Sunday, December 28, 2008

Lessons to Learn from the Stripling Warriors.

The Promised Land near the city of Judea
66 B.C. The twenty-and-sixth year of the Nephite/Lamanite war

My feet pounded the ground as I ran; my heart thumped against my ribs. I did not know where my strength came from, for I had been running with my army of brothers for two days. I tightened my grip on the hilt of the double-edged sword and held up my shield, emblazoned with the noble crest of my heritage, as I charged towards battle.
No more would we run and hide.
No more would we look over our shoulders and wonder when they would attack.
I did not fear death.
God would deliver me.
God would deliver us.

What you have just read is the beginning of my fiction novel, The Forgotten Warrior, which will be in book stores in a matter of days. As you may have also deduced, this is the point-of-view of a warrior…a stripling warrior from the Book of Mormon. I wanted my readers to see, hear, and feel what a warrior might have felt as he charged toward battle, so I created Tarik, Captain Helaman's second in command. I also wanted to show how a girl, very savvy in defensive fighting in our day, might fair among the mighty warriors of the past, so I created Sydney Morgan, the herione of The Forgotten Warrior. We have more in common with the stripling warriors and Sydney than you might think. (painting below by A. Friberg)


Though we are not in an actual war, every day we fight against the same adversary. We fight in the war against Satan. He has been behind every contention since the world began. Now that is not to say that 'the devil made me do it' is a viable excuse, but he does tempt us to make bad choices as he has throughout the history of mankind. Those bad decisions give him great joy. So, why not learn from those who were valiant and withstood Satan's temptations? Because of the stripling warriors' faith in God they became steadfast and immoveable in defending their beliefs, just as we can become.

In conjunction with the release of my book, I thought I’d blog about how the stripling warriors not only fought against the Lamanites, but also against Satan. Perhaps by understanding their battles we can become strengthened to win our own.

In the next few weeks we are going to discuss the following:
Four of Satan’s temptations
A stripling warrior mini-history
Ten stripling warrior character traits you can apply to your life.

I look forward to blogging with you on these subjects in the weeks ahead.

Now to announce some of the Twelve Days of Christmas Contest winners.

Day 1
Winner of Counting Blessings: Debra Erfert from Yuma Arizona

Day 2
Winner of The Stranger She Married: Gayle Oreluk from Palos Hills, Illinois

Day 3
Winner of The Man From Arizona: Anna Carpenter from Mesa, Arizona

Day 4

Winner of Haunts Haven: Christa Johnson from Bagdad, Arizona

Monday, December 22, 2008

Traditions and a Contest

Traditions mean a lot during Christmas. Frosting sugar cookies and gingerbread men has been something our family has done for many years. We also gather together on Christmas Eve for dinner. I place a tapered candle next to each place setting. My husband will light his then tell of the blessings he’s received during the year. He then lights the candle of the person seated next to him and that person tells of the blessings they’ve received that year and so it goes around the table. (In the picture: my daughter, Kristina, my grandson, William, my son-in-law Greg, and I'm the one with the candle glow on my face.)
When all the candles are glowing we have a prayer over the food. It’s a small tradition, but one that seems to bring the spirit of Christmas into our home.

After dinner we assemble in the living room near the tree and fireplace. Everyone takes a turn either telling a story or singing a song. (In the picture: Greg and William)
My grandson and I tell the story of Christ’s birth with the aid of a flannel board and pictures. (In the picture below we had help from my daughter, Tricia and son, Ben.)
Christmas Eve has always been a magical evening of remembering what we’re grateful for and the birth of our Savior. Do you have favorite traditions that you observe during Christmas?
I’d love to hear about them!

Now what you’ve been waiting for…I am fortunate to participate in this fun contest put together by my friend, Joyce DiPastena, author of Loyalty’s Web. The following are her instructions to this adventure. Enjoy!

The Twelve Days of Christmas Contest, Medieval Style!

