Community Stories: Soldiers Home & Away

For fourteen years, America has been mired in war, war being waged by less than one percent of the population. The relatively small number of active military service members has widened a cultural gulf between the military and civilian sectors. Enter the humanities!

New Hampshire Humanities has awarded the Friends of the Plaistow Public Library a Community Project Grant to present Community Stories: Soldiers Home & Away. This collaboration involving nine southern New Hampshire libraries and Timberlane Regional School District is the inaugural project of what organizers envision as an annual community read. The goal is to bring communities together through a common reading experience and expand awareness and understanding of topics that touch the lives of community members. 

This year Community Stories will focus on veterans and is inspired by Tim O’Brien’s novel The Things They Carried, a fictionalized account of O’Brien’s experience serving in the Vietnam War. The Soldiers Home & Away programs will address the experience of war from military and civilian perspectives, and aim to open lines of communication, illustrate the experience of veterans and active duty personnel, and foster understanding of the men and women returning home from deployment. A variety of veterans, scholars, artists, authors, and other experts will be participating presenters. The nine partner libraries include Atkinson, Chester, Danville, Hampstead, Hudson, Newton, Salem, Sandown, and Plaistow. Each library has multiple copies of The Things They Carried to lend. 

An astounding array of humanities and other programs, from book/film discussions and lectures to the landing of a Black Hawk helicopter and a veterans ball, will take place between September 16 and November 12. All programs are free and open to the public; however, some may require pre-registration and the number of attendees may be limited. Details about Community Stories: Soldiers Home & Away, a full schedule of events and other details are available at For more information, please contact project director Brianna Sullivan at 382-6011.

This project complements New Hampshire Humanities’ ongoing special initiative Standing Together: The Humanities and the Experience of War.

New Hampshire Humanities welcomes Community Project Grant proposals from non-profit organizations on a variety of topics. Learn more at


Photo credit: AP Photo/Henri Huet, South Vietnam, 1965