Thursday, January 31, 2013

Journal to launch 12-day Station Fire series Feb. 10

On Sunday, February 10, 2013, The Providence Journal will begin a 12-day series marking the tenth anniversary of the Station Nightclub fire. With daily front-page stories, film, multi-media, social media, still images and a major online presence allowing everyone to participate, we will explore the dimensions of the tragedy that killed 100 and injured more than 200 -- while, first and foremost, honoring the people who were affected in so many ways and still are.

In the works since last year, this commemorative series is being produced by a team of writers, photographers and editors -- most of whom have been on the story since it first broke , and our night-shift reporter on that Feb. 20, 2003, Karen Lee Ziner, was among the first members of the media on the scene. The hundreds of stories and photographs we published in 2003 alone made The Journal a finalist in the 2004 Pulitzer Prize for Public Service. For ten years, we have taken our duties and responsibilities seriously and with solemn purpose.

Read a story I wrote11 days after the fire that captured the state of our state.

Monday, January 21, 2013

President Obama's Inaugural Address: Jan. 21, 2013

From the White House Press office, the text of the president's speech at the 57th presidential inauguration:

Office of the Press Secretary
January 21, 2013

Remarks of President Barack Obama – As Prepared for Delivery
Inaugural Address
Monday, January 21, 2013
Washington, DC

As Prepared for Delivery –

Vice President Biden, Mr. Chief Justice, Members of the United States Congress, distinguished guests, and fellow citizens: 

Each time we gather to inaugurate a president, we bear witness to the enduring strength of our Constitution.  We affirm the promise of our democracy.  We recall that what binds this nation together is not the colors of our skin or the tenets of our faith or the origins of our names.  What makes us exceptional – what makes us American – is our allegiance to an idea, articulated in a declaration made more than two centuries ago:

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.” 

Today we continue a never-ending journey, to bridge the meaning of those words with the realities of our time.  For history tells us that while these truths may be self-evident, they have never been self-executing; that while freedom is a gift from God, it must be secured by His people here on Earth.  The patriots of 1776 did not fight to replace the tyranny of a king with the privileges of a few or the rule of a mob.  They gave to us a Republic, a government of, and by, and for the people, entrusting each generation to keep safe our founding creed. 

For more than two hundred years, we have. 

Through blood drawn by lash and blood drawn by sword, we learned that no union founded on the principles of liberty and equality could survive half-slave and half-free.  We made ourselves anew, and vowed to move forward together. 

Together, we determined that a modern economy requires railroads and highways to speed travel and commerce; schools and colleges to train our workers.

Together, we discovered that a free market only thrives when there are rules to ensure competition and fair play. 

Together, we resolved that a great nation must care for the vulnerable, and protect its people from life’s worst hazards and misfortune.

Through it all, we have never relinquished our skepticism of central authority, nor have we succumbed to the fiction that all society’s ills can be cured through government alone.  Our celebration of initiative and enterprise; our insistence on hard work and personal responsibility, are constants in our character.

But we have always understood that when times change, so must we; that fidelity to our founding principles requires new responses to new challenges; that preserving our individual freedoms ultimately requires collective action.  For the American people can no more meet the demands of today’s world by acting alone than American soldiers could have met the forces of fascism or communism with muskets and militias.  No single person can train all the math and science teachers we’ll need to equip our children for the future, or build the roads and networks and research labs that will bring new jobs and businesses to our shores.  Now, more than ever, we must do these things together, as one nation, and one people. 

This generation of Americans has been tested by crises that steeled our resolve and proved our resilience.  A decade of war is now ending.  An economic recovery has begun.  America’s possibilities are limitless, for we possess all the qualities that this world without boundaries demands:  youth and drive; diversity and openness; an endless capacity for risk and a gift for reinvention.   My fellow Americans, we are made for this moment, and we will seize it – so long as we seize it together. 

For we, the people, understand that our country cannot succeed when a shrinking few do very well and a growing many barely make it.  We believe that America’s prosperity must rest upon the broad shoulders of a rising middle class.  We know that America thrives when every person can find independence and pride in their work; when the wages of honest labor liberate families from the brink of hardship.  We are true to our creed when a little girl born into the bleakest poverty knows that she has the same chance to succeed as anybody else, because she is an American, she is free, and she is equal, not just in the eyes of God but also in our own. 

