You Give Me Hope

The very first time I posted on this blog, I wrote that I believe in everyday heroes. I stand by that post. But it needs to be expanded. Because I believe in a world where all people are equal, where leaders work for the greater good, and where all people are kind and care for one another. Obviously, that’s not reality today. Because we aren’t there yet, many people think I’m too simple or optimist or even blind to reality. Perhaps. But here are the reasons I believe in humanity. You give me hope.

Photograph of a cloudy sky with tall pines in front of mountains and a rainbow that reaches the ground an example of the hope you give me.


Humans are the most resilient and adaptable species on the planet. Many of us experience difficulties, horrible setbacks, and epic tragedies. Yet, most of us recover from those things. It’s not that we ignore what happened, but we adapt. We move forward.

There are many famous people who are examples of resilience. Oprah Winfrey, J. K. Rowling, and Stephen King are on the list but there are millions more. People whose rise above their circumstances didn’t raise them to mega-star heights. They survived. They kept on keeping on and became heroes for their family and their neighbors and sometimes for themselves.


One of the most famously persistent persons is Thomas Edison. He’s one of many now famous people who failed before they succeeded. Their drive, their persistence, led to success. Not one of them was perfect.

They weren’t perfect, but they tried. If they failed, they learned from their failure and tried again. Persistence means learning, practicing, and trying repeatedly. But the famous aren’t the only ones who are persistent.

The most persistent people in the world aren’t famous or crazy rich. They are those who wake up and go to work today and do it again tomorrow and the day after that. They may never be famous, but they have incredible stick-to-it-ness.

Problem Solvers

The human capacity for solving problems is amazing. We’ve sent people to the moon and to a station where they work in microgravity. We’ve found sunken ships. Our scientists have created vaccines to prevent some diseases and found cures for others. There are airplanes and elevators and escalators. Television. The internet.

Millions of people solve problems every day. They aren’t rich. And they’ll never be stars. They find their next meal, or dig a well for fresh water (or 195 wells), or simply get through one more day because they are problem solvers.


There have been so many problems solved, yet more and more problems crop up. Or things we thought we’d prevented or solved come back like a boomerang. It’s true. With billions of people on the planet, there are always many problems to solve. But if we focus on the problems without hope, we cannot solve them. We are quickly overwhelmed.

Hope is part of the package. Not hope as in cherishing a desire. But the archaic form of hope—to trust, to expect with confidence. If you have no hope, you aren’t resilient or persistent or a problem solver. And since there are so very many people out there who are resilient, persistent, problem-solvers—we are also a people with a lot of hope.

What I Believe

Image of  the blue sky and sun with two hands forming a heart with the sun in the center of the hands. Thank you for giving me hope

The problems we fear today, that seem so insurmountable today, aren’t. A resilient and persistent problem solver will tackle and solve these problems in part or in whole. This isn’t a vain hope. It’s an expectation that human beings are resilient, resourceful, persistent, and problem solving.

I believe in you. You are a human being. You have resilience, resourcefulness, persistence, and problem-solving skills. Whether you are solving a creative problem or finding the resources to get through the day, to save your neighbors, or to save the world—you give me hope. Thank you.

May the Fourth Be With You

It’s May 4th and if you didn’t know, it’s the unofficial Star Wars holiday. Obviously, May the Fourth be with you is an interpretation of the Jedi slogan, May the Force be with You. But during this pandemic it has more meaning than ever.

Image of Yoda in a Star Wars tribute made of sand, a May the Fourth be with you salute

Star Wars may be escape fiction / movies, but that doesn’t negate the meanings within the story. Finding a purpose, friendship, banding together to overcome an adversary are themes in the Star Wars movies. The journey young Skywalker takes is about learning to be a hero. If you look, that’s what you see happening during this pandemic.

What Is a Hero

According to Merriam-Webster dictionary 

a hero is: 

a person who is admired for great or brave acts or fine qualities

a person who is greatly admired

the chief male character in a story, play, movie, etc.

So a hero is someone you admire. You get to choose your heroes and heroines.

A color sketch of Princess Leia, May the Fourth be with you

Who Are the Heroes?

