Friday, September 9, 2016

Book Of The Week

I've set up a goal for myself to read a book a week-quite unrealistic, but it keeps me reading.  I am on a WWII binge.  Last week I highlighted a book I ended up buying I loved it so much.

This week I read:


I loved this book!  Each chapter starts with lots of history but I skipped that part (not that it's not interesting just that I wanted to get to the good parts before I nodded off) and then was full of letters written by sons and daughters, and grandchildren of veterans, or veterans themselves in response to Tom Brokaw's first book called The Greatest Generation (which I want to go back and reread now.)

SO inspiring, and also tissues needed-these incredible sacrifices made by these women and men-mothers, wives, children, and the men and women veterans themselves.  So many lives lost.  I turned down a few pages of little quotes I wanted to remember.  I also found myself even more disillusioned at the present state of our political race.  It's a shame really-an utter shame considering the lives and sacrifices made for us to live in this wonderful country, all the son buried all over this world, never to be hugged by their mothers again..  The words 'embarrassing', 'ignorance', and 'circus' and 'shameful' come to mind to describe it all from the candidates to the media covering them to all the ridiculous talk and outright immature games being played to the money to the scandals-it's basically the opposite of every value this Greatest Generation embraced.

Anyways, here are a few little excerpts from various letters I wanted to remember from the book:

This one really encompasses so much and I want to write more on this later-things I am seeing that made me so angry when it comes to parents as role models, and a short conversation I had with a grandmother about honoring parents with good dutiful responsible behavior for LIFE.

"The Depression was a leveler too. I grew up in what was considered a middle-class family-by today's standards we would be considered poor, but nobody came around to tell us so.  Everyone was in the same boat, and extended families helped each other. I wore many clothes that had belonged to one of my cousins or my big brothers.  Getting some bit of clothing of your own that was new was a big event.  There were many people who had much less than we did, but they never let on and we never knew. The community sort of stuck together and family was very important. Parent were role models. I remember getting into a lot of mischief when I was growing up but nothing really bad.  In the back of my mind was always the thought, "Don't ever do anything to bring disgrace to your family." I never thought of "me first" or "do your own thing," and neither did anyone else. I am sure that these traits helped us in combat to stick together and look out of each other."

This little series of letters was heartbreaking, but it stood out to me because of the young young age these men (kids really) left their homes to fight the war.  Most of them seemed to be married young by today's standards-early 20's.  Wonder why that has changed and if it is for the better, especially after the last book I read, it really has me pondering all that.  It seems like these couples built a life together early on and were "grown-ups" must quicker than happens today and were so much more grateful and satisfied with their own small home and food on the table and a decent job and their children.

"Dear Mom-You shouldn't bake cookies with tears in your eyes, Mom, you know that isn't good for you.  Charlie and I will be all right, so don't you worry.  When we are back in town you'l never even know we were away.  And how are you doing Dad? You had better watch out when they get you back in the army, I'll admit that they do need a lot of guys like you that know their stuff, but the army has changed.  See you all later, Good nite, good luck and God Bless You, Art."

Another written by Art:
"Dear Mom and Dad-
Bettie and the girls left on Sunday nite too, but they should have gotten there sometime this morning because nothing could move as slow as the troop train we're riding on. I don't know just how she is going to like the place, but if it's very bad, I'm going to send her home. I'll hate to see her go because since she's been out here with me, I've had the happiest time of my life. I know that I got the pick of the lot when I got married, and you should see me, I've changed a lot.  Did you know that this is the longest I've been away from Bettie since she's been out here. That shows you how much we've been seeing each other. We've been married for seven months, two weeks, and four days and I'm just as much in love now as I was the day we got hitched.
Good nite, good luck and God Bless You All Art."

There are a few more letters from this collection, written by a boy that sounded just like all of ours do-excited to be young, excited to see the world, missing home and you can sense the heartbreak and worry and pride his parents are feeling.  And then there is this:

"My Dear Mrs. Nicholls-
With profound regret I have learned that your husband, Second Lietuenant Arthur Herbert Nicholls, missing in action on May 13, 1943, has since been reported killed in an engagement..."


How many thousands and thousands of letters like this were sent back and forth?  It is truly heartbreaking and humbling and we must be filled with gratitude and a sense of duty and respect but it seems to me like we've forgotten it all and certainly haven't done a great job of teaching it to our children (I know I could do better!).

This one little sentence by a veteran summed up so much of The Greatest Generation:

"Coming of age during the great depression and the Second World War united us with a common purpose and common values: 
duty,
honor,
economy,
courage,
service,
love of family and country,
and responsibility for one's self."

There you have it-and there is what we have a duty to uphold and what I would call our country's values of yesteryear that we have lost or are losing or feel like we must fight for from WITHIN, which is terribly frustrating and plain wrong.

