When it comes to war, peace keeping, nation building and the like, those in the military don't get a say in making the policies that they are expected to enforce and support. They get orders and carry them out - no matter how routine or how difficult. It can be easy to forget that while these men and women in uniform are serving and protecting the country on our behalf they are more than tools of the government, they are people with lives and commitments, concerns and fears. They are citizens of the population that
they protect.

letters-pic-ian.jpgOn Nov. 16-18, Givens Performing Arts Center at UNC Pembroke presents Letters From Home, a play that brings to life actual letters written by military members who have served in the Middle East and reveals what goes on in the hearts and minds of those who serve.

"I think that the audience will see, or have an opportunity to better see, what is in the hearts of soldiers," said Tasha Oxendine, director of marketing at Givens Performing Arts Center.

"That they are not just soldiers fighting for their country but these are fathers, these are sons and daughters, these are neighbors, mothers and fathers. They are people who are protecting the country, but they will see what they are feeling while their lives have been put on hold to defend the country."

The production gets its inspiration from the New York Times op-ed article "The Things They Wrote" and the HBO documentary that followed - Last Letters Home. Careful to keep politics out of the picture, the play uses a minimal amount of props, and relies heavily on its actors to convey the feelings being expressed in the letters.

"Collectively, the production gives voice to a generation that went to war against terrorism," said Oxendine. "To see these letters put to a theatrical tone in a play is a very rich way to portray people who have put their lives on the line. It will be an interesting evening."

The topic of war and deployment can be quite heavy but Oxendine suggests that there will be a variety of letters to portray more than just the tragedy of war, but also tender moments.

"I think it is going to be very heartfelt. I think people will come away with a different view than what they have seen and heard previously."

In a community with such a large military population, Oxendine is hopeful that it will shed light on the kind of life that service members lead.

"I talked to one vet (about the performance) and he had been injured in the war," said Oxendine. "But he said he felt like it was something that was good for the young people to hear. I thought that was an interesting view... for him to say he felt like it was something that they need to know about."

Tickets are between $5 and $20. Show time is 8 p.m. Check out
www.uncp.edu/gpac or call
or (800)367-0778 for more info.

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