First responders and healthcare workers (more than just doctors and nurses but aides and secretaries and housekeeping and food services for just a few) have had their day jobs transform into a mighty and heroic battle against a common enemy.

Every day folk (grocery store employees, delivery folk, folks in the food industry, and so many more) have also become heroes. But so have the thousands who have stayed home to help flatten the curve. Even if staying home wasn’t your choice, you did it. Thank you.

Don’t Call Me Hero

I know there are many who object to being called a hero. They seem to think the word loses its meaning by being tossed around a lot these days. They feel that too many people say the words and think that’s enough. I understand, they lack proper equipment and are “just doing their job.” But they remain heroes because they do their job or choose to stay home regardless of their fear. And the choice to call someone a hero is made by the person who does the admiring. So get comfortable with the word. You are admired. You are a hero.

May the Force Be With You

No matter what you are doing, or not doing, may the fourth be with you. May you band together in deeper friendships with all people, find a purpose, and find the courage to do what is right. And enjoy the reruns of any and all Star Wars entertainment. May the Fourth Be With You. And May the Force Be with You always.

A D-Day Musical and Literary Tribute

Yesterday was the 75th anniversary of D-Day, the day that changed history. The Allies sent soldiers in a massive assault against the Germans. Thousands went into battle. Thousands died, thousands were injured. We honor this day and remember those who fought and those who died. There is little new to be said, but we mustn’t forget the men and women who sacrificed to stop the fascists. This musical and literary tribute for D-Day is a small attempt to honor those whose lives were forever changed because of World War II.

Photograph shot looking out of the boat with soldiers wading to the Normandy shore. A musical and literary tribute for D-Day
By Chief Photographer’s Mate (CPHoM) Robert F. Sargent – Public Domain,

“I’ll Be Seeing You”

Billie Holiday, 1938

Billie Holliday sang this soulful song in 1938. In the lyrics she tells her love she will see him everywhere she looks (even though he’s gone away). It became the farewell anthem for soldiers and has been sung by many others.

The Diary of a Young Girl

Anne Frank © 1947

German-born and Jewish, Anne Frank got a diary for her thirteenth birthday. A short while later, she and her family went into hiding. Her diary shares details of her daily life, her wishes, and her desires until the Nazis captured her and her family. She died in a concentration camp at the age of fifteen. Her father, the family’s only survivor, published parts of her diary in her memory. 

The honest, raw story is a study of optimism in dire circumstances.

“We’ll Meet Again”

The D-Day Darlings, 2018

The British song, “We’ll Meet Again,” originally sung by Vera Lynn in 1939 became quite popular. This recent rendition revives the song of hope.

The Flowers of Hiroshima

Edita Morris © 1959

This tender story of Hiroshima illustrates the horrors and the aftermath of the atomic bomb. This story will haunt you.

The Shawl

Cynthia Ozick ©1977

The Shawl is a powerful story of the devastating physical, psychological, and emotional scars suffered at the hands of the Nazis. Its imagery and characters will stay with you for a very long time.

The Shores of Normandy

Jim Radford, 2019

Sung by a veteran of Normandy this song expresses his memories in an effort to support the British Normandy Memorial. Its lyrics have touched millions and reached the top of the charts.

There have been hundreds of songs and thousands of stories written about or in reaction to the war. Read about another way to learn stories about the war in my post Remembering: Veterans History Project (not just WWII or D-day but all wars).

This musical and literary tribute for D-Day is small but heartfelt. The songs and stories have earned a spot in my heart and I hope you will sample them. Please add your favorite musical or literary D-Day or WW2 tribute in the comments. 

Inspiration from War and Resistance

Novelists are often told, “write what you know.” That’s not quite right. They should learn what they don’t know. Then when they write, they write from a place of knowing. I wanted to write about everyday people who decide to fight for their freedom. So I turned to history again. I needed inspiration for my then in-progress novel, My Soul to Keep. I looked for character inspiration from war and resistance. I found a lot more.

Google is my friend. I searched for resistance and freedom fighters. Scanning hundreds of articles about resistance groups or rebels or freedom fighters I looked for firsthand accounts. I read a lot of articles. Articles about the American Revolution, the Syrian Civil War, and the Polish, the Yugoslavian, the Dutch, and the French resistance fighters in WWII.