We understand that outworn programs are inadequate to the needs of our time.  We must harness new ideas and technology to remake our government, revamp our tax code, reform our schools, and empower our citizens with the skills they need to work harder, learn more, and reach higher.  But while the means will change, our purpose endures:  a nation that rewards the effort and determination of every single American.  That is what this moment requires.  That is what will give real meaning to our creed.  

We, the people, still believe that every citizen deserves a basic measure of security and dignity.  We must make the hard choices to reduce the cost of health care and the size of our deficit.  But we reject the belief that America must choose between caring for the generation that built this country and investing in the generation that will build its future.  For we remember the lessons of our past, when twilight years were spent in poverty, and parents of a child with a disability had nowhere to turn.  We do not believe that in this country, freedom is reserved for the lucky, or happiness for the few.  We recognize that no matter how responsibly we live our lives, any one of us, at any time, may face a job loss, or a sudden illness, or a home swept away in a terrible storm. The commitments we make to each other – through Medicare, and Medicaid, and Social Security – these things do not sap our initiative; they strengthen us.  They do not make us a nation of takers; they free us to take the risks that make this country great. 

We, the people, still believe that our obligations as Americans are not just to ourselves, but to all posterity.  We will respond to the threat of climate change, knowing that the failure to do so would betray our children and future generations.  Some may still deny the overwhelming judgment of science, but none can avoid the devastating impact of raging fires, and crippling drought, and more powerful storms.  The path towards sustainable energy sources will be long and sometimes difficult.  But America cannot resist this transition; we must lead it.  We cannot cede to other nations the technology that will power new jobs and new industries – we must claim its promise.  That is how we will maintain our economic vitality and our national treasure – our forests and waterways; our croplands and snowcapped peaks.  That is how we will preserve our planet, commanded to our care by God.  That’s what will lend meaning to the creed our fathers once declared.

We, the people, still believe that enduring security and lasting peace do not require perpetual war.  Our brave men and women in uniform, tempered by the flames of battle, are unmatched in skill and courage.  Our citizens, seared by the memory of those we have lost, know too well the price that is paid for liberty.  The knowledge of their sacrifice will keep us forever vigilant against those who would do us harm.  But we are also heirs to those who won the peace and not just the war, who turned sworn enemies into the surest of friends, and we must carry those lessons into this time as well.

We will defend our people and uphold our values through strength of arms and rule of law.  We will show the courage to try and resolve our differences with other nations peacefully – not because we are na├»ve about the dangers we face, but because engagement can more durably lift suspicion and fear.  America will remain the anchor of strong alliances in every corner of the globe; and we will renew those institutions that extend our capacity to manage crisis abroad, for no one has a greater stake in a peaceful world than its most powerful nation.  We will support democracy from Asia to Africa; from the Americas to the Middle East, because our interests and our conscience compel us to act on behalf of those who long for freedom.  And we must be a source of hope to the poor, the sick, the marginalized, the victims of prejudice – not out of mere charity, but because peace in our time requires the constant advance of those principles that our common creed describes:  tolerance and opportunity; human dignity and justice. 

We, the people, declare today that the most evident of truths – that all of us are created equal – is the star that guides us still; just as it guided our forebears through Seneca Falls, and Selma, and Stonewall; just as it guided all those men and women, sung and unsung, who left footprints along this great Mall, to hear a preacher say that we cannot walk alone; to hear a King proclaim that our individual freedom is inextricably bound to the freedom of every soul on Earth. 

It is now our generation’s task to carry on what those pioneers began.  For our journey is not complete until our wives, our mothers, and daughters can earn a living equal to their efforts.  Our journey is not complete until our gay brothers and sisters are treated like anyone else under the law – for if we are truly created equal, then surely the love we commit to one another must be equal as well.  Our journey is not complete until no citizen is forced to wait for hours to exercise the right to vote.  Our journey is not complete until we find a better way to welcome the striving, hopeful immigrants who still see America as a land of opportunity; until bright young students and engineers are enlisted in our workforce rather than expelled from our country.  Our journey is not complete until all our children, from the streets of Detroit to the hills of Appalachia to the quiet lanes of Newtown, know that they are cared for, and cherished, and always safe from harm. 

