NEA Celebrates Muse of Fire Premiere

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U.S. Representative Todd Tiahrt (Kansas-4th District)

U.S. Representative Todd Tiahrt (Kansas-4th District) introduced the premiere of Muse of Fire at the National Archives. Photo by Michael G. Stewart

There were no spotlights, limousines, or glamorous dresses when the documentary Muse of Fire premiered March 14 at the National Archives. Instead there were U.S. servicemen and women -- some still in uniform, some now retired -- all of them the evening's heroes. Lawrence Bridges's poignant film captures readings and testimonies from more than a dozen members of the Armed Services whose work was published in the NEA anthology, Operation Homecoming: Iraq, Afghanistan, and the Home Front in the Words of U.S. Troops and Their Families.

U.S. Representative Todd Tiahrt (Kansas-4th District) introduced the screening. "War is not what we might see on a Hollywood set," Tiahrt said. "These are real men and women, heroes but not superheroes. . . . In sharing their stories, they give us a glimpse of how the human soul reacts to the atrocities of war." He was joined by Mary Foerster, The Boeing Company's vice president for business support, communications, and community affairs, who voiced her company's ongoing support for the NEA's work with military families.

U.S. Representatives Joseph Knollenberg (Michigan- 9th District) and Tom Tancredo (Colorado-6th District) also attended the screening.

Both the Operation Homecoming anthology, published by Random House, and the documentary feature excerpts from more than 1,200 entries submitted by returning soldiers and their families on the home front. Poet Marilyn Nelson, novelist Jeff Shaara, and other writers who served as mentors at the Operation Home- coming workshops also appear in the film.

NEA Chairman Dana Gioia, Shaara, anthology editor Andrew Carroll, and anthology contributor Army Captain Ryan Kelly took the stage for a question-and-answer session after the screening.

Muse of Fire will be screened on military bases and at select film festivals. Copies of the documentary also will be donated to nearly 500 military base libraries, schools, and education centers.