During the Middle Ages, the Twelve Days of Christmas did not refer to the twelve days preceding Christmas day, as it does now. Rather it began on Christmas Day and continued through the following twelve days, ending on January 5, the eve of Epiphany which was traditionally considered the day that the three Magi presented their gifts to the Christ Child.

So a few friends and I decided to put a bit of a spin on our Twelve Days of Christmas Contest, and run it “Medieval Style”. Beginning on Christmas Day, we will be giving away a gift a day for 12 days, running through January 5th. There should be something for everyone…an inspirational book, five historical romance novels, two children’s picture books, one YA time travel, even a ghost story! And if that isn’t enough, you can also win a gift certificate to a wonderful new sensory experience called Scentsy, and a handmade, hand-decorated, personalized mailbox.

RULES:

You can send in an entry for each day’s prize, or only for those prizes that strike your fancy. The rules are simple:

(1) Go to the website or blog indicated for each day, find the answer to the question for that day, then email the answer with your name and mailing address to jdipastena@yahoo.com.

(2) Please send a separate entry for each day and type the day you are entering in the subject line. (Such as: 12 Days of Christmas, Day 1; 12 Days of Christmas, Day 2, etc).

(3) Deadline for each day: Midnight PST

(4) The winner will be contacted and announced on the day following the deadline.

You do not have to wait until the designated day to enter. You can start sending in your entries right now, or begin entering at any point along the way. And check back here each day between Dec 26-Jan 6 to read the names of the winners.

If you have any questions, feel free to email Joyce DiPastena at jdipastena@yaoo.com.

And now…let the games begin!

Day 1 – December 25
Sponsor: Kerry Blair
Prize: Inspirational Book: Counting Blessings: Wit and Wisdom for Women, autographed copy
Website address: www.kerryblair.net
Website question: Name one of the two books -- e-versions -- that Kerry offers for free on her site. (Hint: Check out “Fun Stuff” tab)
WINNER:

Day 2 – December 26
Sponsor: Donna Hatch
Prize: Regency Romance, The Stranger She Married: e-book download
Website address: http://www.donnahatch.net/
Website question: What is Cole accused of doing? (Hint: Read excerpt of The Stranger She Married under “Bookshelf” tab)
WINNER:

Day 3 – December 27
Sponsor: Marsha Ward
Prize: Book: Post-Civil War action/adventure romance, The Man from Shenandoah, autographed copy
Website address: http://marshaward.com/
Website question: Where is the Bates family living? (Don’t confuse with the Owen family! Hint: Click on excerpt from The Man from Shenandoah under “Novels” on websites’s left hand tool bar.)
WINNER:

Day 4 – December 28
Sponsor: Joan Sowards
Prize: ebook Haunts Haven by LizAnne Bayh
Website address: http://joansowards.com/
Website question: What is the title of Joan’s 2008 Christmas song? (Hint: Look under “Christmas” tab for 2008 song)
WINNER:

Day 5 – December 29
Sponsor: Heidi Ashworth
Prize: $20 Amazon gift certificate towards purchase of her Regency Romance, Miss Delacourt Speaks Her Mind
Blog address: http://www.heidiashworth.blogspot.com/
Blog question: What is the last name of the hero in the novel Miss Delacourt Speaks Her Mind?
WINNER:

Day 6 – December 30
Sponsor: Kellydawn Zollinger
Prize: $25 Scentsy Gift Certificate
Website address: www.scentsy.com/luminescent
Website question: How many room sprays come in the “Scentsy Sampler” Multi Pack offered in the current catalog? (Hint: Scroll through the “catalog” tab to find answer. Or download catalogue to PDF for easier reading.)
WINNER:

Day 7 – December 31
Sponsor: Joyce DiPastena
Prize: Book: Medieval Romance, Loyalty’s Web, autographed copy
Website address: http://www.joyce-dipastena.com/
Website question: How is Gunthar received almost the moment he sets foot in Poitou? (Hint: check out “Books and Bio” tab)
WINNER:

