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Liberty News

Forensics Team honors local veterans with dramatic reading

March 31, 2017 : By Drew Menard/Liberty University News Service

A poignant reminder of the struggle and sacrifice veterans made for our country cut through the air at Monument Terrace in downtown Lynchburg on Friday as members of Liberty University’s Forensics Team performed a dramatic reading. Six students read from the script for “A Piece of My Heart,” a play by Shirley Lauro about the women, largely unheard of, who served in Vietnam. Monument Terrace is a war memorial featuring 139 steps with sculptures and markers along the way. It commemorates the local heroes who fought and died in various wars.

For 797 weeks in a row, local veterans and supporters of our nation's military have gathered at the foot of the memorial every Friday for a troop rally to honor all members of the armed forces, past and present. The students' reading was especially significant because the inaugural National Vietnam Veterans Day was held this week on March 29. Liberty’s performance — which highlighted the struggles of serving overseas, returning home from war unwelcomed, and enduring post-traumatic stress disorder — evoked strong emotion from the crowd, bringing many to tears. For some, it even served as a catalyst to deal with distress.

(Photos by Kevin Manguiob)“For years I’ve been hiding in my memories … coming here today and presenting the play that they did, it helped me to get back on track and brought the memories up, and now I can deal with them,” said George Murphy, a Purple Heart Vietnam veteran. “I’m grateful, very grateful. It really means a lot.”

Veteran Michelle Harvey, who served in the U.S. Army in the 1990s, approached the students immediately after the performance to thank them for sharing such a powerful message.

“They did a wonderful job,” she said. “They brought tears to my eyes, because being a female veteran, you know, we went through a lot and that really isn’t exposed. To see that and to hear that really touched my heart.”

This was the first time the team members had performed the piece for veterans, though they won a national championship for the same reading on March 20 at the National Christian College Forensics Invitational in Phoenix, Ariz. (Liberty claimed eight individual and three team awards in that tournament.)

Sophomore Lindsey Ball, one of the performers, was honored to be able to share the dramatic reading with American heroes.

“We’ve been giving this performance in front of college students from all across the nation but today it became very real,” Ball said. “It’s one thing to say these words, and it’s another thing to stand in front of people who have lived through this and be able to convey some of what they went through. It was a very humbling moment to know that we were given the opportunity to share some of the hurt they have gone through with them.”

She added that she hopes the veterans felt welcome and appreciated.

“When they came back from this war, that wasn’t the greeting they got. As a later generation, it was a chance for us to look back at them and say, ‘While you might not have been welcomed then, we welcome you.’ And our generation, I hope, takes the opportunity to embrace these veterans who are still living in our local communities.”

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