A Message about Heroes from CEO Julia Whitehead

“Our hero was catapulted
into history and his destiny. The Battle of the Bulge began today 75 years
ago in 1944.”
Bill Selm

I love it when historian and Kurt Vonnegut Museum and Library (KVML) member Bill Selm refers to Kurt Vonnegut as “our hero.” Bill doesn’t know it, but he is also our hero. He shares with us all he knows about Kurt, his family history, the buildings Kurt’s grandfather and father built, and more. Bill spoke at our grand opening about the history of our new building at 543 Indiana Avenue, and it’s because of Bill’s speech that we are calling our outdoor exhibit “Arlene’s House of Music and Imperial Lounge.” Arlene Manson housed her record store and jazz lounge in part of this building in the second half of the twentieth century. Vonnegut’s words will be incorporated into the exhibit, but now that we have a building in this historic district, we can highlight all sorts of special things about its rich history.

I mentioned December
16 as the start of the Battle of the Bulge. It was also the birthday of
another one of our heroes, Mickey Maurer. Mickey and his wife Janie
not only contributed financially to our building this year but encouraged
others to do the same, recognizing this extraordinary opportunity for our Board
to reach its goals for the organization.

James Pattison of England is one of our heroes, volunteering
not just hours of research and social media posts but also his interior
painting skills. James traveled to Indiana for two weeks just to help us
get our building ready for Freedom to Read Week. Who does that? Our Vonnegut
Library heroes do that, that’s who.

Comedian Lewis Black is one of our heroes, along with his colleague Jen Hegarty. Then there are the many volunteers who help staff our library along with our employees: Beth Ann Broadhurst, Chuck Wuthrich, Kathleen Angelone, Ricco Schuster, and others who perform a host of tasks. Our professionals from Loftus Engineering, Mike Engledow of ArcDesign, National Bank of Indianapolis, Ben Pecar of Barnes & Thornburg, Linda Brundage and Curt Chuvalas of Nogginwerks, and Tommy Hutsell of Shiel Sexton put in countless hours this year. Thanks, too, to all the lawyers in the city who protect us from scammers and other ne’er-do-wells. Ed Battista of Bluebeard, who is setting up a second location in our building in early spring, provided hours of guidance and donated catering. Author and historian Aleta Hodge and Paula Brooks, Judy Thomas of the Madam Walker Legacy Center, and our friends at Visit Indy and the Mayor’s Office—THANK YOU! All of our board members, donors, staff, volunteers, honorary and advisory board members, and community partners—we couldn’t have created Kurt’s Forever Home without your help.

I’ll end with one last story about the hero of our karass. Last week, a woman wrote to us about a podcast called Code Switch in which Kurt’s name is mentioned in relation to a dark spot in our nation’s history called Reverse Freedom Rides. I listened to the podcast wondering what on earth Kurt’s role was. Teary-eyed, I came away from the program further appreciating Our Hero Kurt Vonnegut—not a perfect human, but a good man, a very good man. Kurt created while others tried to destroy.

We at the KVML are still creating, too. Please come out and help us by volunteering a couple of hours a week, donating, or spreading the word about the good work we do. Please add your name to our list of heroes.

Happy Holidays, Heroes!


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