Author Tim O'Brien speaks to attendees at the March 28 evening keynote event for NEA Big Read. At its conclusion, O'Brien's talk received a standing ovation. Photo courtesy of Aaron Matthews.

March 29, 2019-- Tim O’Brien, award-winning author of The Things They Carried and many other acclaimed novels, visited Toms River March 28 for multiple speaking engagements, the culmination of Toms River Regional Schools’ 2018-2019 NEA Big Read program.

O’Brien spent the afternoon and evening at the Jay and Linda Grunin Center for the Arts at Ocean County College discussing his time at war, The Things They Carried, his writing, his family, and much more. One busload each of intermediate and high school students attended the afternoon talk, which also included OCC students and community members.

O'Brien, who most recently began writing for the NBC hit series This Is Us, was in front of the camera as well. Filmmaker Aaron Matthews is currently producing a documentary about the author, and was on hand at both events to record footage.

The evening event was filled to near capacity, with an estimated 440 attendees which included teachers, students, administrators, parents and families, veterans, and community members.

As for the content of the speaking engagements, both were so incredibly moving that trying to capture them in recap form would be a disservice. As the saying goes, You had to be there. Photos, however, are below.