Last August my husband and I enjoyed a visit to New England. The trip included both a walking tour and bus tour of Boston, a city rich with history. The details weren’t new. They included stories that I learned as a child. Yet standing on the ground where patriots carved out the origins of a nation gave it a whole new perspective. We stood at the doorway to Paul Revere’s home, then walked to the Old North Church which once held the infamous lanterns—one if by land; two if by sea. We saw where Patrick Henry took his stand for liberty, knowing that failure would certainly lead to his execution.

Forty people were on the bus tour for nine days. It’s a great way to make new friends. That’s how I met Mike and Vada Manus. We talked over dinner and Mike showed me a neck chain that he wore tucked inside his shirt. The pendant is the bullet that they removed from his side. He also wore a scar from the stitches on his arm. Both injuries from combat in Vietnam.

I grew up in the era of the Vietnam War. It was a time when all able-bodied young men were drafted into military service. Everyone knew soldiers who served in that southeast Asian country, and many knew young men who never returned.

Mike wasn’t drafted. He enlisted at the tender age of seventeen. After boot camp in Ft. Jackson, he moved to Ft. Gordon for AIT (Advanced Individual Training), and then spent three years in Germany. At the age of 21, he went to Vietnam.

“For the first time, I felt fear. Before this, it was training. This was real.” He explained that a chopper took him to the base camp where they were to prepare for the mission that would occur the following day.

“The next day is one I will never forget. My company was sent on a recon outside the base camp. We ran into two units of North Vietnamese soldiers. I was shot in my right arm and right side. I spent two months in Japan in the hospital.” Mike recounted how, upon returning to the states, his service was met with disdain, even being spit upon. “This was not what I had envisioned. Would I do it again? Yes. I am a soldier. I am proud to wear the uniform of the US Army.” Mike–SSG. Lonnie M. Manus—did do it again. He re-enlisted and remained in military service to our country for sixteen years.

Mike’s story is one of many. I share it because, just as seeing Boston helped to bring history to life, meeting Mike Manus reminded me of the reality of sacrificial service. The patriots who forged our nation’s path knew their stand could cost them their lives. Each man and woman in military service to our country knowingly face the same risk.

Today we remember. We honor those fallen soldiers, those wounded warriors, and those with memories of days they will never forget.

 

 

Old North Memorial Garden in Boston commemorates those lives lost in Iraq and Afghanistan. The picture is grainy and hard to see details, but the memorial features rows of dog tags.

 

 

 

 

If you’re a booklover as I am, here are a few recommendations that help us to remember. I’ve hyperlinked the titles for your convenience.

 

Flowers From Afghanistan, by Suzy Parish

Winner of two awards—Best First Book by the National Readers Choice and a bronze medal from the Military Writers Society of America.

Mac and Sophie grieve the loss of their son. Mac thinks he can handle his grief and guilt by running away. His job in Afghanistan leaves Sophie to find healing alone. Can their love survive the distance and the hurt? Have a box of tissues handy when you read.

Author Suzy Parish does a remarkable job of describing Afghanistan–both the rugged war-torn terrain and the beauty of the human spirit. Pour a cup of good coffee and settle back to enjoy this story. It will touch your heart. Free on Kindle Unlimited. Free with your Audible trial. Paperback format is available for those of us who love the aroma of a new book and the texture of physical pages.

Until June, by Barbara M. Britton

Until June is a novel that whisks you to a different time and place. Nearing the end of WWI and set in Alaska, Josephine displays a heart of compassion, first for her ailing mother and later for Geoff, a wounded warrior. Geoff returns from war after losing both legs to an explosion. He’s hurting, both physically and emotionally, and he makes it difficult for those around him. Josephine’s job is to care for him until June. Through the journey of care, we meet the real Geoff. The man behind the injury. Characterization is so strong and well written as we see the unfolding of his true personality; a man who never anticipated the turn his life would take. In time, Josephine begins to see the man, not the injury.

Until June was a Pages From the Heart finalist. This is a powerful message for all people—a challenge to see wounded warriors and people with physical impairments for who they are, not for their disability. I highly recommend it.

 

While My Soldier Serves, by Edie Melson   

Prayers for Those with Loved Ones in the Military

This book of prayers offers words of comfort for those waiting at home. Author Edie Melson, a former military mother, shares that prayers are the first line of defense for those we love. Great words for mothers everywhere. These pages address fear, loneliness, patience, faith, strength, protection, encouragement, and more.

This book has been used on the National Day of Prayer, and was chosen by Cracker Barrel stores in 2017 as their featured military book.

While I personally don’t have military children, I’ve gifted this book to those who do. What better gift to give those who wait at home!  Take a moment today to pray for our armed forces.

Arms of Freedom by Kathleen Neely

Despite the title, Arms of Freedom is not a military novel. It does delve into the tumultuous aftermath of the American Civil War. 100% of author proceeds for Arms of Freedom purchased between Nov. 11 and Nov. 20 will be donated to the Wounded Warrior Project. It is an accredited non-profit organization which serves veterans by supporting their physical and emotional health so they can live independently. You can support them directly at https://www.woundedwarriorproject.org/donate or by purchasing a copy of Arms of Freedom at https://www.amazon.com/Arms-Freedom-Kathleen-Neely-ebook/dp/B09FKKTWCX

Here’s a blurb to tell you about Arms of Freedom.

With each page of the age-old journals, Annie discovers all that unites her with a woman who once lived in her farmhouse. One lived with wealth and one with poverty, but both knew captivity. Both longed to be free.

Miriam yearns to escape her life as a super model. She drops the pseudonym and uses the name she gave up years ago—Annie Gentry. Then she alters her appearance and moves to rural South Carolina to care for her grandmother. Can she live a simple life without recognition? Can she hide a net worth valued in the millions? Love is nowhere in her plans until she meets a man who wants nothing more than Annie Gentry and the simple life he lives.

Charlotte lived in the same farmhouse in the tumultuous 1860’s. The Civil War was over, but for a bi-racial girl, freedom remained elusive. She coveted a life where she wouldn’t bring shame to her family. A life where she could make a difference. As she experiences hope, will it be wrested from her?

The journals stop abruptly with a climactic event, leaving Annie to search for information. What happened to Charlotte? Did her life make a difference?  Did she ever find freedom?

 

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