Day 8 – January 1
Sponsor: Cindy Williams
Prize: Children’s Book: Chase McKay Didn’t Get Up Today, autographed copy
Website address: www.cindyrwilliams.com
Website question: What is the name of the fantasy book about dragons that Cindy is writing? (Hint: check out “Home” page or “Books” Tab)
WINNER:

Day 9 – January 2
Sponsor: Liz Adair/Cecily Markland
Prize: Autographed copy of Counting the Cost, new novel by best-selling author, Liz Adair
Website address: www.inglestonepublishing.com
Website question: What is the title of the workshop Liz Adair presents for writers and family history buffs? (Hint: It's the same title as the 28-page booklet by Liz that Inglestone Publishing also published. Check out the Bookstore tab.)
WINNER:

Day 10 – January 3
Sponsor: Lori Conger
Prize: Children’s Picture Book: My Squishy Pants, autographed copy
Website address: http://www.loriconger.com/
Website question: Why doesn’t Jonah want to wear his pants to school? (Hint: This one’s on the “Home” page)
WINNER:

Day 11 – January 4
Sponsor: Kathi O. Peterson
Prize: YA Time-travel: The Forgotten Warrior, autographed copy
Website address: http://www.kathiorampeterson.com/
Website question: What attribute has Sydney Morgan never had? (Hint: This one again is on the “Home” page)
WINNER:

Day 12 – January 5
Sponsor: Teri Rodeman
Prize: Personalized mailbox
Blog address: http://terirodeman.blogspot.com/
Blog question: How many years has Teri Rodeman been owner of the LDSForeverFriends Google Group? (Hint: Check out the right hand side of the page)
WINNER:

Good luck and Merry Christmas to you all!

Sunday, December 14, 2008

StiLle Nacht! HeiLige Nacht!

I don’t think I can ever look at those words without thinking of the Christmas stories that took place during World War I. Some people don’t believe such a miraculous thing could happen during war. Funny how distance of time can make memories fade or how those who don’t believe seem to have louder voices than those who do. Wanting to include this event, if it really happened, in my nonfiction book, The Kids' Books of World War One, I did some research. Not only did I find many accounts of that night, but even some pictures (some staged to show the event, but also newspaper photos). Since we are to soon celebrate Christmas, I thought I'd summarize what I read and also provide a website where you can read accounts of both sides by soldiers who were actually there.

Let's set the scene...as Christmas in 1914 approached, Pope Benedict XV requested a ceasefire from both the German and Allie Forces. The request was rejected. In fact, the British thought the Germans would use the holiday to launch a major assault and sent out a warning to all units to be especially watchful during Christmas.

Christmas Eve brought bone-chilling weather to the front. The ground was frozen, which was a welcome change from the mud, but now that sticky mud, which caked the soldiers’ coats, was frozen to them. That night one Allie unit was assigned to sneak out in No-Man’s Land (an area between German and Allie Forces where hand-to-hand combat took place) and dig posts in the frozen ground where they planned to add more barbed wire to help with their defenses. The men were skeptical about hammering the posts certain it would draw the attention of the Germans. But as soon as night fell, they went about their assignment.

As they crept out into No-Man’s Land the night was eerily silent, which was most unusual. By moonlight they set to work always on their guard for the enemy. Close to midnight they noticed a strange light appearing on the German parapet. Some in the Allie trenches thought it was a type of weapon and fired. But no return fire sounded.

The men working on the posts wondered if the Germans were using a new type of lantern, but the glow was most unusual. Suddenly they heard “Hoch! Hoch! Hoch!” from the German trenches. The Allies flatten themselves on the frozen ground certain they were about to be attacked.

No attack followed. Instead more lights along the German parapets appeared. As the Allies peered at the strange glow, they realized the lights were candles on Christmas trees. The Germans were celebrating Christmas! All at once on the misty threads of the cold night air a baritone’s voice was heard singing “StiLle Nacht! HeiLige Nacht!” (Silent night, holy night.) The Allies could hardly believe their ears. It was as if they’d become part of another world delivered from the nightmare they’d been living.