Syrian Civil War and Reality

There were two resources I returned to over and over again. I found a number of YouTube videos about the Syrian Civil War. These were videos not for the faint of heart. They showed the real brutality of war, the spirit of resistance, and the destruction of homes and lives. It also showed the resilience of the human spirit.

People lived in the ruins of cities under appalling conditions. Food and clothing were scarce. Once thriving shopping districts had been reduced to rubble. Rebels took refuge in tunnels under the cities. In the documentary I watched, there were times the rebels were under such heavy fire they could not leave those tunnels. Still, they found the spirit to sing songs and joke amongst themselves.

Seven years after the beginning of that war, it is ongoing today. I cannot find the video that seared itself into my brain today. But there are many enlightening documentaries still available.

Not for this book

The devastation of that war was not what the first book of My Soul to Keep needed. I filed away my notes and turned to another source.

Agnes Humbert

My next resource was an audiobook. Resistance: Memoirs of Occupied France by Agnes Humbert narrated by Joyce Bean. Agnes was an art historian in Paris when Germans occupied the city. She tells of how she oversaw the packing of the art in the museum where she worked. Then there was little more to pack and her boss sent her home.

Inspiration from World War II Resistance. Lynette M Burrows tells of research she did into resistance fighters while writing My Soul to Keep.
Audiobook Résistance by Agnès Humbert available on


She went home, packed up, and left the city. But she couldn’t stand the idea of leaving her home to the Germans. She joined a resistance group. A bunch of regular people who couldn’t bear to watch what was happening to their city and nation. As regular folk, they weren’t warriors or strategists or terribly security-minded. They did what they could with what little they had.

They developed a network. Everyday folk milled around at train depots and shops listening to soldiers talking. They questioned people passing through town. Surreptitiously they printed a newsletter they called Resistancee.   They repored what news they had, movement of troops if they could.  They circulated it under the noses of German soldiers.


Eventually, they were betrayed to the Gestapo. Humbert was imprisoned. She faced days of uncertainty and interrogation. Eventually, she was transferred to the first of several labor camps. She relates, in detail, what life in labor camps was like. She talks about how meager food rations and clothing were. The prisoners were forced to work when ill or injured. Punishments for failing to work were severe. Agnes managed to steal and hide scraps of paper. She recorded her activities and thoughts. Had her notes been found she would have been killed. Seven of her friends were executed. She survived.

The audiobook is engrossing and horrifying. Yet, through it all, Humbert had a brave, witty, and compassionate attitude. I highly recommend listening to this one.

What I Learned

My research revealed that everyday people don’t make the best military-minded decisions. But their lack of military know-how is part of what helped them endure. This was my inspiration. From WWII  and the resistance in Syria, I recreated war and resistance in My Soul to Keep. Have you read about real resistance fighters? Which ones? What did you learn from your reading?

Fun Facts and Trivia about America’s Patriotic Music

Photo of the U.S . Navy Band Northeast performing at the annual Memorial Day services on Manhattan's Upper West Side.

Let’s celebrate this month’s theme of Independence and Liberty and Freedom with fun facts and trivia about America’s patriotic music.

Can You Name the Patriotic Song that Matches These Lyrics?

01. “Where the grapes of wrath are stored”
02.“Thru the night with a light”
03.“There’s pride in every American heart”
04.“We fight our country’s battles”
05.“The banner of the western land”
06.“broad stripes and bright stars”
07.“Mind the music and the steps”
08.”A thoroughfare for freedom beat”
09.”Land where my fathers died”
10.“That ribbon of highway”
11.“See what freedom costs in each marble cross”
12.“Silver wings upon their chest”
13.“All is well, Safely rest. God is nigh.”
14.“You’re the emblem of the land I love”
15.“A real live nephew of my Uncle Sam”
16.“When you hear mother freedom start ringin her bell”
17.”Where we dream as big as we want to”
18.”some stood through for the red, white and blue”
19.”I’m out here on the front lines, sleep in peace tonight”
20.”We’ll rally round the flag, boys”
(Answers at the bottom of this post.)

