I have posted about this project a few times; as a reminder, here's some info:
Capturing the Stories
The goal of this phase of the book’s development is to create a channel for the purpose of gathering stories/essays from every corner of America, and our military personnel across the globe. Final editing and production will begin May 1, 2005, with the official release date scheduled for July 4th, 2005.Invitation to troops:
The United States Military has been invited to participate in a publication entitled, America-- United We Stand. This book will be formatted in a coffee table, photo/narrative style that will share real stories of many Americans, both military and civilian, reflecting the values, heritage and unique spirit that have shaped America throughout its proud history. This book will celebrate those ideals, and why they continue to motivate us to stand up for justice and confront evil.
The producers of this book, along with your military leadership, welcome you to share your personal stories, and, in turn, look forward to sharing and celebrating these magnificent stories with our readers throughout the world. They also wish to state that the goal of this book is to avoid taking any political stand whatsoever. Labels such as “Conservative”, “Left”, “Right”, or “Politically Correct” are inappropriate here. We are, instead, proud Americans one and all who deeply love our country for all that it is, all that it represents, and all that it yet could be.
The editors will carefully review and select those stories that best portray our book’s central theme of appreciation for our country. These need not be “spectacular” stories of intense drama or notoriety, but rather, how the events and experiences of each individual story inspired each featured American to come to love his or her country even more.
Virtuserve, the publisher of America-United We Stand, has pledged to donate a portion of all sales of the book to both The Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society, and The Fallen Hero Fund .We have included two sample stories, and we look forward to reviewing each and every story that is submitted for this project.
As stories are reviewed, one-on-one interviews may be requested, and will be facilitated through the proper command Each individual whose story is published will receive a personalized commemorative plaque compliments of the publisher, Virtuserve.Civilians are also welcome to submit items for consideration. You can email submissions to firstname.lastname@example.org.I've posted a few sample stories from this work - today's sample is written by yours truly. I penned this one last Halloween, while pondering my involvement with Soldiers' Angels, and my first adoptee.
I’m sitting in my driveway on what is an absolutely beautiful New England day, one of my favorite holidays, Halloween, packing up six boxes of goodies to send for TLC requests, after which I’ll start on TLC and Letter Writing Team letters and cards, and birthday cards, and I start reflecting, as I usually do in my marathon packing sessions, on this wonderful group that I’ve managed to get involved with. I started with one “official” Soldier, and like many, I’ve now got a few “unofficials” I correspond with, and I’m a gung-ho responder to TLC requests. There really aren’t words to describe the rewards I’ve found within my participation with Soldiers Angels. It’s made me a better American, a better person. For all the thanks I’ve gotten from my adoptee and the other Soldiers who have contacted me, I can’t help but feel that I’ve gotten as much out of this, if not more, than they have. My adoptee is a wonderful guy, a father and husband, a Staff Sergeant, a Soldier. And a friend. He’s become a part of my extended family, and I hope that he’ll stay in contact once he gets home. But even if he doesn’t, my life has been enriched by knowing him. And so, I’ve once again written a few words to explain how much this all means to me.Things My Soldier Taught Me:
He taught me to speak up
This may come as a complete surprise to those of you who’ve had any contact with me on the Boards, via email, or in PM’s, but I used to be incredibly shy. In recent years, I’ve gotten better. Now I’m pretty much shameless. I regularly approach people to sign the message book I’m putting together for my Soldier. I thank Soldiers I see. Recently, I sent out a slew of letters requesting donations for Operation Santa. And I’ve had more than one discussion with people who felt the need to be anti-war, usually centering around anything anti-troop. I’ve learned to speak my mind without hesitation, to let them know exactly what I think of the brave men and women who serve this country, who protect people like me. I don’t mind folks being against the war, although I personally don’t share that point of view, but I cannot abide being anti-troop. I used to just shake my head and stay angry for a while, but not say much. Now, I make it known right away where I stand. My office boasts an Iraqi bill in an acrylic frame, sent to me by my Soldier. It boasts a picture of my Soldier and two of his comrades. My car has yellow ribbons, as does my motorcycle. My motorcycle also has a POW sticker, and one that says “In memory of all of those who did not return from Viet Nam.” And my yard has yellow ribbons, American flag ribbons, and an American flag. There’s an Army flag in the front window of my house. There’s a POW / MIA flag on my garage door. And I am rarely seen leaving my house without my 1st Cavalry Division baseball cap on.He taught me gratitude:
I have always been supportive of our troops, no matter what they’re doing. I have always had an immense amount of respect for the people who put themselves in harm’s way so that I will never have to. But in my contact with the wonderful people serving in our Armed Forces, I have learned a further, immeasurable amount of gratitude. When my Soldier writes to me of the things he’s been doing, of the things he’s seen, I am stunned by the magnitude of what they all do. A few packages and letters can never express my thanks. But it’s something, I suppose, and right now it’s all I have. And I will continue to spend every spare moment I have trying to repay the debt I owe.
I appreciate more each day the gifts that life has given me. I have a roof over my head, food on my table, a wonderful husband, and live in a country where I can speak my mind, where I can vote, where I can leave my house without fear of persecution, and worship as I choose. And I have the ability to take all of that for granted if I choose, thanks to the men and women who have fought and died to give me that.He taught me humility:
It is an amazingly humbling thing to realize what our service members do for us. Whenever I start to take myself too seriously, I think about what these brave people do in one day, and it just stuns me. I am proud of my accomplishments, but I also know what a real hero is.He taught me perspective:
I’m Irish and Scottish, and well, I can have a bit of a temper. When my husband backed my car into something several months ago, the potential was there for a grade-A dressing down. Granted, I was angry. But I’d just gotten a letter the day before from my Soldier, talking about the things that had gone on with his unit. I was starting in on my tirade, when it hit me. I just looked at my husband and said, “You know what? I’m not happy about this. I’m pretty annoyed. But in the grand scheme of things, this isn’t that big a deal. You’re here with me, instead of in Iraq. And the car’s just a thing.” And that was it. Anger gone.
And three weeks ago, I was involved in what could have been a devastating car accident. I walked away, thanks to good old American engineering, an airbag, and a bit of luck. The car had a great deal of damage, and my husband was a little irritated that they didn’t total the car. Me? I said, “I could have been killed. I’m bruised, sore, but otherwise fine. Worst case scenario, I get my car repaired. The way I see it, I’m ok, the car’s just a car, and the rest of it’s just gravy.”
With every “bad day” I have, my reaction to it is tempered by the knowledge of what a bad day really is. A bad day is when a friend of yours is killed in action, or wounded. A bad day is a car bombing, an IED, a firefight. A bad day is getting shot at. Any day that you have a job, you have a family, you have a roof over your head, food on the table, and no one’s shooting at you, is NOT a bad day.He taught me who I am:
I am a proud American. I believe in the values of our country, in our rights, in our freedoms. I am a caring person. I am a loving wife. I am honored to be called a friend by one of the finest people it has been my privilege to know; a Staff Sergeant in the United States Army. I am funny. I am creative. I make Soldiers and Marines laugh in the middle of a bad day. I am thanked by people for whom I do not have the words to express enough gratitude. At the end of my life, I will be able to say that in some small way, I made a difference somewhere along the line.
I am a Soldiers’ Angel.
All excerpts posted here are the property of the publisher, and should not be reposted or redistributed without their consent.