Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Remembering our veterans

If there is one American holiday that never seems to get its due, it is Veterans Day. Lost in the maze between Halloween and Christmas, it is often confused with Memorial Day — if it is remembered at all.

Which is a shame, of course. If anything, we should dedicate a week to those who have served in the armed forces. Even a month would not be too much, at least not in my opinion.

I don't mention Veterans Day or even Armistice Day, as it was known from 1919 until 1954, in any of my seven novels, but I do play up the event that inspired it in one of the books.

In Chapter 35 of The Show, time traveler Grace Vandenberg comforts a friend by telling her that a war raging in Europe will end "on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month.” She is later witness to an impromptu parade that breaks out in Seattle when the armistice of November 11, 1918, is announced.

Grace's love interest in The Show is a wounded officer who has just returned from the battlefields of France. John Walker, a U.S. Army captain, plays a small but relevant part in a book that is, in some respects, a tribute to those who fought in World War I.

Jack Hicks, a retired admiral, plays a similar role in Mercer Street. He serves his country admirably by advocating peace through strength at a time (1938-1939) when many Americans preferred to ignore or play down growing militarism in Germany and Japan.

In other books, I mention veterans of the Civil War, the American Indian wars, the Spanish-American War, World War II, and the conflict in Vietnam. Those serving in more peaceful times also get their due. Brian Johnson, the nerdy high school senior in The Journey, tests his mettle by joining the Rangers in the 1980s.

I have also used civilian characters to honor vets. In The Mine, Joel Smith, a 22-year-old time traveler in 1941, wonders whether he can measure up to those who have served. He is haunted by memories of grandfathers who fought valiantly in World War II and by knowledge of the fate that awaits his Army-bound best friend.

I don't know whether I will feature veterans in the remaining books of the American Journey series, but I do know I will look for opportunities to do so. I think it's important to draw attention, even through fiction, to those who have done so much for so many.

Happy Veterans Day to the millions of men and women who answered the call. This civilian is grateful for your service.

No comments:

Post a Comment