by Ben Steelman
As part of its activities to help mark the upcoming 10th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, the Cape Fear Volunteer Center in Wilmington is contributing to Operation Paperback.
A nationwide non-profit founded in 1999, Operation Paperback collects used books to distribute to members of the U.S. armed forces, overseas or in remote bases, and to their families.
Any type of book can be used. Some will go to soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines for recreational reading, to be passed out at USO centers and USO airport transport points; some will go to miltiary families. Otherw will be distributed at veterans’ hospitals.
Operation Paperback, I found out, does a lot of useful stuff. It collects “homework” books for the military’s “Professional Reading Lists,” to help officers and NCOs with their career development. It obtains specific books for miltiary chaplains to help families cope with members returning from combat zones and to help with military marriage retreats and marriage counseling. It obtains children’s books so military dads overseas can record DVDs and “read” to their children long-distance.
Here’s Operation Paperback’s website: www.operationpaperback.org/.
Annie Anthony, executive director of the Cape Fear Volunteer Center, said her group will be collecting books for troops, veterans and their families, for now, at its office at 1213 Culbreth Drive, Suite 233, in the Landfall Executive Suites — not far from the Northeast Regional Library.
wOther collection sites will be set up around town next month, Anthony said, as part of the run-up to the citywide 9/11 Day of Remebrance.
For more information, call the group at 392-8180 or visit its website at (Here’s an idea: Friends of the Library will hold its “Beach Reads” used paperback book sale from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, July 16, at the Northeast Regional Library, 1241 Military Cutoff Road. All books will be 50 cents each — a great time for some patriot to drop by and stock up on books to be passed along to the troops. Both Operation Paperback and the local library system would benefit.)
Anthony said the Volunteer Center is planning an array of activities to honor the memory of the 9/11 dead, including passing out hundreds of small American flags for memorial events.
They’ve also set a goal of collecting 1,000 used coats for Save the Montagnard People Inc. The Hmong, or Montagnards, were a tribal ethnic group in South Vietnam. During the Vietnam conflict, they sided with U.S. forces and formed close alliances with the Speical Forces (Green Berets).
When the Communists took over South Vietnam, the Hmong suffered serious reprisals, and many immigrated to the United States — there are large Hmong communities in the Asheboro and Greensboro areas.
Anthony said that many of these refugees, who moved from a primitive culture to 20th century America, are still in need. Meanwhile, the former Green Berets who often looked after them here are aging and not able to do as much as they used to, so extra help would be appreciated.
Which reminded me: Former Wilmington author Ellyn Bache (“Safe Passage,” “The Art of Saying Goodbye”) wrote a non-fiction book, “Culture Clash,” based on her journals of sponsoreing a Hmong family of refugees in the Greensboro area, before she and her late husband Terry moved to the Port City. A 1996 reprint of “Culture Clash” is available through Amazon.com.