Community Stories: Soldiers Home & Away

The Things They Carried

With over 50 programs over nine weeks in nine communities, Soldiers Home & Away seeks to connect veterans and non-veterans to share experiences, build relationships, and reflect on our mutual obligations. This grant-funded “community read” takes as its inspiration Tim O’Brien’s novel The Things They Carried. O’Brien’s fictionalized account captures the experiences of a young platoon in Vietnam, on a battlefield without a front, dodging sniper fire and their own misgivings. A classic work of American literature and a profound study of men at war, this novel illuminates the challenges facing soldiers, home and away, throughout modern history. 

On Tuesday, October 4 in Plaistow, theatre historian and veterans’ advocate Dr. Leslie Pasternack engages participants in “Staging War: Veterans’ Voices in Post-9/11 Theatre,” placing today’s theatre of war into historical context and introducing audiences to recent dramatic productions about war and homecoming. Audience members are invited to participate in short readings from the various literary works. 

Starting in Plaistow on October 6 and in five additional towns on later dates, Terry Farish, author of Luis Paints the World, will share the story of a boy whose older brother is being deployed and who expresses his feelings through art. Recommended for grades 1–5. On October 27 in Hampstead, Farish will read passages from her novel for older readers set on the NH Seacoast, Either the Beginning or the End of the World, about a returned veteran and his link to a family who survived war in the Vietnam War era. The novel is a 2016 Maine Literary Award winner and a Boston Author’s Club Award finalist. Farish, who served in the American Red Cross in Vietnam, shares the stories of many community members – veterans, fishermen, and new Americans who have resettled in New Hampshire – in an effort to understand the context of war, its impact on families, trauma, and healing. 

Community Stories: Soldiers Home & Away complements New Hampshire Humanities’ own ongoing special initiative Dialogues on the Experience of War, which uses the ancient tale of Odysseus’ epic 10-year journey home from the Trojan War as the centerpiece of 14-week reading and discussion groups for veterans in four areas of the state.

For more details about these and many other events that make up Community Stories: Soldiers Home & Away, visit www.communitystoriesnh.org. 

 From a review of The Things They Carried:

“They carried malaria tablets, love letters, 28-pound mine detectors, dope, illustrated bibles, each other. And if they made it home alive, they carried unrelenting images of a nightmarish war that history is only beginning to absorb. The Things They Carried has become an unparalleled Vietnam testament, a classic work of American literature, and a profound study of men at war that illuminates the capacity, and the limits, of the human heart and soul.”     – Goodreads.com