The Star Spangled Banner

  • by Francis Scott Key
  •  Spangled Banner” written by Francis Scott Key was originally a poem based on his observations of the British attack on Baltimore’s Fort McHenry during the War of 1812.
  • It was later put to music.
  • The tune of the National Anthem was originally used by an English drinking song called To Anacreon in Heaven.
  • It was named the official National Anthem in 1931.


  • by Daniel D. Emmett
  • It was the national anthem of the Confederacy during the Civil War.
  •  It was one of Abraham Lincoln’s favorite songs.

The Marine Hymn

  • author unknown
  • The melody may actually came from a French opera.
  • The line “From the halls of Montezuma (1847) to the shores of Tripoli(1805)” is aesthetically pleasing, but chronologically inaccurate.

Wild Blue Yonder (U.S. Air Force Song)

  • by Robert Howard
  • Robert Howard unanimously won the U.S. Air Force’s song writing competition.
  • In 1939 the English Oxford Dictionary added an extra definition to the word “yonder” meaning “the far and trackless distance.”

Anchors Away (U.S. Navy Song)

  • by Charles A. Zimmerman
  • Originally written as an inspiring football march in 1906.
  • Lieut. Zimmerman is said to have sat at the Naval Academy Chapel organ while he composed the song

God Of Our Fathers

  • by George William Warren
  • Protestant hymn was written to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence

Let’s celebrate this month’s theme of Independence and Liberty and Freedom with fun facts and trivia about America’s patriotic music. Read more.

You’re a Grand Old Flag

  • by George M. Cohan
  • Written in 1906 inspired by a Civil War vet pride in a tattered old flag.

Yankee Doodle Dandy

  • Originally sung prior to the revolution by British troops making fun of unorganized and buckskin-wearing “Yankees” who were allied with the British in the French and Indian War (1754-1763).
  • It is most associated with the American Revolutionary War.

Battle Hymn Of the Republic

  • lyrics by Julia Ward Howe
  • American Civil War song of the Union.
  • Uses the tune of “John Brown’s Body”.
  • The song was a favorite of the great United Kingdom Prime Minister Sir Winston Churchill.
  • It was performed at the National Cathedral in Washington D.C. and at St Paul’s Cathedral in London to honor the victims of the 9/11 attacks.

This Is My Country

  • by Al Jacobs and Don Raye
  • Written during the great depression

The Stars And Stripes Forever

  • by John Phillip Sousa
  • Penned just before the outbreak of The Spanish-American War
  • It’s now our national march.


  • a.k.a My Country Tis of Thee lyrics by Samuel Francis Smith
  • It has the same melody as the United Kingdom song God Save The Queen/King.

God Bless America

  • by Irving Berlin
  • Irving Berlin was a Jewish/Russian immigrant.

Answers to the Patriotic Song Lyrics Matching Game above.

01. Battle Hymn of the Republic by Julia Ward Howe / 02. God Bless America by Irving Berlin / 03. God Bless the USA by Lee Greenwood / 04. The Marine’s Hymn (From the Halls of Montezuma) – Author Unknown / 05.Stars and Stripes Forever by John Philip Sousa / 06. The Star Spangled Banner by Francis Scott Key / 07.Yankee Doodle by Richard Shuckburgh / 08. America, The Beautiful by Katharine Lee Bates / 09. America orMy Country, ‘Tis of Thee by Samuel F. Smith / 10. This Land Is Your Land by Woody Guthrie / 11. What the Flag Means by Mark Heffron / 12. The Ballad of the Green Beret by Staff Sergeant Barry Sadler and Robin Moore / 13. Taps by Daniel Adams Butterfield / 14. You’re A Grand ‘Ole Flag by George M. Cohan / 15. I’m a Yankee Doodle Dandy by George M. Cohan / 16. Courtesy of the Red, White & Blue by Toby Keith / 17. Only in America by Brooks and Dunn / 18. Some Gave All by Billy Ray Cyrus / 19. American Soldier by Toby Keith / 20. Battle Cry of Freedom by George F. Root

So how did you do? Did you know the trivia? Did you match the lyrics to the correct song title?

Thanks to Diva Girl Parties and Stuff for the patriotic song game.
And thanks to Powell Music for the patriotic music fun facts.