Looking into the past helps inform our future

  • Posted: Sunday, July 7, 2013 12:01 a.m.

SALISBURY — The subject of history often gets a bad rep. While some might see it as a waste of time or even boring, learning about American history can actually be beneficial to understanding today’s society and prove quite interesting, to boot. Rowan Public Library has several resources that can assist you in digging deeper into our nation’s past.

Have you ever heard of a place in the U.S. that goes by the nicknames “Atomic City” and “The Secret City”? Well, I had not until I came across a book at the library called “The Girls of Atomic City.” The author, Denise Kiernan, does a remarkable job telling the story of Oak Ridge, Tenn., where 75,000 people (mostly women) crowded into a small hamlet just outside of Knoxville to work on a top-secret project during World War II. The majority of the people who lived and worked in this seemingly non-existent town were involved in enriching uranium for use in the Manhattan Project, which produced the first atomic bomb. Kiernan interviewed as many of these women as she could (some well into their 80s) to tell this fascinating and little-known story.

Sometimes we don’t appreciate what we have until it’s gone. That can easily be said about America’s World War I veterans. Did you know that nearly 5 million Americans fought in what is still known as the Great War? The last American veteran, Frank Buckles, died just two years ago at the age of 110. Now there is no one remaining who can tell us what it was like to serve and fight in that particularly savage conflict. Fortunately, we can still read about American veterans’ experiences in that war. In the early 2000s, Richard Rubin traveled across the country interviewing veterans from World War I who were still able to tell their stories even as they reached centenarian (100+ in age) or super centenarian (110+ in age) status. Rubin’s recently released book, “The Last of the Doughboys,” is a fascinating read, made even more so because every one of those veterans are no longer with us.

Sometimes historical events and places are not marked or recognized in any form or fashion. Take for instance the train platform in New Jersey where Edwin Booth (brother of John Wilkes Booth) saved the life of Robert Todd Lincoln (the son of Abraham Lincoln). Does that site still exist or is it marked in any way? Do people walk by every day without realizing that a historical event occurred right below their feet? Andrew Carroll was always curious about that particular event and made himself a note to find out the answers one day. Over the years, that note was followed by several more and Carroll decided to travel around the country seeking out these places. “Here is Where: Discovering America’s Great Forgotten History” tells the story of his interesting quest for answers.

As we celebrate a key event in our nation’s history this month, let’s not forget that we can always discover new things about our past. Stop by Rowan Public Library and take a fresh look at history.

Summer movie series — Headquarters, Tuesdays, 6:30 p.m.; Tuesday, “How to Eat Fried Worms” (PG); July 16, “Journey to the Center of the Earth” (PG); July 23, “Calendar Girls” (PG-13); July 30, “The Neverending Story” (PG).

East branch, Mondays, 4 p.m.; Monday, “How to Eat Fried Worms” (PG); July 15, “Journey to the Center of the Earth” (PG); July 22, “Holes” (PG); July 29, “The Neverending Story” (PG).

South Regional, Wednesdays, 2 p.m.; Wednesday, “How to Eat Fried Worms” (PG); July 17, “Journey to the Center of the Earth” (PG); July 24, “Holes” (PG); July 31, “The Neverending Story” (PG).

Movies are free and all ages are welcome. Children should be accompanied by an adult. Movies run through Aug. 20. Free popcorn and lemonade.

Children’s summer reading program — Rowan Public Library’s “Dig Into Reading” weekly programs run through Aug. 1 for children ages 12 months to rising fifth-graders.

Tiny Treasures: 12- to 24-month-olds, each program lasts about 30 minutes and runs for four weeks. Headquarters, Wednesdays, 10 a.m.; East Branch, Mondays, 10 a.m.; South Branch, Thursdays, 10:30 a.m.

Little Diggers: 2-year-olds, Each program lasts about 30 minutes and runs for four weeks. Headquarters, Thursdays, 10:30 a.m.; East, Tuesdays, 10:30 a.m.; South, Wednesday, 10:30 a.m.

Fossil Finders: 3- to 5-year-olds, each program lasts 30-45 minutes and runs for seven weeks. Headquarters, Tuesdays, 10:30 a.m.; East, Thursdays, 10:30 a.m.; South, Mondays, 10:30 a.m.

Paleontologists: Rising first- through fifth-graders, programs last about 45 minutes and runs for seven weeks. Headquarters, Wednesdays, 2 p.m.; East, Wednesdays, 10:30 a.m.; South, Tuesdays, 10:30 a.m. Cleveland Town Hall, Thursdays, 10:30 a.m.

July 8-11: Flows Circus, variety show.

July 22-25: Discovery Place Science Reach, A Matter of Science.

July 29-Aug. 1: Blue Moon Puppets, Pea Pickin’ Tales.

Beneath the Surface teen summer reading: Rising sixth- through 12th-graders will explore the underground through fun events, activities and reading “Beneath the Surface.”

All teen programs are through July 25 for sixth- through 12th-graders. Programs will be 3:30-5 p.m. at all locations: Tuesday, Headquarters; Wednesday, East; Thursday, South.

Winners of raffles will be announced at the end-of-summer Masked Ball at South Branch on Aug. 1, 3:30-5 p.m.

Upcoming programs include:

Skill Toys Workshop: July 9-11. Learn how to use flower sticks, a Chinese yo-yo and more.

Scratch the Surface: July 16-18. Scratch crafts and more.

Beneath Your Feet: July 24-26. Underground cities and tunnels.

For more information, check the library website at www.rowanpubliclibrary.org or call your closest RPL location — Headquarters, 704-216-8234; South, 704-216-7728; East, 704-216-7842.

Book Bites Club: South (only), July 30, 6:30 p.m., “The Art of Racing in the Rain” by Garth Stein. Book discussion groups for adults and children meet the last Tuesday of each month. The group is open to the public and anyone is free to join at any time. There is a discussion of the book, as well as light refreshments at each meeting. For more information, please call 704-216-8229.

Displays for July: headquarters, Fiber Guild; South, water colors by Rowan Doll Society; East, photo display by Bonnie Cagle.

Literacy: Call the Rowan County Literacy Council at 704-216-8266 for more information on teaching or receiving literacy tutoring for English speakers or for those for whom English is a second language.

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