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Veterans become “books” at Real Life Library in Madison

MADISON (WKOW) Madison’s Central Library had a different take on Veterans Day this year.

Today, the “books” talked to you.

“Being able to tell your stories in a room setting like this, where you’re close together like a family again, it’s what makes it easier and more comfortable to do,” Ray Trent, an Army veteran, said.

Trent served in the US Army from 1983 to 2010.

The Madison veteran was one of about a dozen veteran “books,” sharing their stories from their military careers.

His story: notifying families that their soldier wouldn’t be making it home.

“It helps to relieve some pressure that’s always been inside of me, cause those are things that you see over and over at night time and in your dreams,” Trent said. “Those families coming back to you.”

Other veterans shared their stories, as Cold War submarine hunters or spending their first night in Vietnam, in jail.

It was all a part of We Help One Another’s Real Life Library series, where they hope to “elevate” others experience through storytelling.

“Even if we’re experiencing sadness together, we’re still coming together and that’s elevating,” Garrett Lee, an organizer, said.

For “readers” it was an opportunity to step into someone else’s shoes.

“I was in college during the Vietnam era, and I wasn’t paying all that much attention,” reader Teri Pfluger said. “So I’m interested in experiences from their end.”

Organizers hoped the event encouraged others to take it a step further.

“People need space to share their story and humanize their own experience,” Lee said. “If this project can inspire anything is just to reach out to a veteran and listen to their story.”

For Trent, it was the right way to spend his Veterans Day.

“It makes me feel good that we’re appreciated for that part also,” Trent said. “The things that have not been seen or told.”

This was the sixth version of the Real Life Library that We Help One Another has put on and they hope to keep doing them on different topics.

If you missed out on this one but hope to hear the veterans stories, WHOA is in the process of making a video version. Click here for more information on the organization.

Francisco Almenara

Reporter, WKOW

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