That is our generation’s task – to make these words, these rights, these values – of Life, and Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness – real for every American.  Being true to our founding documents does not require us to agree on every contour of life; it does not mean we will all define liberty in exactly the same way, or follow the same precise path to happiness.  Progress does not compel us to settle centuries-long debates about the role of government for all time – but it does require us to act in our time. 

For now decisions are upon us, and we cannot afford delay.  We cannot mistake absolutism for principle, or substitute spectacle for politics, or treat name-calling as reasoned debate.  We must act, knowing that our work will be imperfect.  We must act, knowing that today’s victories will be only partial, and that it will be up to those who stand here in four years, and forty years, and four hundred years hence to advance the timeless spirit once conferred to us in a spare Philadelphia hall.

My fellow Americans, the oath I have sworn before you today, like the one recited by others who serve in this Capitol, was an oath to God and country, not party or faction – and we must faithfully execute that pledge during the duration of our service.  But the words I spoke today are not so different from the oath that is taken each time a soldier signs up for duty, or an immigrant realizes her dream.  My oath is not so different from the pledge we all make to the flag that waves above and that fills our hearts with pride. 

They are the words of citizens, and they represent our greatest hope. 

You and I, as citizens, have the power to set this country’s course. 

You and I, as citizens, have the obligation to shape the debates of our time – not only with the votes we cast, but with the voices we lift in defense of our most ancient values and enduring ideals. 

Let each of us now embrace, with solemn duty and awesome joy, what is our lasting birthright.  With common effort and common purpose, with passion and dedication, let us answer the call of history, and carry into an uncertain future that precious light of freedom. 

Thank you, God Bless you, and may He forever bless these United States of America.


Thursday, January 17, 2013

Story in Public Square gets major grant support, launch approaches...

Less than three months until the launch of the Pell Center at Salve Regina University's Story in the Public Square program, with a day-long program -- and we have just received word of a major grant from the Rhode Island Council for the Humanities. Thanks to the council for this generous sign of support for our initiative, which is now nearly a year in planning! We will join fellow major grant recipients in accepting the award at a ceremony February 7 at the Providence Art Club. The evening will also serve as the official welcome for new RICH director Elizabeth Francis, who succeeds Mary-Kim Arnold, now with the Rhode Island Foundation.

I am co-director of Story in the Public Square, as a Pell Center Visiting Fellow. The Story initiative -- "Celebrating and studying public story telling in American politics" -- is in partnership with The Providence Journal, where I am a staff writer.

Online Registration for this free event, open to all, will be open soon. Hope to see you there.

And look soon for our website. Meanwhile, please follow us on Twitter: @pubstory.

The full release can be found on the Salve site. Here are some highlights:

Story in the Public Square will launch with a public conference on Friday, April 12. The day-long event will feature accomplished story-tellers, whether they are journalists, novelists, or filmmakers, a screening of the Providence Journal’s acclaimed documentary “Coming Home” about veterans returning to southeastern New England after tours of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan, keynote remarks by former Senator Gary Hart, and the presentation of the first Pell Center Prize for Story in the Public Square. A detailed description of the event follows below.

The winner of the inaugural Pell Center prize will be announced in the coming months.

“This is great news for the Pell Center and Salve Regina University,” said Jim Ludes, executive director of the Pell Center. “We’ve worked for nearly a year with our partners to organize a public program that begins with a day-long event this April and then continues with on-going research and programming that will both celebrate ethical storytelling and expose abuses. We’re very grateful to RICH for their generous support.”
G. Wayne Miller, a Providence Journal journalist, filmmaker and author, is co-directing Story in the Public Square as a visiting fellow at the Pell Center. “RICH’s support is a difference-maker for us,” he said. “Their long record of support for great projects in the humanities is a real validation of our work. We’re looking forward to the event on April 12th with real excitement and expectation.”

Additional details about the program, the Pell Center Prize, and a contest for college students will be released in the coming weeks. 

For up to the minute news on Story in the Public Square, follow @pubstory on Twitter.