Christmas morning brought even stranger events. As the fog cleared soldiers from both sides left their trenches, walked past the barbed wire, and met each other in No-Man’s Land. They shook hands. A sort of unspoken truce had been called. Both sides respectful for each other set to work taking care of their dead. After their fallen troops had been laid to rest, the Germans and Allies once again came together and this time they offered each other presents of cigarettes, cigars, jams, and beer. They even played a good game of football.


Incidents such as this happened up and down the battle lines. The leaders of both sides were concerned for their men and after a while ordered them to resume their posts. They reluctantly complied. Sadly a Christmas truce was never struck again during the long years which followed.


Despite rumors to the contrary, the impossible did occur during a time of war on Christmas Eve 1914. Songs have been sung and stories have been written of this event. Check out the following sites if you'd like to learn more.

The Christmas Truce, 1914:
http://www.fylde.demon.co.uk/xmas.htm

Christmas in the Trenches:
http://youtube.com/watch?v=s9coPzDx6tA&feature=related

And remember this Christmas Eve as you celebrate with your families and friends that almost a hundred years ago an unspoken truce visited the battle front of WWI.

Do you know of another incidence during war when soldiers celebrated Christmas? I'd love to hear about it.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Warriors Are All Around Us

Warriors

Last week I asked the question, who is a warrior. I received wonderful comments on and off my blog site.

One comment was…a warrior is one whose courage and faith goes beyond that of the common man or woman, whose heart is tender yet strong, and whose life is lived without thought of self (thanks, JoAnn). I found these words very inspiring and they made me think of the brave people who have fought for our country.

December 7th was the anniversary of the bombing of Pearl Harbor. My daughter, Patrizia, happens to be in Hawaii and toured that hallowed site. Many warriors lost their lives on that day, lo those many years ago. Their courage and valor should never be forgotten. They were truly men and women who lived without thought of self, giving the ultimate sacrifice during that frightening day which changed so many lives. During those horrifying moments, I believe there were many acts of heroism without thought of self.




Pearl Harbor Day of Attack
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Nt13c3olXkU&feature=related

Another comment on my blog stated…We are all warriors. We might not carry swords or guns, but we all have to be on guard ready to fight for our children (thanks, Jo). This is so very true! Children face bad influences every day in their entertainment, schools, and even their friends. Every day people must be on their guard and protect their children yet at the same time teach them to love and show compassion to even their enemies. That’s a very hard balancing act, especially in this day and age, but one so very necessary. A warrior should not only be fearless, but merciful.




Yet another comment spoke of visiting an uncle who was in the hospital. He had joked and talked with her, making her feel at ease. After she left she remembered something she needed to tell him and returned to his room unnoticed. She saw by the unguarded expression on his face that her uncle was in a great deal of pain that he’d hidden from her. She said…while I admire grand acts of valor─invaluable for inspiring courage─small amounts of unsung heroism say something magnificent about people (thanks, Kathleen). This is a great reminder that even those who seem incapable of heroic acts, do them in ways we may never see.

I’ve thought a lot about inspiring acts of courage that go unnoticed. This last week a dear friend of mine called and told me her cancer had returned. Oh how my heart aches for what she must face in the days and weeks ahead. Another friend has been waging a battle against colon cancer for over eight months. These two magnificent people are warriors fighting a horrible foe with courage and valor that cannot be measured.

People are warriors not only when it comes to catastrophic events, but also when protecting their children, or fighting a battle against a life-threatening illness.

Warriors are truly all around us.

Monday, December 1, 2008

WHO IS A WARRIOR?

For many the word “warrior” conjures up diverse images: Vikings, knights, soldiers, and even stripling young men too young to see battle, but willing to serve. A little over a week ago my editor sent me the cover of my book, The Forgotten Warrior.

After reading the title and gazing at the hand holding the sword you immediately think of a warrior, but do you know if that hand belongs to a male or female? Is that person young or old? Could that person be you or me?

Just who is a warrior?

