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First Annual Author Event Celebrates the Power of Storytelling and U.S. History (2023)

Updated: Feb 13



On Thursday, September 21, The Alexandria Library Foundation held a celebration of local history and storytelling: The First Annual Author Presentation and Reception.


The event marked the anniversary of the end of US involvement in the Vietnam War and the 50th year since our POWs returned home from Southeast Asia. It also raised funds in support of the Alexandria Library.


At the center of the presentation were local writer Taylor Baldwin Kiland, co-author Judy Silverstein Gray, and their recently published book, Unwavering: The Wives Who Fought to Ensure No Man is Left Behind. The book tells the story of military wives who refused to stay silent, ensuring that the fates of MIAs and POWs in Vietnam became a national concern.



Held at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Alexandria, Councilman John Taylor Chapman emceed the evening. He opened with welcoming remarks including tributes to members of the military, military families, and the important work of our Foundation. Chapman asked all the Vietnam Vets in the audience to stand up before introducing Dr. John M. Moeller, Deputy to the Garrison Commander of Fort Belvoir, Virginia.


During the presentation, author Kiland led a panel engaging guests whose stories were featured in the book.

 

"[The Honorable Everett] Alvarez [Jr.] and the POW and MIA family members that have joined us this evening play a role in our book, a story about a small group of women, in the 1960s, who did what few women in that era could. They bucked tradition and, in fighting for the men they loved, forever changed U.S. foreign policy."

— Author Taylor Kiland Baldwin


Featured guests included Vietnam POW family members Emilee Reynolds and Ann Mills-Griffiths, and the second longest-held POW in North Vietnam, The Honorable Everett Alvarez, Jr., as well as Kiland's co-author, Gray. You can find additional event photos here and video of the presentation and panel discussion here.



Attracting nearly 100 people, the presentation and reception gave those in attendance an opportunity to explore local and national history, while reflecting on an important piece of the American experience.

 

“Not only does this new book mark an important time in U.S. history,” said Foundation Board President Trudi Bellardo Hahn, “it also illustrates the power of the written and spoken word.”


Rose Dawson, Alexandria Library Director, closed the event by thanking everyone for their contributions to support programs offered in the community, including the purchase of a van that will offer outreach services around the city. Through the generosity of both attendees and sponsors, this inspiring event raised over $33,000. The proceeds go to needed materials and programs at our Library.


Dawson also asked everyone to stay tuned. “In 2024, we are celebrating the 85th Anniversary of the nation’s first Library Sit-In, a peaceful protest of civil rights violations in 1939. I invite you all here to join us as we tell that story.”


Thank you to the sponsors of our First Annual Author Presentation and Reception, whose generous contributions helped make the success of this event possible:


Alexandria Restaurant Partners | Comcast

Friends of the Beatley Central Library

Alexandria Toyota | MOAA Foundation

Truist Foundations and Endowments Specialty Practice

Alexandria Hyundai | Commonwealth Academy | Lindsay Volvo Cars of Alexandria


An additional thanks to our in-kind sponsors:

Scavone Photography | The Zebra Press


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