for their Service and Sacrifice
It’s Veteran’s Day in the United States. Other countries also honor their veterans. Whether it’s called Veteran’s Day, Armistice Day, or Remembrance Day, we dedicate this day to thanks and remembrances for those who have served in an armed service. Now we also have the Veterans History Project.
In the U.S., we have national and regional observances for Veterans Day. There are banquets, parades, free meal offers, special discounts, and hundreds of charities through which we try to say thank you to our veterans. As a country, we have become more aware and more grateful to the soldiers who have served in the military since September 11, 2001. But we have other veterans, some of them feel forgotten and underappreciated. We can thank them and make certain they are not forgotten. We need to remember all of our veterans.
In October 2000, the U.S. Congress passed legislation to create the Veterans History Project (VHP). It is part of the Library of Congress American Folklife Center. The program collects and preserves the first-hand stories of America’s wartime veterans, primarily oral histories. VHP collects personal narratives, letters, and visual materials from veterans of World War I (1914-1920); World War II (1939-1946); the Korean War (1950-1955); the Vietnam War (1961-1975); the Persian Gulf War (1990-1995), and the Afghanistan and Iraq conflicts (2001-present). The Project also accepts the first-hand stories of citizens who actively supported the war (USO workers, flight instructors, medical volunteers, etc.). (Please be aware that there are other websites that use the name Veterans History Project, but are not part of the Library of Congress.)
The VHP collection is available to the public at the Library of Congress. There is no charge. Of the 60,000 collections in the Library of Congress, more than 5,000 are fully digitized. You may access those through the website. If you need a specific collection or specific subject researched, there is an Ask the Librarian feature you can use.
About now you’re asking yourself, how does this help me thank veterans? You can help collect veterans stories for the Project. Record an interview an American veteran one you know, or one you get to know for the purpose of participating in this project. Their experiences are an important part of American history. Recording their stories assures that they won’t be forgotten, that they are honored, remembered, and respected. Go, print off the VHP Field Kit to get the specifics on how to record the interview and submit it to VHP.
Not an American? I was able to find oral history collections available for my Canadian friends, at the Military Oral History collections of the University of Victoria Libraries and for my Australian friends, there is the Through My Eyes collection at the Australians At War website.
Have you thanked a veteran today? Have you asked to hear his or her story? If you have his or her permission, I’d love for you to share with us in the comments below.
Have you heard of the Veterans History Project? Are you a veteran? Thank you so much for your service. Your service and your story are important, to me and to my readers. Will you share a bit of your story here?
A few years back, I decided I would make my living as a writer and would teach a ‘How to Write Fiction’ class at a local community center. It was an awesome experience but I never expected a lesson about being the hero of your story.
I have spread my dreams beneath your feet.
Tread softly because you tread on my dreams.
I prepared an introduction to myself and the course, a syllabus, ten lessons, in-class and at home exercises for each lesson, and reading assignments. Once the lessons were written, I rehearsed and rehearsed. Finally, I was ready!
Finally, the day arrived. Eight students, ranging from a high schooler to a gray-haired woman of undetermined age, waited for me. I took a deep breath and stepped in front of the class. I welcomed them to the class, introduced myself by name and declared “I am a professional writer.” A hand raised. A question already?
“When did you start calling yourself a professional writer?” the student asked. Intellectually, I had prepared an answer to that question, but emotionally prepared? Not so much. I couldn’t even admit to myself that I had just said it for the first time. Instead, I answered with the information I’d prepared, that I had been a professional writer since I began writing with the intent to sell what I wrote. I think I even quoted the definition of professional to the class.
I was being truthful. My answer fit the definition of professional and my approach to writing fiction. But, as truthful as that answer was, I had never believed it enough to say it aloud until that night. Still, the answer seemed to satisfy the questioner. And despite my anxiety, I got through the rest of that evening.
Fact is, I had nearly 100% attendance for all ten classes. I ended up teaching in that community center for a couple of years. My classes grew in size and I taught my students skills they could use to improve their writing. I know I learned a lot.
I made other things a priority while my writing took a backseat to the traumas and banalities of life.
I’ve had to relearn the most important lesson I learned when teaching at that community center course: how to stand up and be who I am.
Watching the Olympics this week I am awed by the dreams we are watching. The athletes proclaim their dream with every trial, every race, every practice. Many of them are fortunate enough to have the support of their loved ones. But most of all, they NEVER let go of their dreams. To my mind, each Olympic athlete is a hero of his or her story.