Warriors have long been thought of as male with good reason. Men have fought in many wars around the world during different eras. The Viking warriors left their homes in search of food. Many believed they plundered, but what is plundering for some is survival for others.


The brave knights who fought during medieval times and were asked to protect the weak, defenseless, helpless, and fight for the general welfare of all must have found it hard to live up to such a standard, but most did.


Our military today strives for similar ideals. They leave home and family to travel halfway around the world to serve their country. Not many can claim such devotion.

Another group, who were just as devoted, lived long ago in Book of Mormon times.



Gallant aspirations were also those of Helaman’s stripling warriors. Because their fathers had made a covenant with God to never kill again, these boys─who had never fought─stepped up to fight in their place. The stripling warriors honored and respected their families, their country and their God. These brave young men went to war to protect, defend, and help their people.

Have you noticed when talking about warriors familiar words pop up? Family, survival, protect, defend, and fight are but a few words that continue to come to mind. Are these words gender based? Could a warrior be not only male, but also female?

In modern times it has not been unusual to hear of women on the frontlines. But did you know that during WWI hundreds of women volunteered to fight for the Russian military? They were known as the Russian Legion of Death.

Their leader was Colonial Maria Yashka Botchkareva. These women saw battle in 1917 during the Kerensky Offensive. Though fifty of them were killed, they forced the Germans to retreat, took over a hundred prisoners and remained on the front lines. Botchkareva was wounded three times during her service in the war and became known as the Russian Joan of Arc.

Speaking of Joan of Arc…during her short life of nineteen years she rose from being a peasant girl to leading the French army during the Hundred Year War. Burned at the stake by the British, she was later declared a martyr and canonized.

As you can see from history and from our modern times the word “warrior” is not necessarily gender or age based. When you look at the cover of my book, I hope you continue to wonder if the hand is that of a male or female. I’m not going to tell, but know this─it is definitely the hand of a warrior.

Does the word warrior apply to you or me?

Of course!

In someone’s life you are a warrior…a hero. Someone looks up to you whether you have fought in actual battle, have championed a cause you believe in, or have shown great faith in family, country or God. You are someone’s hero…someone’s warrior!

Who is a warrior? Tell me who you think is a warrior.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Thanksgiving

I love Thanksgiving. I love making chocolate cream pies, having family over to dinner, and even getting up before the sun the day after and running from store to store. But sometimes in all the celebrating I forget about that first Thanksgiving.

In doing research for one of my books, I had a refresher course in American history and learned a few more interesting tidbits. Take for instance Jamestown. Everyone has heard the story of John Smith and Pocahontas, but what is fact and what is fiction?

The fact is King James I of England wanted to stake a claim in the new world. He’d heard about the fortunes Spain had found and he wanted a piece of it as well. He commissioned the London Company to set up a colony in America, find the Lost Colony of Roanoke, and send whatever treasures they found back to England.

Merchant adventurers who wanted to make money of their own advertised for people to find their fortunes in the new world. Life was tough in England with overcrowding and high taxes. One hundred and fifty-one people signed up all hopeful for a fresh start. They would be sadly disappointed.

Crossing the Atlantic over forty-six of them died. Though they were happy when they first arrived, they soon found that finding fresh water was a challenge and the swamps were infested with malaria carrying mosquitoes. By the end of the first year two-thirds of them had died. One of the survivors was John Smith.

The Jamestown Colony
http://www.teachertube.com/view_video.php?viewkey=38b3c57a3e6b7bbb6d62


He was elected governor of Jamestown, explored the area and came into contact with the Powhatan Indians. Many believe he was held captive by the Indians and saved from death by Pocahontas. But there are several historians who disagree with that account.

