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Library adapts its annual Veterans Salute to different format

By Mike Genet mike.genet@examiner.net

In lieu of one Veterans Salute day, with hundreds of people meeting in-person, the Mid-Continent Public Library’s 25th anniversary salute for 2020 stretches to Veterans Day on Nov. 11 and is being celebrated virtually.

For a couple weeks now, lasting into November, the library has been posting a series of interviews with Korean War veterans on the library’s MCPL360 Facebook page and its YouTube channel.

Dylan Little, left, interviews Bill Rosanbalm as part of Mid-Continent Public Library’s virtual Veterans Salute series. [Submitted photo]

“There’s a lot that goes into a large event like the Veterans Salute. We knew it would be the 25th, and based on input of veterans who’d been a part of it, we wanted to recognize our Korean War veterans,” said Dylan Little, Mid-Continent community programming manager.

With the help of area filmmaker Kevin Bryce, Little sat down over the summer with four metro area veterans of the Korean War years – George Miller, Bill Rosanbalm, Johnnie Cheatom and Bernie Brownstein – talking with them about their stories from around the world. Some had participated previously in the Veterans Salute; some they found as referrals.

Little said the interviews are similar in approach to the veterans’ stories in series by renowned documentary filmmaker Ken Burns, while obviously not as grand.

“This isn’t anything near those in scope and scale,” Little said, “but one thing I believe is we have a chance to learn four distinct stories, and four distinct personalities.”

For Nov. 11, he said, all interview chapters will be rendered into a complete series that will be posted.

Traditionally, Mid-Continent has handed out commemorative pins to veterans as part of the Veterans Salute. With no large, in-person event this year, the library is offering pins for curbside pick-up at any library branch. Any can call a library branch and arrange for a pickup time. The library can also mail some to veterans organizations for their own distribution.

Last week, Little said, the library had distributed about 300 pins in the first several days. It had about 2,000 pins to hand out through Nov. 11, while supplies last.

For a veterans organization, assisted living or skilled nursing facility to receive a number of pins to give to members or residents, email rforster@mymcpl.org. 

Veterans Salute travel mugs and T-shirts are also available to order at: mcpl.threadless.com/. Proceeds will support future Veterans Salute events.