On this day dedicated to fallen heroes, it’s worth considering how much we owe them and how much we owe those who served and survived their ordeals. The notion that we may live in peace and security is founded on their personal acceptance of risk, hardship, injury, and even death.
My novels and short stories nearly always deal with heroes and heroism. I come from a family with a long tradition of military service. I am surrounded by soldiers, sailors, and airmen, living or existing now only in memory, who took up the weapons of war. Each one, I am sure, bore those weapons not with dreams of glorious conquest, but with thoughts of obligation, service to others, and hope for lasting peace.
In my stories I often delve into the hearts and minds of warriors, not so much to extoll their ferocity in battle, but to examine their thoughts of home, their reasons for fighting, and their love of those they strive to defend or rescue.
In RAINIER ERUPTS! I focus on military rescue helicopter pilots and their crews, flying into life-threatening situations to save victims of a volcanic cataclysm. In HERBERT HOPP’S STORY I followed my Uncle Herb’s World War II experience in a torpedo bomber shot down onto a jungle island after striking a Japanese warship. Herb was the only man to return alive and he bore physical and emotional scars for a lifetime. Even in my science fiction series DINOSAUR WARS, much of the action keys on brave Captain Victor Suarez, whose tank troop faces an overwhelming invasion even while they are uncertain their families are safe from attack at home.
Time and again, my stories enter the hearts and minds of warriors on the side of good, whose dearest wish is to live in peace but whose mission is to fight–and perhaps to die.
On this Memorial Day 2016, it’s worth contemplating words penned in 1913 by Katherine Lee Bates in the second verse of America The Beautiful. These words say much about the men and women who take upon themselves the honored mantle of the warrior:
“O beautiful for heroes proved in liberating strife
Who more than self their country loved
And mercy, more than life.”