Pocahontas: The Truth – VOA Story
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IHBl-EuFoLY

As with Pocahontas much has been written of the Pilgrims journey. But did you know their story actually began long before they settled in America? In 1606 the Church of England was the only religion allowed to be practiced there. A group of people decided they didn’t want to be part of that religion and became known as the Separatists. They fled north to the Netherlands and settled in Leiden. However, they were not happy. They couldn’t find work, there were rumors of war with Spain, and their children were picking up Dutch habits that the Separatist parents didn’t like. So, once again, they were searching for a place to live. America seemed the perfect solution to their problem, except they didn’t have the money to go.

Banning together, the Separatists formed their own company and convinced merchant investors to pay them to go to the new world and in exchange the Separatists company would send the merchants in England valuable goods for seven years.

Also sailing with the Separatists were people they called Strangers. They were not searching for religious freedom, but wanted a new life.

These groups boarded two ships: the Speedwell and the Mayflower and started their journey, but it wasn’t too long when they found out that the Speedwell was taking on water. They were forced to go to Plymouth England. From there one hundred and two passengers boarded the Mayflower and set sail. Their journey would take sixty-six days.


History Channel Presents: Desperate Crossings 5 mins.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vA-5ZAKW7t0&feature=related

Here’s an informative website about the pilgrims adventure and that first Thanksgiving so many years ago.

The Thanksgiving Feast
http://www.scholastic.com/scholastic_thanksgiving/feast/slideshow.htm

FYI: Thanksgiving was not a national holiday until November 26, 1863 when President Abraham Lincoln proclaimed that the fourth Thursday in November would be set aside for celebration.

So while the first settlers who came to the new world probably did not know what chocolate cream pie taste like nor why crazy people get up before the sun the day after to run from store to store, I do think they enjoyed getting together with loved ones and being grateful for their blessings.

I wish you all a Happy Thanksgiving!

Monday, November 17, 2008

Who Came First?

Who Came First?

Who were the first settlers in America? This was a question I explored to write my nonfiction childrens’ activity book: They Came From Around the World: A Nation of Immigrants. As I researched, I came across many familiar stories.

Some believed the Eskimos were the first. Using the Bering Strait they migrated from Russia over to the new world in search of food. To learn more about the Bering Land Mass you might want to go to this website:

Arctic Journeys to Alaska’s Bering Land Bridge
http://www.pbs.org/beringlandbridge/guide/index.html

Some believed the Vikings were the first. The Vikings sailed the Northern seas in search of food. One such Viking was Erik the Red, who earned his name by plundering other villages to provide for his people. He was banished from Iceland, so he sailed west to Greenland. He had plans to go farther west, but rumor has it that on the day he was to leave he fell off his horse and being superstitious he sent his son Leif Ericsson. Leif reached the shores of Vinland in 1000 B.C..

Vikings: The North Atlantic Saga

Still others believed that an Italian man sailing for Spain was the first to discover America. How did an Italian come to sail for Spain? It’s a long but interesting story. Because Constantinople fell to the Ottoman Turks in 1453 travel overland to China and India for valuable goods became impossible. Many countries began to explore different routes. Christopher Columbus and his brothers believed they could reach India by sailing west, however, they found it difficult to persuade others. Finally Christopher was able to convince Queen Isabella of Spain that his plan would work. Taking three ships: Santa Maria, NiƱa, and Pinta, Chris set out for India on August 3, 1492. By October 12 he found land, but it wasn’t India…it was the Bahamas.



Did you know that Columbus continued to explore the coastline and on Christmas Eve ran the Santa Maria aground on a reef? Using the remains of the ship they built a fort they called La Navidad (Christmas).

Another explorer sailing for France set sail in search of a route to the east. Jacques Cartier sailed north looking for a passage through North America. Instead he discovered Prince Edward Island, charted the St. Lawrence River, and built a fort where Quebec City is today. He is also credited for naming Canada because of a misunderstanding with the Huron-Iroquois Indians. Communication between Cartier and the Indians was difficult. He thought they were telling him the land was named Canada, when Kanata for the Indians meant village. Here’s a theory of how it happened:

Jacques Cartier Historica Minute
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZAtOCH189oc

So now you might be wondering what was the first English settlement in America? Have you ever heard of the Lost Colony? In 1584 Sir Walter Raleigh sent some men to seek out a location in the new world. They came upon Roanoke Island. This island was covered with marshland, towering oak trees and lots of wildlife. Queen Elizabeth granted Raleigh a patent to all lands he settled.