The use of storytelling in the public square is as old as politics. On April 12, a panel assembling at the Pell Center will examine contemporary story-telling in the public square from many perspectives. Each panelist will be asked to share their experiences in story-telling: the impact, the reach, the perils, and the promise of this time-honored element of public dialogue. Each will be asked to explore the importance of veracity in their work. Finally, each will be asked to discuss, briefly, the best example, from their perspective, of storytelling in modern American political discourse.

Moderator for the event will be Karen Bordeleau, acting executive editor at the Providence Journal. Panelists will include: James Vincent, NAACP Providence; Christopher B. Daily, Boston University; Karen Thompson Walker, best-selling author of The Age of Miracles; Shanna Pearson-Merkowitz, University of Rhode Island; and David Boeri, WBUR.

Also planned on April 12 will be a screening of “Coming Home,” followed by a panel discussion: “War Stories.” War has been a central narrative of the human experience since before Homer’s Iliad. For Americans, the latest chapters have come since the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. In the 11 years since those attacks, nearly 50 southeastern New Englanders have died in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Thousands of veterans have returned forever changed.

In the hour-long documentary, “Coming Home,” the Providence Journal tells the deeply intimate stories of several who served, and the after-effects of combat on them and their loved ones. “Coming Home” was broadcast on PBS, and shown at the 2012 Roving Eye and Rhode Island International Film Festivals and other venues. “Coming Home” was nominated in 2012 for a New England Emmy and won a regional Edward R. Murrow Award.

Moderator for the panel discussion will be Donna Harrington-Lueker, Salve Regina University. Panelists will include John DiRaimo, Rhode Island National Guard; Iraq War veteran Lt. Col Denis J. Riel, Rhode Island Air National Guard, Director of Air Staff, Deputy Chief of Joint Staff, Rhode Island National Guard, and a war veteran of Iraq; Bob Kerr, Providence Journal columnist, narrator of “Coming Home;” Marine Corps combat veteran of Vietnam; The Hon. Elizabeth Roberts, lieutenant governor of Rhode Island; and G. Wayne Miller, Providence Journal.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

'Asad' gets Oscar Nod for Best Live Action Short

The extraordinary short film, 'Asad,' winner of the Grand Prize at the 2012 Rhode Island International Film Festival, has been nominated for an Academy Award. Congrats to the filmmakers and may they win. I can attest to the power, creativity and originality of this beautiful film: I was on the jury for this past summer's Rhode Island festival, and I gave it my highest marks.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

The Station in winter

Since the fire that killed 100 people ten years ago this February, I have visited the scene of the Station Nightclub fire in West Warwick, R.I., dozens of times, in every season. I have walked this sacred ground where these lives ended, and been transfixed every time. The site adjoins a busy road, but it always seems appropriately solemn, quiet, save for the wind that always seems to blow.

But with its clear if pale light, and the contrast of white snow against crosses and mementos, winter has always been most moving. With the settlement last year of a land dispute, the way has been cleared for a long-sought formal memorial, which one day will rise where these remembrances are now. Here are some recent photographs of the site: in January, 2013.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Soon: Story in the Public Square

With the New Year comes intensified planning for the Story in the Public Square initiative, at Salve Regina University's Pell Center for International Relations and Public Policy in Newport, Rhode Island. The Story website will go live shortly, and we will soon have announcements on the program for Story's first all-day conference, April 12, at Salve -- the student contest, our distinguished panelists, the keynote speaker and more. Story Day will be free and open to all -- the general public, students, journalists, writers, filmmakers, etc. -- but advance registration will be required, details soon....

While our website is not yet live, we do have our Twitter account and you are welcome to add it to your list: @pubstory

Some background on the Story initiative --  celebrating and studying public story telling in American politics, as we call it -- came in a lecture I gave last fall at the Pell Center. The lecture was covered in The Mosaic, Salve Regina University's Independent Student Voice.

