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Rowan Public Library Invites Community to Welcome Home Celebration

SALISBURY – Rowan Public Library will honor U.S. veterans at a “Welcome Home” celebration from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday.

The free program is open to the public and will be held in Stanback Auditorium and the Hurley Room at the Headquarters Library, 201 W. Fisher St.

All ages are welcome.

The celebration is the culmination of a three-month-long programming arc centering on the Vietnam War.

RPL is one of two N.C. public libraries selected by the American Library Association in partnership with WETA in Washington to receive a programming kit for “The Vietnam War,” a 10-part documentary film by Ken Burns and Lynn Novick that aired on PBS this fall.

The library has 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 programs such as “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 a Book Talk program on Tim O’Brien’s book “The Things They Carried.”

The “Welcome Home” celebration incorporates many elements from the earlier programs and includes exhibits, a reception, period music and guest speakers.

“Through a Soldier’s Eyes: Remembering Vietnam” features photographs from the personal collections of local veterans. First shown in 2011, the exhibition received the North Carolina Public Library Director Association’s “Outstanding Adult Program” award that year.

Now, “Through a Soldier’s Eyes” complements displays in the Link Gallery and Hurley Room that showcase Vietnam-era artifacts from local veterans and related items. The Link Gallery display opened in October and closes this weekend.

The Hurley Room exhibits, which feature items from Glenn Hinson, will be shown only during the celebration, as will a Vietnam-era Jeep owned by Bobby Harrison, which will be parked on the library lawn.

All of the exhibits will be available to the public beginning at 11 a.m. Saturday. Refreshments will be available at that time, including doughnuts donated by Krispy Kreme and bakery items and coffee donated by Better Loafing Artisan Bread Co.

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 his church and community and was recently inducted into the Order of the Long Leaf Pine, an award conferred by the governor that recognizes exemplary public service in the state.

Owen is a Vietnam War veteran who is also active in his 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 about 90 minutes.

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 5 p.m.

Welcome Home is intended to be a community event that offers area veterans and the public an opportunity for fellowship, learning and honoring. All ages are invited to participate.

For more information, visit www.rowanpubliclibrary.org or contact your nearest library branch.

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