BHS and Queensborough Community College hosted a reading and discussion last Saturday of Tim O’Brien’s The Things They Carried, a collection of short stories about a platoon of American soldiers in the Vietnam War. This event was part of The Big Read, an initiative of the National Endowment for the Arts designed to encourage reading and cultural conversation.
Joseph Giannini, Joan Furey, and Anthony Wallace, three veterans featured in BHS’s exhibit In Our Own Words: Portraits of Brooklyn Vietnam Veterans, read from their own writings and generously shared stories about their experiences in Vietnam, coming home, coping with post-traumatic stress, and what they continue to carry emotionally.
Listen to excerpts from the event:
Michele Cuomo and Anida Pobric from Queensborough Community College read from O’Brien’s story “Good Form”
Joan Furey talks about her experiences as a nurse in the Post-OP/ICU at the 71st Evacuation Hospital in Pleiku, Vietnam 1969 – 1970, what it was like to work in a regular hospital in the U.S. after that experience, and she reads from her book Visions of War, Dreams of Peace, an anthology of poetry and prose by women who served in Vietnam co-edited with Linda VanDevanter.
Joseph Giannini commanded a rifle platoon that was part of the Special Landing Force in Vietnam, he talks about loosing half his platoon, how surfing helped him begin to heal, parallels between his experiences and what men and women currently serving in Iraq and Afghanistan are going through, and he reads an excerpt from a short story he wrote called “Interval”.
Anthony Wallace entered the military in 1969, he talks about why he chose to enter Noncommissioned Officers school, and describes the 90+ pounds of equipment and supplies he carried in his rucksack, as well as the memories and emotions he carries with him after surviving an attack that left 25 US wounded and seven dead.
Anthony, Joseph, and Joan talk about their experiences Coming Home from war:
More comments and questions about women in the military: