Thursday, September 24, 2009

Flags of our Fathers

With today being the 65 anniversary of one of the most iconic photos ever taken, I thought it was only appropriate to finish my post about Flags of our Fathers, by James Bradley.

23 February 1945, AP photographer Joe Rosenthal snapped a picture on a tiny island in the pacific. Because Rosenthal hadn't been able to look through the viewfinder when he took the picture he wasn't even sure if he had capture an image when he sent the film off. But caught something he did--he caught six men, a pole, and an American flag.

I was familiar with the iconic image--arguably one of the most recognized images in the world--but knew nothing about the battle, the men, or the tiny pacific island.

What I learned about the battle and the men involved in the battle both horrified me and inspired me. Before reading this book, I didn't know that the battle for Iwo Jima was the costliest battle in the Pacific and over the course of the 45 day battle, 6,821 American soldiers and 18,300 Japaness soldiers lost their lives. I didn't know that the famous picture we think of the flag raising was actually an image captured on the second raising of the flag.

Flags of our Fathers was one sons journey to better understand his father. Growning up James Bradley knew that his father, John Bradly, a navy medical corpsman was in the famous picture, but it was a subject that was never talked about. In fact when reporters called they were always told that their father was in Canada fishing. So when James Bradley found boxes of papers and war medals dealing with the battle after the death of his father, John Bradley, James began a three year quest to find out more about this battle and his father's role in it.

With cleverly placed fox holes, underground tunnels, and an enemy that was prepared to die instead of being captured, Iwo Jima. The fighting was intense, and the US would eventually suffer more casualties, both wounded than killed, than took place on D-day. Of the six men that raised the flag, three were killed in battle shortly after the raising. Of the three that survived, only one, John Bradley, was able to put the horror of the battle behind him and live a normal life.

Bradley skillfully weavers the childhood stories of these men together, chronicling the events that brought them to Iwo Jima. Wrapping us in their stories we see the young captain who's clearly shown helping one of his younger soldiers raise the flag, the anguish of a mother who knows that one of the men raising the flag is her dead son even though no one believers her, and the emotional scars the three survivors carry because of the they survived and were treated like heros when they knew that many of their comrades didn't make it off the island.

Bradley does a masterful job of separating these six men from the heroic icon they became while reminding us all that as his father said, "The heros of Iwo Jima are the guys who didn't come back."

After reading this book, I will never be able to look at that iconic photograph without remembering the great sacrifice that was made.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

My blog's been quoted in the newspaper

Didn't it used to be when you got your name quoted in the newspaper it meant that you had reached the big time? This blog, in connection with Illuminations of the Heart blog tour, was quoted in the Copper Basin News today. Check out the story here

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Catching Fire

Not since the sixth Harry Potter book have I finished a book and then had this need to discus what I read and speculate on what would happen in the next book. Almost as if discusing the book would somehow help me pass the time until the next book came out. Oh please come out soon. A whole year to wait really is mean. Over the last couple of weeks I've read numerous blog post hypothesizing what will happen in the third book. Some have echoed what I've, while others I really really hope aren't true because I don't think I could handle that. I'm not going to write a reveiw here, I don't want to spoil this book for anyone. But all I can say was that I LOVED, LOVED, LOVED it.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

The Route

“When we concern ourselves more with others, there is
less time to be concerned with ourselves.”
Spencer W. Kimball

We all have those moments in our life we are forced to take stock of our life. Where we wonder about the legacy we are leaving and wonder if we can do more.

As The Route begins, that is the dilemma Carol--the narrator--is facing. Carol has just turned fifty. All of her kids have left the house, leaving her with extra time and questioning what she should do with her life. As she says “Fifty makes you think. Thirty makes you morose, and forty makes you panic, but fifty makes you think. Half a century, and what is my life? Does it resemble anything I dreamed at sixteen, or expected at twenty, or hopes at twenty-five?” (The Route) When Carol sees a sign in the grocery store seeking volunteers for Wheels on Meals she sees it as a sign of what she should do with her life.