Friday, January 4, 2013

'HUMAN HANDS' now an audiobook

January 4, 2013 

BOSTON –– Crossroad Press is pleased to announce release of the audiobook of the critically acclaimed THE WORK OF HUMAN HANDS, by G. Wayne Miller, a timeless medical journey through pioneering surgeon Dr. Hardy Hendren’s legendary operating room that the Los Angeles Times called “impossible to forget.”
Set at Boston Children’s Hospital, which U.S. News & World Report consistently rates as America’s best children’s hospital, THE WORK OF HUMAN HANDS is also available for the first time in digital format. These editions include a new introduction and expanded epilogue updating readers on Hendren and patient Lucy Moore today.
The central narrative remains an epic story of struggle against seemingly impossible odds as Hendren faces one of his biggest challenges: Lucy Moore, a fourteen-month-old girl born with life-threatening defects of the heart, central nervous system and genitourinary system. Before Hendren, surgeons regarded Lucy's condition as fatal.
But at the hands of master surgeon Hendren, she will go on to lead a normal life. And Hendren is aided in that quest by Aldo R. Castaneda, the pioneering cardiac surgeon, and R. Michael Scott, the internationally renowned neurosurgeon. Hendren, Castaneda and Scott are all affiliated with the Harvard Medical School.

The Work of Human Hands is also the story of a revered hospital, its lore, its people and their remarkable accomplishments – an example of the best of health care in America. Poignant and dramatic, lively and engrossing, with breathtaking insight into the craft of surgery, The Work of Human Hands is medical and literary journalism at its best.
“At a time when TV shows like Grey’s Anatomy and ER win huge followings for their stories, The Work of Human Hands stands out as a real-life medical drama with a cast of uniquely colorful characters,” said Crossroad publisher David N. Wilson. “We are thrilled to publish these new editions of the classic Work of Human Hands.”
Today, Lucy Moore, the 14-month-old baby who spent nearly 24 hours on Hendren’s operating table is a college graduate, fully healed and living a normal life.
Hendren performed his last surgery in 2004, when he was 78 years old, but he continues to work full-time on his non-profit W. Hardy Hendren Education Foundation for Pediatric Surgery and Urology. He still receives some of the world’s most prestigious medical honors, most recently the Jacobson Innovation Award of the American College of Surgeons, in June 2012.
The publisher and author are donating a portion of the proceeds from this edition of The Work of Human Hands to the Hendren Foundation.
The audiobook is available at The digital edition is available at Kindle/Amazon, at the Crossroad Press Digital store, on Barnes &'s Nook, iTunes, Sony, Kobo and at and EBSCO for libraries.

Praise for The Work of Human Hands:

“A song of suffering and redemption that is harrowing to read and impossible to forget... Only rarely does a work of nonfiction equal or surpass the novel in the art of story-telling, the play of emotion and the sheer grandeur of human spirit... To this short list, I must add The Work of Human Hands.”
–– Los Angeles Times

“Mr. Miller reminds us that in the hands of visionary and dedicated doctors, miracles still happen.”
––  New York Times Book Review

“At a time when so many books are telling us what is wrong with American medicine, it’s nice to see one that tells us what’s good about those who provide our care.”
–– Library Journal

“The sheer drama of it all is gripping throughout.”
–– Vermont Sunday Magazine

 G. Wayne Miller is a staff writer at The Providence Journal, a documentary filmmaker, and the author of three novels, three short story collections and seven books of non-fiction, including THE XENO CHRONICLES: Two Years on the Frontier of Medicine Inside Harvard’s Transplant Research Lab and KING OF HEARTS: The True Story of the Maverick Who Pioneered Open Heart Surgery. He has been honored for his writing more than 40 times and was a member of the Providence Journal team that was a finalist for the 2004 Pulitzer Prize in Public Service. Three documentaries he wrote and co-produced have been broadcast on PBS, including The Providence Journal’s COMING HOME, about veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, nominated in 2012 for a New England Emmy and winner of a regional Edward R. Murrow Award. Miller is Visiting Fellow at Salve Regina University’s Pell Center, in Newport, R.I., and a co-founder of the Pell Center’s Story in the Public Square program, @pubstory Visit him at

For more information and author interviews, please contact David Niall Wilson, or tel. 252-340-3952. Visit

For interviews with Dr. Hendren, please send an email to

Crossroad Press / 141 Brayden Dr. / Hertford, NC 27944