The first group he sent over did not get along with the Indians and killed their Indian chief over a stolen cup. The men were also ill prepared for winter so they sailed back to England. Not to be deterred Raleigh assigned John White to head up a group of 117 people to settled in the new world. White was to be the governor of the Citties of Raleigh. They arrived on Roanoke Island in July of 1587. White’s daughter and son-in-law were expecting their first baby. Virginia Dare became the first English child born in America in August of 1587. John White soon realized they were going to need more supplies so he sailed back to England, promising to return shortly. Little did he know he would never see his granddaughter, daughter, or the people of the colony again.

He arrived in England during the Spanish Armada. He was stuck there for three long years. When he finally returned to America he found the colony abandoned and no sign of life. No one knows to this day what happened to the Lost Colony of Roanoke.

Roanoke the Lost Colony – Roanoke the Movie
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-pFaJnvtOWU&feature=related

The first permanent settlement in America was St. Augustine. Don Juan Ponce de Leon, a Spanish explorer, thought he had found the “Fountain of Youth” in St. Augustine, Florida. He named the land “La Florida” and claimed it for Spain. Then he left. In 1654 the French set up a colony and fort on the St. John’s River. When King Phillip II of Spain heard about this he sent Don Pedro Menendez de Aviles to colonize and drive out any pirates or settlers of other nations. With the help of a hurricane, he chased out the French and established St. Augustine.
Which explorer would you have liked to sail with: Leif Ericsson, Chris Columbus, John White, Ponce De Leon, or de Aviles? Or maybe you would have preferred to come with the Eskimos over the Bering Strait? Let me know.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Veterans Day

As my husband and I were running our Saturday errands we were stopped in front of Walmart by a couple of war veterans handing out little red poppies. They reminded us that Veteran’s Day is the 11th. This made me think of that wonderful poem written by John McCrae called In Flanders Field.

Last spring I was asked to write a non-fiction childrens’ activity book titled The Kids' Book of World War I: An Activity and Internet Exploration Project. Towards the end I told why McCrae was impressed to write his beloved poem.

He served in World War I as a Canadian field surgeon for the 1st Artillery Brigade. John McCrae was familiar with battle having previously served in the bloody Boar War in South Africa, so by the time he answered a call to duty in World War I he had seen enough blood to last a lifetime. The brigade fought in many battles, but the second battle at Ypres in the spring of 1915 was most memorable. He treated not only Canadians, but British, Indians, French and Germans. For over 17 days the fighting was fierce. A good friend of McCrae’s was killed by a shell burst. His remains were put in sandbags. The sandbags were placed on an army blanket and then fastened together with safety pins. However, the fighting was so fierce that they couldn’t bury him during the day. Using the cover of night, McCrae and several other soldiers buried their friend.

The following day, during a break in the fighting, McCrae sat on the step of an army ambulance and wrote his beloved poem, noting the scene before him. Wild red poppies were blooming in the field amongst the rubble of war and where thousands of soldiers had died. Poppy seeds normally lie dormant in the soil until the ground is heavily turned or dug up which enables the seeds to sprout. In this particular field there was a high concentration of lime due to the rubble of limestone buildings that had been blowup during the war. Thus the conditions were right for thousands of poppies to bloom.

You can hear McCrae’s poem at the address below.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kEnG8pIzvg8



My father served in the Navy prior to World War II. This picture was taken while he was stationed in Hawaii. He lost many friends at Pearl Harbor. His contribution to the war effort was building torpedoes at the base in Keyport, Washington. I have a soft spot in my heart for veterans.

Are there military veterans in your life? Please write and tell me their stories.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Hi Kathi

This is cool! You're a great writer and I know people will love THE FORGOTTEN WARRIOR. Can't wait to get my copy in January!

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