SALISBURY, NC (WBTV) - On Dec. 30, you're invited to join Rowan Public Library in honoring all veterans of the United States Armed Forces at a "Welcome Home" celebration from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.
This free event is open to the public and will be held in Stanback Auditorium and the Hurley Room at RPL Headquarters, located at 201 W. Fisher St. in Salisbury. All ages are welcome.
This celebration honors all veterans and is the culmination of a three-month-long programming arc centering on the Vietnam War. RPL is one of two N.C. public libraries that were selected by the American Library Association (ALA) in partnership with WETA Washington, DC, to receive a programming kit for "The Vietnam War," a 10-part documentary film by Ken Burns and Lynn Novick that aired on PBS stations this fall. RPL has since used the kit, designed to help libraries participate in a national conversation about one of the most consequential, divisive, and controversial events in American history, to anchor programs featuring guest speakers, moderated discussions, and special programs, such as the November program, "The Times They Are A-Changin'," which featured the work of students in Theresa Pierce's Rowan County Early College High School world history class, and the Dec. 29 RPL Book Talk that discussed Tim O'Brien's "The Things They Carried."
The "Welcome Home" celebration, the grand finale of this programming arc, incorporates many elements from these earlier programs and includes exhibits, a reception, period-specific music, and guest speakers.
"Through a Soldier's Eyes: Remembering Vietnam" features photographs from the personal collections of local veterans; first shown in 2011, this exhibition received the North Carolina Public Library Director Association's "Outstanding Adult Program" award that same year. Now, "Through a Soldier's Eyes" complements the special displays in the Link Gallery and the Hurley Room that showcase Vietnam-era artifacts from local veterans and related items. The Link Gallery display opened to the public in October; this weekend is the last chance to see these pieces.
The Hurley Room exhibits, which feature items from Gleen Hinson, will only be shown during the celebration, as will a Vietnam jeep, owned by Bobby Harrison, which will be parked on the RPL lawn.
All of the exhibits will be available to the public on Dec. 30 beginning at 11 a.m. Refreshments will also be available at that time and include doughnuts donated by Krispy Kreme (1428 W Innes St, Salisbury) and bakery items and coffee donated by Better Loafing Artisan Bread Company (1024 S Fulton St #3, Salisbury). At 11:30 a.m., the program featuring guest speakers Tom Harrell and Carroll Owen will begin. Harrell is a World War II veteran who is active in church and community and was recently inducted into the Order of the Long Leaf Pine, an award conferred by the governor of North Carolina that recognizes exemplary public service in the state, specifically that which goes "above and beyond the call of duty."
Owen is a Vietnam veteran who is also active in church and community and often speaks at schools and other venues, sharing his account and personally filmed account of his time in service in Vietnam. Harrell will speak first, followed by Owen, who will share his film. The program will last approximately 90 minutes.
This is a drop-in event, so during and after the speaking program, attendees are invited to peruse the artifacts and materials available, including information about Rowan County Veterans Services. All exhibits will remain open until 3 p.m. with the Link Gallery remaining open until RPL Headquarters closes at 5 p.m.
The Welcome Home is intended to be a community event that offers all area veterans and the public at large an opportunity for fellowship, learning, and honoring. All ages are invited to participate in this event. For more information, visit www.rowanpubliclibrary.org or contact your nearest branch.