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Tag Archive: World War II

Oct 25

Blogging the Book, Part 2

Good intentions are not enough. They’ve never put an onion in the soup yet. –Sonya Levien

Summer is the culprit that derailed my good intentions of writing my next book, a memoir about World War II, and yes, it’s time indeed to “put an onion in the soup.” Research is going well and the outline, too, and there are stacks of notes on my desk. Stay tuned.

May 10

Writing down the book in my head; it’s time

“The story I am writing exists in absolutely perfect fashion, some place, in the air. All I must do is find it, and copy it.” – Jules Renard, 1895

Did you ever receive a nudge from the universe, a feeling or a knowing that you absolutely must do something?

Well this week, I didn’t have a simple nudge, I had a shove, and it all had to do with writing a book that exists in “absolutely perfect fashion, some place in the air”.

I got the message—it’s time for me to write down that book, a true story that lives in my head.

The story begins in World War II along the border between northern Italy and what was then Yugoslavia, a politically volatile and dangerous area in which a third world war almost broke out. It’s a tale of unrequited love between a colonel and a Red Cross captain, of danger, redemption and reunion, core elements of any good ‘page turner’. I like to think of it as a blend of “Saving Private Ryan” and “Bridges of Madison County.”

But let’s back up to March of this year when I wrote a column about entering “Pitchapalooza Redux – The Book Doctors Return”, a contest sponsored by Rainy Day Books at Unity on the Plaza. There a panel of publishing experts gave a limited number of participants one minute to pitch their book ideas. Think of it as American Idol for books, if you will.

Suffice to say, I didn’t win the prize, a meeting with a publisher. However, I was awarded a 20-minute telephone interview (that happened this week) with the “Book Doctors”, a husband and wife author-agent team.

Enter the nudge; no make that a shove, from the universe.

“The Book Doctors’ actually remembered my pitch from Pitchapalooza on the Plaza. One of them, after giving the promised guidance and advice, asked me to submit my manuscript. That was not promised by them and never expected on my part.

“Uh, manuscript,” I mumbled?

“This book exists “some place in the air’, but is not on paper yet,” I admitted with just a little bit of embarrassment.

And thus began 20 minutes of clear, bullet-point guidance from ‘The Book Doctors’ who made it so much easier for me to figure out how to begin, what to send to them, even if it is only a chapter or two, and how to organize the book. They will wait on me, and therein lies the ‘shove’.

When I wrote the column in March about my Pitchapalooza experience, I quoted award-winning novelist Toni Morrison who once said, “If there’s a book you really want to read but it hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it.”

And so, I guess I will, or at the very least, I will try.

With that dear readers, I must tell you that I have decided to take a leave from writing my weekly column. Let’s call it a hiatus, “a break in something where there should be continuity.” I wish I could provide that continuity, but for now I will need to take a step back from writing Full Circle in order to devote my full creative energy to the book. Let’s just blame it on aging and not being able to do multiple things at once anymore. Those of you of a certain age will completely understand.

The Examiner has graciously agreed to this plan and will run some of my favorite archived Full Circle columns as we go along. And from time to time, I will check in with an update on the progress of the book. And, you can always find selected archived columns and future updates on my blogsite at www.kayhoflander.com.

It will be an arduous journey, writing down that book in my head, but it’s time.

Jun 09

Do you remember D-Day? Do Generations X, Y and Z?

“Normandy is marked by the landings. It is inscribed in people’s hearts, in memories, in stone, in rebuilding, in memorial plaques, in street names, everywhere.” –the Rev. Rene-Denis Lemaigre, priest of Lisieux.

Do you remember D-Day? It happened 67 years ago this week, on June 6, 1944, to be exact. On that day the world witnessed the Allied invasion of Normandy and the beginning of the liberation of Europe and the end of World War II.

But do we remember? Some of us do or at least remember being told about it by our parents or grandparents, or we might remember studying it in school.

Some of us don’t, however.

Most baby boomers, including myself, are the children of those who lived during the World War II era, and some are their grandchildren.

It is the Generations X (born mid-60s to 1982), Y (called Echo Boomers born mid-70s and up) and Z (born approximately 1991 to the 2000s) that worry me. Do they know about D-Day? Are we doing our job in helping them remember?

Regrettably, this pivotal moment in history passed by this week with relatively little fanfare.

I find this sad.

Missouri native Gen. Omar Bradley, commander of the US 1st Army at Normandy, said after the war that he never failed to remember D-Day. “I have returned many times to honor the valiant men who died…every man who set foot on Omaha Beach was a hero.”

Still, I wonder if generations two and three times removed from “the greatest generation that ever lived” remember or even know about D-Day. Broadcast journalist Tom Brokaw coined the term, “The Greatest Generation”, in his book of the same name published in 1998, saying: “It is, I believe, the greatest generation any society has ever produced.”

And what they did to preserve freedom for generations to follow, it seems to me, should have a little more “to do” made about it.

Brokaw’s book discussed how that generation served, not for personal gain, but because they believed it was the right thing to do. These men and women came home after the war and set to work to make America the leader of the free world, a prosperous nation, and a superpower.

I wasn’t exactly sure how much I remembered myself, so I began researching D-Day. It didn’t take long for me to realize that I was “rusty” on the subject.

Here are some staggering facts and inspirational observations that I found that may astound you as well.

“What a plan,” said British Prime Minister Winston Churchill addressing the House of Commons on June 6, 1944. “This vast operation is undoubtedly the most complicated and difficult that has ever taken place.”

Indeed it was.

More than 155,000 young Allied troops from the United States, Great Britain and Canada waded through the chest-high water and climbed the cliffs to storm the beaches of Normandy, France.

Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower sent these brave men into combat in Operation Overlord with these words:

“The eyes of the world are upon you, the hopes and prayers of liberty-loving people everywhere march with you. In company with our brave allies and brothers in arms on other fronts, you will bring about the destruction of the German war machine, the elimination of Nazi tyranny over the oppressed people of Europe, and security for ourselves in a free world. Your task will not be an easy one. …[but] the tide has turned, the free men of the world are marching together to victory.”

The beaches of Normandy were named with these code words: Juno, Gold, Omaha, Utah, and Sword.

Prior to the invasion, Allied forces practiced their roles for D-Day for months along the southern coast of England. Also, the Allies conducted a deception operation called Operation Fortitude aimed at misleading the Germans about the date and place of the actual D-Day invasion.

By August after the D-Day invasion in June, the 12th Army Group, comprised of four field armies, had swollen to more than 900,000 men and was the largest group of American soldiers to ever serve under one field commander. That commander was Gen. Omar Bradley, a native of Clark, Missouri, who graduated from Moberly High School.

D-Day numbers are staggering: 2395 aircraft, 867 gliders, and 6939 naval vessels. By June 11 (D-day plus 5 as it is called), there were 326,547 troops, 54,186 vehicles and 104,428 tons of supplies that had been landed on the beaches of Normandy.

According to the British Portsmouth Museum, there were millions more men and women in the Allied countries who were involved in the preparations for D-Day. They played thousands of different roles, both in the armed forces and as civilians.

To commemorate these heroes, what can you do to remember and to pass on their legacy?

To begin, visit the National D-Day Memorial website at d-day.org or dday-overlord.com for a wealth of historical information.

Commemorate D-Day by watching the few movies available that attempt to illustrate the intensity of the invasion of Normandy: Band of Brothers, The Big Red One, The Longest Day and Saving Private Ryan.

And most importantly, shake a hand of a veteran and say thank you to all who sacrificed their lives gladly for their neighbors and for us on that momentous Day–June 6, 1944.

Let us not forget.