov. 11.
"The Wall That Heals," a half-scale replica of the original Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C., will be on display in downtown Elgin from Sept. 19-22.
For information, visit www.gailborden.info/bigread.