So with some trepidation, Carol begins her weekly delivery of meals bringing us along as we meet some zany, loveable, and downright colorful characters. You fall in love with Goldie, you are impressed with Althia, and wonder what cranky LaRue will say when Carol arrives. From each person that Carol introduces us to, we learn something from. Some are simple things such as “eat dessert first,” and “execute princess waves,” to the more profound “you don’t always know people’s history,” “you get back what you give,” “don’t compare yourself to others,” “there is more to people than there outward appearance,” “life is suffering,” and “we all have moments—we just can’t let them get us down.”

One of the things I really enjoyed about his book is that it presented a real picture of what it is like to grow old. It showed the struggles of loneliness, the fear of being forgotten, and the limitations that the body present. I, along with Carol, felt anger when somebody was mistreated by their family, sadness when someone was no longer part of “the route,” and laughed at the funny moments that showed me life is meant to be lived in spite of it all. Lastly, through Carol, we see that often the person that is doing the serving is really the one who is blessed. A lesson that I need as a daily reminder.

The Route is will make you want to reach out and serve those around us because as John Ruskin said, “The Highest reward for a person’s toil is not what they get for it, but what they become by it.”

You can buy the book at Desert Book, or Amazon.

Q&A with Gale Sears (Looking for ways to serve? Check out Gale's blog for daily service ideas)

1. While The Route was is a work of fiction, I know you drew upon your own experiences of delivering meals on wheels in the writing of this book. Did you have a real life favorite person you delivered meals to and did that person make it into the book?

Each person in, The Route was based on an actual person. I sincerely grew to love them all, but I did have a few favorites, based on how they made me laugh, or cry, or ponder life's meaning. Sometimes I would think about them and just laugh out loud because of their antics.

2. When did you know you wanted to write a book based on your experience. Was it still while you were doing Meals on Wheels or was it only after you had finished that you decided to write a book.

I didn't actually write anything down about my experiences until months after I finished delivering. I do remember having things happen or hearing stories from my seniors and thinking, "Wow! That would make an interesting book."

3. What was the one thing that you admired most from the people you delivered meal-on-wheels to?

I admired the fact that most of them, despite their difficulties, kept positive outlooks and continued to reach out to others.

4. What is one of the things that scares you most about growing old?

I'm not afraid of growing old, but I wouldn't like it if my life, opinions, and work ceased to have value.

5. If you could spend a free afternoon doing anything you wanted, what would that be?

Could I be anywhere I wanted to be too? If so, I'd rise early, go for a drive to Emerald Bay in Lake Tahoe, California, hike down to the water's edge, and have a picnic. I'd take along a good book to read. I'd also take along my sister, Teri. We'd remember funny stories and laugh.

Meals on Wheels facts

  1. The first meals on wheels program began in Great Britain during the World War Two and the Blitz
  2. The first meal delivered in the United States was delivered in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in January 1954.
  3. The many of the original delivers were high school students and earned the nickname "Platter Angels."
  4. About 750,000 seniors suffer hunger due to finances
  5. Single seniors are more like to suffer hunger than married seniors are.
  6. While certain groups of seniors are at greater-risk of hunger, hunger cuts across the income spectrum. Two-thirds of all those at risk for at risk for hunger are white.
  7. Factors such a high-school drop out, renting, living with grandchildren, no emotional support, and divorced or separated are more likely to face hunger issues.
  8. The Meal on Wheels program goes beyond just delivering meals. They help with emergency preparedness, fire prevention and loss education, as well as programs to help feed the elderly’s pets.
  9. The cost of the average Meal on Wheels meal is $6.35
  10. To deliver the 174.957 home meals in Shawnee and Jefferson counties in Kansas, Meals on Wheels relied on 1,200 volunteers

Remember, to leave a comment on the post to be enter to win a free copy of the book. The more times you comment on different post the more times you are entered in the drawing.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Catching Fire

Catching Fire is out! Yipee. I think a trip to the bookstore after work is in order. :)