National Endowment for the Arts' National Initiative
June 5, 2006
Washington, D.C. — Today’s issue of The New Yorker features writings that resulted from the NEA National Initiative, Operation Homecoming: Writing the Wartime Experience, a unique program that preserves the stories and reflections of U.S. military personnel who served in Afghanistan and Iraq and their families. These writings – including journal entries, letters, short stories, and e-mails sent to friends and family from the front – are among more than 100 that will be featured in an anthology, to be released by Random House Publishing Group in September 2006. The book also will be given to military installations, schools, and libraries.
The Arts Endowment is pleased that writings from Operation Homecoming are being presented in The New Yorker, which has a tradition of publishing fine fiction and nonfiction. These writings sprang from the NEA program Operation Homecoming, whichbrought distinguished writers – including Tobias Wolff, Tom Clancy, Jeff Shaara, Marilyn Nelson, Bobbie Ann Mason, and Mark Bowden – to conduct writing workshops at 25 domestic and overseas military installations from April 2004 through July 2005. Operation Homecoming also offered an open call for writing submissions to troops who have served since 9/11, along with their spouses and families. That call resulted in more than 10,000 pages of submissions.
“The Operation Homecoming anthology presents a stark and powerful composite, full of passionate, diverging individual accounts,” said NEA Chairman Dana Gioia. “These stories are personal, emotional, and focused. These testimonies seem precise because they are individual and authentic. We are both pleased and proud that The New Yorker shares our conviction that this is an important project.”
In addition to the anthology, Operation Homecoming will preserve all submissions in a federal government archive. A television documentary on Operation Homecoming will air on PBS in 2007. The NEA also has produced educational resources to encourage troops and their families to write about their experiences. The Operation Homecoming CD features recordings of war letters, poems, fiction, and memoirs from the Civil War to the Vietnam War. Copies of the Operation Homecoming CD can be ordered free of charge through the NEA Publications section at www.arts.gov/pub. Educational essays on writing, streaming video of Operation Homecoming writing workshops, and audio clips from the CD are available at www.operationhomecoming.org.
Operation Homecoming has been administered by the NEA in partnership with the Southern Arts Federation. The initiative was made possible by generous support from The Boeing Company, which has helped the NEA bring numerous quality arts and arts education programs to military communities nationwide and overseas.
About the National Endowment for the Arts
This year, the National Endowment for the Arts marks its 40th anniversary of leadership in the arts. The NEA is a public agency dedicated to supporting excellence in the arts – both new and established – bringing the arts to all Americans, and providing leadership in arts education. Established by Congress in 1965 as an independent agency of the federal government, the Arts Endowment is the largest national funder of the arts, bringing great art to all 50 states, including rural areas, inner cities, and military bases.
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