Truman Big Read Grant From NEA Will Focus on Vietnam War

Truman has received a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts to host The Big Read in Kirksville.

Truman is one of 269 nonprofits to receive a grant to host a Big Read project. The Big Read gives communities the opportunity to come together to read, discuss and celebrate one of 30 selections from U.S. and world literature.

“It is a beautiful thing when the University and the community come together for this type of community learning activity,” said Sam Minner, dean of the School of Health Sciences and Education. “Universities enrich the communities where they are situated. People from the community also enrich what happens on campus. It is truly a win-win.”

The Big Read has also been endorsed by Gov. Jay Nixon in the form of a proclamation signed last month.

Kirksville’s Big Read will focus on “The Things They Carried,” a look into the lives of soldiers during the Vietnam War, by Tim O’Brien.

“Working together, reading the O’Brien book, discussing our reactions to the work, particularly in the context of the conflicts our nation is engaged in right now, and just coming together as a community, should be an interesting experience for all participants,” Minner said.

Copies of O’Brien’s book will be provided free of charge to anyone interested in reading it and participating in book discussion groups. To get a copy of the book and sign up for a discussion group call Mona Davis at 785.4383.

In addition to book discussion groups, other activities related to the theme of the book will be taking place from January 2010 to April 2010.

Two Vietnam era movies will be screened free of charge at the Downtown Cinema 8: “Full Metal Jacket” on March 17 and “Platoon” on March 24, both at 6:45 p.m.

An exhibit of Vietnam era artifacts will be developed and displayed at the Kirksville Arts Association Feb. 8-26.

Activities will conclude April 2, with a panel discussion, reception and concert at the Du Kum Inn.

This is the first year Truman is participating in The Big Read, thanks to a grant from the NEA. The NEA works in partnerships with the Institute of Museum and Library Services and in cooperation with Arts Midwest to bring The Big Read to communities across the country.

Support for The Big Read is provided by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation. For more information about The Big Read visit

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