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Tim O'Brien - Acceptance Speech at the 2013 Liberty Gala
Tim O'Brien accepted the Pritzker Military Museum & Library Literature Award for Lifetime Achievement in Military Writing at the 2013 Liberty Gala in Chicago on November 16, 2013.
The award was presented by the Pritzker Military Museum & Library Founder and Chair, Jennifer N. Pritzker. She was joined on stage by previous award winners: Sir Max Hastings, Rick Atkinson, Allan Millett and Gerhard Weinberg.
As a part of his acceptance speech, O'Brien shared a touching story about a letter he received from an elementary school teacher from his hometown in Minneapolis, Minnesota. In the letter, the school teacher recounts memories of her father as she was growing up. He was a Vietnam War veteran and for years held on to his experiences from the war. At dinner, her letter said, he wouldn't speak at all and his face would be red and tense.
It wasn't until after he read one of O'Brien's books, The Things They Carried, that he began to open up and finally share his experiences with his family. O'Brien goes on to say that he didn't write this book to help people, he wrote it to get his thoughts out. His experiences, exemplary mastering of prose and delivery show why he earned the Pritzker Literature Award for Lifetime Achievement in Military Writing.
Along with his recognition citation, O'Brien also received a $100,000 honorarium and a gold medallion. O’Brien is also the winner of the National Book Award, the Chicago Tribune Heartland Award, the Prix du Meilleur Livre Etranger, the National Magazine Award and the Katherine Anne Porter Award. His works include: If I Die in a Combat Zone, Box Me Up and Ship Me Home and Going After Cacciato.