As a writer, I don’t often get a chance to be with people as they experience my creative work. It’s hard to quietly sit and watch people read. They generally don’t tolerate it. Even as a photographer, I’ve only been present when two or three people at a time have seen my photographs. Last night, watching 140 people experience the premiere of the documentary West Virginia Voices of War was nerve-wracking. I didn’t sit down the entire time. I stood in the back of the room and paced, holding my breath when an emotional high point was coming up, hoping it affected everyone in the room the way I expected.
The idea of putting together a project like West Virginia Voices of War grew from a number of different sources, but it was definitely a step out of “what I have done before”. That said, it was far from a solitary project. I owe a great deal of thanks to my family and friends for helping out, especially when it came time to roll it out: getting refreshments for the reception, distributing books, putting out more chairs when it became readily apparent about 15 minutes before we were ready to start that there weren’t enough—that’s a great problem to have.
Thanks also to the sponsors who made the event possible: Emmanuel Baptist Church for providing the venue and Industrial Bolting Technologies; Ray Winton and Kelley PLLC; Mr. and Mrs. Richard Sinclair; JD and Becky Pauley and; Danny Blairfor their donations. Their contributions allowed me to give copies of the book Common Valorand a DVD of the documentary to each of the veterans I interviewed, along with a recording of their interview. They also paid for the refreshments, flyers, letters and publicity postcards. Without their help, the premiere would not have been nearly as successful.
A big thank you goes out to Jeff Ellis as well for allowing me to use his song The Line in both the opening and closing of the documentary. Listen to it and see why it was so perfect for this project.
Veterans groups interested in showing the documentary as a fundraiser should contact me and we will set up a time.
Finally, thank you to all veterans, those I interviewed and all the rest, for your service..