OUR VIEW: 'Tupelo Reads' reflects best of city's spirit

By NEMS Daily Journal

“Tuesdays with Morrie” created a sensation when it came out in 1997, and the book has lived on beyond the initial stir to become something of a modern-day classic.
The reason is simple: It speaks to people’s desire to live meaningful and fulfilling lives, and it does so in a powerful way – through the conversations of a dying professor, Morrie Schwartz, and his former student, Mitch Albom, the book’s author.
It’s a short but serious book that bridges the generations and speaks to the common good. That makes it particularly appropriate as a vehicle for the first “Tupelo Reads: We’re All on the Same Page” celebration.
The month-long event kicks off today at 11:30 a.m. with a review of the book by Jack Reed Sr. at the Lee County Library. A Sept. 11 event at the library, which will also serve as the city’s commemoration of the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, will feature Vanderbilt University Professor of Philosophy John Lachs, who will reflect on the themes of life, love and death in “Tuesdays with Morrie.” On Sept. 20, again at the library, a panel will discuss the medical, ethical and spiritual aspects of the book.
The celebration rounds out with a screening of the television movie based on the book and starring Jack Lemmon on Sept. 27 in Fairpark and a two-man play Sept. 29-Oct.1 presented by the Tupelo Community Theatre.
This extraordinary series of events offers Tupelo a chance to come together in purposeful reflections on subjects relevant to everyone’s life, and on which everyone in this age of political and social divisiveness can find common ground.
Mayor Jack Reed Jr.’s and his task force on education – along with the leadership of the mayor’s wife Lisa Reed and Dr. Ed Hill – have developed the program with the hope that, in the mayor’s words, it will help spotlight the public spiritedness Tupelo has always prided itself in and “really set ourselves apart as a community that celebrates lifelong learning.” The goal also is to spur interest in an annual event of similar scope and purpose in the future.
Community unity and cohesiveness doesn’t happen without intentional effort. The “Tupelo Spirit” so often referred to in discussions of the city’s successful past is the product of decades of such intentionality in building civic, educational and governmental institutions that work to bring people together in common identity and purpose.
“Tupelo Reads: We’re All on the Same Page” is squarely in that spirit, and it provides a prime opportunity to reaffirm Tupelo’s sense of connection and community.