Monday, November 9, 2015

Books Celebrating the Heroes of War

 Since Vietnam, there seems to have been a negative trend of not honoring military heroes and wars.  To be perfectly honest,  war is brutal.  It is horrific. Yet, this is not the fault of the veterans. They are simply men and women who served, doing the best that they can in the situation they find themselves.  More often than not, the details in books and movies simply do not do justice to the realities they face.     Most veterans returning home rarely want to share what they experienced because of the trauma.  Having said that,  sometimes war is a necessary evil.  When there are men like Hitler,  Mao and Lenin who have destroyed lives for their own political gains something must be done to stop them.   During these harrowing times,  there are stories that come forth to show the power of the human spirit to overcome darkness that sheds light on good men and women.    The stories give us hope that no matter how bad life is at the moment,  the sacrifice and suffering of today may lead to a better tomorrow.

One such story that captures good overcoming evil is Col. Larry Guarino's   A P.O.W.'s Story: 2801 Days in Hanoi  This is a story of inspirational hope against all odds. Guarino's fellow prison mates at the Hanoi Hilton, as it was affectionally became known as, were inspired by his messages that he transmitted through the floors in morse code.   Not only that, but during his time in Hanoi, he never lost his hope or humor.     This may be what saved him and his prison mates. As the reader turns the pages, questions of how this man withstood the torture keeps recurring in the mind. A harder question to answer,  would the reader be able to endure such horror?   A must read.

In 2006,  Bill Sloan reintroduced readers to  the mostly forgotten battle in World War II.  In Brotherhood of Heroes : The marines at Peleliu, 1944 -- The bloodiest Battle  of the Pacific War    Sloan interviewed the veterans of Peleliu , enabling him to pull together the story, or rather the nightmare that these men experienced between September 15 and October 15, 1944.   One of the most accurate description of combat that does not gloss over the emotions of what it means to fight for one's country and one's life.   By the end of this book, the reader will not be able to help but have a deeper appreciation and respect for the men and women who wear the Marine uniform.

Mitchell Zuckoff is not a novice when it comes to gripping, harrowing  stories of military bravery.  His book Lost in Shangri-La  prepared him to tell the story of the brave men of the Untied States Coast Guard who  braved the vast Arctic wilderness to attempt a daring rescue.   Frozen in Time: An Epic Story of Survival and a Modern Quest for Lost Heroes of World War II  recounts the story of a US cargo plane that crashed into the Greenland Ice Cap on November 5, 1942.  During the first rescue of the survirs a Grumman Duck amphibious plane flew into a storm and vanished.   Normally a book such as this would end with how the survivors have gone on with their lives..  Not this one.  Bringing readers to the present day,   Zuckoff details  the efforts of  the Coast Guard and North South Polar solve the mystery of what happened  tot he Duck's last flight and recover the remains of the crew.   Were they successful?  Pick up the book and find out.

These are just three very well written books that vividly retell the story of heroism, sacrifice and sense of honor.  Without a doubt, these books will make an impact on how a reader views the military and it's contribution to history.  For better or for worse, the men and women who have defended our country against all odds deserve gratitude and respect.  It goes without saying that a special acknowledgement of gratitude to the authors who have shared the stories so well. 

Veteran's Day  is on November 11th.  There are so many more stories to share, thankfully it is early in the week.  Needless to say, there will be more to come. 

Post a Comment