Another excerpt written by a veteran:
"I agree that a majority of those who endured the Great Depression, World War II and helped rebuild this country, were folks, inculcated with a deep sense of honor duty, patriotism, loyalty, work ethic, and respect for God, country and self. I do respectfully disagree however that we are the "Greatest Generation".  I tip my hat the generation preceding us, our parents and grandparents, who instilled in us those principles of honor, duty, loyalty and patriotism and respect as well as the work ethic. They taught us to "make do" and to get our joy from out companionship and loyalty to and from our friends."

A video worth watching:

The Fallen of World War II from Neil Halloran on Vimeo.


17 comments :

  1. Thanks for the reviews. I am still reading "Thank you for the shoes".

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  2. I love your book posts! Have you happen to have read A Light Between Oceans? I think the film received mixed reviews but I just finished the book and loved it. Finished it in 2 days because I couldn't put it down. The motherhood theme really struck a chord with me and made me think of your blog.

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  3. I always love your recommendations, this is going on my list! Wars now, I feel like, are so much "easier" for the folks back home. We've never had to deal with food rations, shortages of rubber or cars or appliances, or had to do fund raisers to help out with the war effort. I feel like almost every single family was affected in some way by WWII. Hurts my heart to think of the horrors some had to live through. I pray all the time that my boys will NEVER have to go to war.
    Now you have to read Salt To The Sea, a great one I just read... It's another WWII book about a true event from the war (still can't believe the world doesn't know this event happened!).

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    1. I also think-skype, email today-compared to letters. One soldier's wife wrote to him every day and he never received ONE letter. Most mothers/wives had little idea where their children/husbands were fighting, or how they were doing when injured, what hospitals they were in, and the notification of missing in action, injured, death was far from immediate. They knew no different but what a difference today! One father wrote that his baby was born after he left and he never had a leave for 3 years! He came home to a 3 year old son, who he never saw before. The sacrifice is incredible on the home front alone.

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  4. Also, if you haven't already seen this about the sheer number of soldiers who died during WWII (well worth the 18 minutes, honestly!), you really should. It will take your breath away.
    https://vimeo.com/128373915

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    1. Thank you Kristen-will get that book and that video is so informative, and yes, terribly sad, thanks for letting me know about it.

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  5. It sounds like such an impressive book. It went on my wish list just a minute ago, and I think the others by Mr. Brokaw will as well.
    Thanks for the recommendation!

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  6. I just picked up War Bonds from the library TODAY on your recommendation (thank you!). My absolute favorite book is The Hiding Place, by Corrie Ten Boom. She and her father and sister hid Jews in their watch shop in Holland, and were sent to concentration camps because of it. It is an amazing story of survival and trust.

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  7. You inspire me to read more....
    Thanks :)
    Have a blessed day.

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  8. I've also been on a WWII reading spree--for the past couple of years! So much to take away from those times! The last one I read was fabulous--it weaves a story from present day into the past--a legal tale. Once We Were Brothers. Highly recommend!

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  9. I enjoy WWII as well! I know you've enjoyed "Downton Abbey" and wanted to share the series "Home Fires", which is about a small English town in the throes of WWII. The first season was last year but you could probably catch it online. Not sure when the second season starts. Also "Land Girls" is a fun series about the English homefront during WWII. It used to be available on Netflix. Finally, last Sunday on PBS, the series "Churchill Secrets" started. It was very good! And, in all your spare time, it's not about WWII but it's excellent as well-"Indian Summers" and "Doc Martin". Happy Wednesday!

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    1. I watched it-loved it! I am taping Churchill's Secrets also! Indian Summers-love! Never heard of Doc Martin-I will get going on that one also.

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  10. I think the last quote really captures for me the "fatal flaw", if you will, of the greatest generation. They had all of these values and virtues: why didn't they impart them to their children? The baby boomers were so different from their parents . . . What went wrong? I've always wondered about this.

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    1. I do also-I think so much of what went right was circumstances to do with the Depression and War-hard work, doing without, personal responsibility, having to give yourself (literally) to something outside of your self for good of others-and that can't be duplicated no matter what.

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  11. Good morning!
    I just wanted to thank you for your blog. I am 50+ single, never married, without kids, yet I find such joy and encouragement from reading yours. Your priorities are right when you raise your kids attentively without ignoring your faith, your spouse, or yourself.

    I'm commenting in this post to thank you in particular for this book recommendation. I DEVOURED it and was so moved and impressed by it. I just finished Brokaw's related book of letters from people of the "greatest generation" and found it even more powerful. Many stories moved me to tears and prayers of thanks and petition for these wonderful people. I feel WW2 was a rare time when Americans were united in spite of differences. We can do much good--in war and out--when we share an honourable goal.

    I hope you have a lovely day. Thank you!

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