Widely acclaimed author Bracelen Flood passed away in August 2014 at his Richmond home.
But he’ll never be forgotten by Eastern Kentucky University Libraries, which furnished Flood an office in John Grant Crabbe Main Library, where he did much of his research and writing.
On Friday, Oct. 2, at 11 a.m., a plaque honoring Flood will be unveiled in a new 11,000-square-foot student collaboration space in the lower level of Crabbe Library. The public event, part of EKU’s celebration of American Archives Month, will feature President Michael Benson reading from Flood’s final book, “First to Fly: The Story of the Lafayette Escadrille, the American Heroes Who Flew for France in World War I,” published after his death; as well as remarks from the author’s daughter, Lucy Flood, and former EKU Deans of Libraries Lee Van Orsdel and Carrie Cooper; and a special dedication by current EKU Dean of Libraries Betina Gardner. Books will be offered for purchase. Parking for off-campus guests will be available in the Adams Lot (formerly the Alumni House lot) at the intersection of Lancaster Avenue and Crabbe Street.
“One of the ways libraries pay tribute to special supporters is to name a space after the individual,” Gardner said. “Bracelen traveled the world as a writer and speaker and he never failed to mention EKU Libraries and the role we played in helping him with his research and other support. It is fitting that we honor him by dedicating a space where we expect students, faculty and staff to gather to learn, to find inspiration, to germinate, refine and discuss ideas, and enjoy the company of fellow thinkers.”
The staff’s interaction with Flood “allowed us the opportunity to participate in the creative process with Bracelen,” Gardner added. “Nearly every one of us at EKU Libraries had the opportunity to talk to him at different points while he was in the process of research or writing. He openly discussed ideas with us, and we felt genuinely included in his process of writing, not just the research. It is rare that librarians and staff have the opportunity to do that. This was a gift, really. Who can say they have had this experience? Bracelen also cared deeply about the students. Writers are keen observers of human nature. He looked for ways the Libraries could be more meaningful in the lives of our students and he would frequently make suggestions to me.”
The well-lit, airy facility, filled with tables and flanked by 10 glass-enclosed study rooms, offers ample space for either individual study or group collaborations. It was funded by Friends of EKU Libraries (a group that Flood was instrumental in resurrecting) and the Provost’s Office.
Donations are still welcome to add technology and artwork. For more information about giving or the Flood event, contact Krista Rhodus, director of advancement with EKU Libraries, at firstname.lastname@example.org or 859-622-1072.
"First to Fly” tells the story of a group of American volunteers who served as pilots on the Western front before the U.S. entered World War I. They wore French uniforms, flew French planes and, according to the book’s publisher, “showed the world an American brand of heroism. Flying rudimentary planes, against one-in-three odds of being killed, these fearless young men gathered reconnaissance and shot down enemy aircraft, participated in the Battle of Verdun and faced off with the Red Baron, dueling across the war-torn skies like modern knights on horseback.”
Flood, a New York native who moved to Richmond in 1975, authored more than a dozen other books, many on historical figures, including “1864: Lincoln at the Gates of History,” “Grant’s Final Victory: Ulysses S. Grant’s Heroic Last Year,” “Grant and Sherman: The Friendship That Won the Civil War,” “Lee: The Last Years” and “Hitler: The Path to Power.”
He was a past president of the American Center of PEN, an international writers’ organization, and he served on the governing bodies of the Authors League and the Authors Guild.