Everyone has a dream. Maybe your dream is to be an Olympic athlete, a writer, a chef, or a plumber. No matter what the dream is, sometimes it is hard to hang onto your dream. You may have a hard time believing in yourself. Your parents or your partner may be the person who belittles your dream. It could be they call your dream cute, or a hobby, or your ‘little’ stories. You excuse them because it’s not really _bad_ stuff they’re saying. Yes. It. Is. Stop the negative energy.
Believe in yourself. Believe in your dream. Make it a mantra: Mine is “I am a writer.” Repeat it as many times a day as you need it. Declare it. Own it. Be your own champion.
Go confidently in the direction of your dreams.
Live the life you have imagined.
~Henry David Thoreau
The arts are so much more than mere entertainment. Whether it is a painting, a sculpture, dance, theater, a video, music, or words in a book, a poem, a song, the arts speak to us on an emotional level. The arts bring joy, inspiration, comfort us during sorry, and are often linked to cherished memories. Today’s music selections are an artistic vehicle celebrating daydreams and heroes. Won’t you join me?
While this song’s lyrics don’t make a specific point, it’s about starting the day. What can it mean to a daydream believer? Start the day affirming your daydreams, be a daydream believer.
Talk about evoking an emotional response. Yeah, it’s a love song, and but if you take it in a broader sense it can be a celebration of any daydream that makes you feel alive. This song makes me want to move. Walking on sunshine feels good.
Another song about dreams. It reminds us that our struggle is all about trying. It’s not about how fast we get there. It’s not about what’s waiting on the other side. It’s about the climb.
The lyrics to this beautiful song reminds us all that we all feel down sometimes. All we have to do is hold on, there will be a tomorrow. And when you cast your fears aside, look inside you and be strong, a hero lies in you.
No matter its form, art reaches into our souls. Don’t forget to take time to enjoy your favorite form of art.
We can all be Daydream Believers who walk on sunshine as we climb to find the hero within. Reach for your dreams. You can do it.
If you aren’t an artist or can’t connect with this selection, read “Believe.” We are all heroes–everyday.
I hope this little interlude celebrating daydreams and heroes inspired you a bit today. It did me.
2011 is coming to an end, and for some, not a moment too soon. You might question my sanity with the post title 2011, the good news. There were politicians, businessmen, and celebrities who behaved badly. Earthquakes, tsunamis, and tornadoes that killed and destroyed. Economies of many nations hover on the brink of collapse. There were heroes who struggled to save, to take a stand, and who perished in that fight. Even on a personal level, I had many challenges that took huge chunks of time to process and overcome.
Many people, particularly the news media, look for the shocking, the tragic or the disheartening stories from the past year. They seem to revel in the ugliness of behaviors and events.
Not me. I am a glass-half-full kind of gal. It’s that attitude, that expectation that helps me see the huge range of good that happens. Despite all the economic downfalls, natural disasters and humans behaving badly, things were not as bad as they seemed. There were stories of heroes across the world and in the US, stories of advances in science and health, and of course, changes in the world of publishing, too.
In UTAH strangers ignored the danger to themselves and saved a man trapped beneath a burning car.
Wildlife rangers protect animals in the Congo at great risk to themselves.
CNN’s search for heroes found some amazing people. And the hero of the year is helping women and newborns in Indonesia.
This video is long at 19 minutes, but it is an amazing story of how Alberto Cairo found humanity and dignity in the midst of war in Afghanistan. He calls his talk There Are No Scraps of Men.
It started with One Person in Michigan and spread around the country. Secret Santas pay off layaways. Thanks to Janelle Madigan for this story.
There are amazing advances in science from better hip replacement devices, to plasma brushes that promise painless dental work, to solar energy systems in North Africa that will provide clean power for the region and Europe here.
How about this amazing piece? New Leukemia Treatment Exceeds Expectations.
Now, who says fantasy authors don’t get no respect? Author of the Year.
Just think what this means for ebook sales!
I count 2011 as a huge success. You will find my list of accomplishments here. I’ll share my goals for 2012 in another post. I hope to exceed those goals.
I don’t pretend to know what 2012 will bring, not on a personal level, a professional level, a national level, or a worldwide level. There will be bad things that happen in 2012. That’s the way of the world. But I know there will be good things that happen, too. That’s the way of humanity. We’re a mixed bag of good, mediocre, and bad. You have to be wary of the bad, but don’t be so on guard that you miss the good.
So on this eve of the New Year’s Eve, my wish for friends, family, and yes, even foe is that you make the effort to see the good despite whatever happens because attitude and expectations can lead from good to great.
What about you? Do you look for the good? What was your 2011, the good news? Won’t you share those stories with us?