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Telling War Stories Project

The Telling War Stories project was originally meant to be the catalyst for establishing a journal of short stories written by soldiers for soldiers with lessons learned from our War on Terror embedded in them like morals in a fable. Our generation's heroes will tell their stories eventually, so why not provide a way for their stories to be heard now, while they are still "one of us" and not disgruntled "heroes" eager to hear their opinions publicly voiced. Though a journal was the goal, we found that acquiring the stories and the support for the project was a challenge itself. But it wasn't without precedent.

Operation Homecoming: Iraq, Afghanistan, and the Home Front, in the Words of U.S. Troops and Their Families is exactly what it claims to be: an assortment of personal essays, short stories, poems, emails, and other writings by
service members from all branches. The National Endowment for the Arts, which sponsored the program, sent out a call for papers from service members listing several good reasons for Operation Homecoming's development but none more compelling than the "historic importance, creating personal accounts of the war—from the combat zone to the home front—by individuals who would not normally be heard" (xiii). They sought to enable the troops to voice their own stories by providing 50 writing workshops that reached 25 bases in 5 countries, as well as an aircraft carrier and a fleet ship. Many prestigious writers joined this endeavor including Richard Bausch, Mark Bowden, Tom Clancy, Bobbie Ann Mason, Jeff Shaara, and Tobias Wolff.

Only a scant five percent of these submissions could be published in this 386-page anthology, leaving the rest to anonymity. And every year there are more voices begging to be heard. Carroll wrote,

But as discouraging as it is to consider what has been lost or gone unrecognized before this initiative began, now that the idea of seeking out the undiscovered literature of our nation's troops and their loved ones has taken hold, it is exhilarating to think of all that is yet to be found and of everything, ultimately, that is still to be written. (xxviii)

What is yet unwritten requires help for the authors of such writings and needs a place to call home.


Telling War Stories: Execution - 2