This is a blog I wrote last year for the December 7 anniversary of World War II.  With Veterans’ Day coming up tomorrow tomorrow, I wanted to post it here in honor of veterans of all the wars in the past and present.  This is for all the men, women, and families who have given so much for all of us.  A big hug and THANK YOU to everyone who has ever served, and to the wives and families of those veterans.

Driving down one of the busiest streets of Oklahoma City today, I noticed a flag at a local business flying at half-staff.  It was the only one on that block.  I’m sure many people wondered about it.  

But I remembered

December 7, 1941…the day the U.S. was brought into World War II with the bombing of Pearl Harbor by the Japanese. 

Through the years, my mother recounted tales brought home from “over there” by her relatives who enlisted.  She talked also about the rationing here at home—how difficult it was to get needed items, and how impossible it was to get luxuries.  She was 19 when the U.S. entered the war—just the very age of so many of the young men who were killed in the surprise attack on December 7, 1941.  Was there a man of that age who didn’t rush down to sign up for duty after that fateful day?  Many of her fellow students and co-workers did just that, and during the course of the next four years of war, many of them were lost. 

My father tried to sign up, but his lungs were bad.  He was turned away.  I think he was always ashamed of that, because until the day he died, he had one of the most patriotic hearts I’ve ever known.  Secretly, when I was old enough to realize what that might have meant, I was glad that he had not had to go to war.  I knew that would have changed everything in my world. 

Being as close as it was to Christmas made the deaths of the men at Pearl Harbor even more poignant.  Just done with Thanksgiving, looking forward to the Christmas holidays to come, so many young lives snuffed out in the space of minutes. Watching the documentaries, hearing the old soldiers that are left from that time talk about the horror of that day, and of war in general, brings tears to my eyes. 

I’m always amazed by the generations that have gone before us, and how they stood up to face adversity when it was required of them.  Being human,  the unknown was just as frightening to them as it is to us.  We tend to forget it, somehow, because of the luxury and comforts of our modern lives that we have become used to.  We have let ourselves become numb, in a way, and what’s worse—we have forgotten

We have forgotten what the generations before us sacrificed for us, their future.  We have forgotten how to honor the memory of those men and women, and what they did, individually and collectively. 

I counted flagpoles the rest of the way home from that one, lonely half-staff flag—about a mile and a half to my house.  There was only one other pole along that route that flew the flag half-staff in memory of that day sixty-eight years ago.  A day that ended in smoke, and fire, drowning and death…and war. 

Something peculiar occurred to me.  I have been alive during the time when the last surviving widow of a veteran of The War Between The States died.  I have been alive during the time that the last survivor of World War I died.  There are not that many survivors left of World War II, or the Korean Conflict.  Yet, our schools pass over these huge, world-altering events as if they are nothing, devoting a page or less to them in the history texts.  Think of it.  A page or less, to tell of the suffering, the economic impact, the technological discoveries, and the loss of humanity of each of these wars.

No wonder our society has forgotten the price paid by those who laid down their lives!  When we don’t teach our children, and learn from the past, history is bound to repeat itself. 

As a writer, it’s hard for me to write about some conflicts–The War Between the States, especially.  I think it’s because, to me, that was the most tragic of any war we fought–the pitting of brother against brother, father against son.  To think how close we came to being forever divided here in America is frightening.  It seems every line of every battle was etched on President Lincoln’s face during his time as president. 

My husband was a SEAL in the Viet Nam War, and although I have a ready-made reference for all things during that time in him, I’m reluctant to write about it.

What do you all think about writing about soldiers, sailors, any and all veterans of war?  I think that it’s a wonderful way to honor those who fought.  I have some ideas I’d like to get out there, but am still letting them simmer for the time being.

President Franklin Roosevelt declared December 7, 1941 as “a day that will live in infamy.”  That statement, spoken so boldly, believed so strongly, held so close to the hearts of that generation, is only true as long as the next generation, and the one beyond that, remembers.

Well, many years have passed since those brave men are gone

And those cold ocean waters now are still and they’re calm.

Well, many years have passed, but still I wonder why,

The worst of men must fight and the best of men must die.


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A native Oklahoman, I've been influenced by the west all my life. I love to write short stories and novels in the historical western and western romance genres, as well as contemporary romantic suspense! Check my Amazon author page to see my work:
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  1. Excellent. Just excellent. I agree with you that writing about our service men and women and veterans is great. My uncle died in WWII. I have a cousin flying back from Afghanistan who is at the end of his service.

    And then there is the special ops husband of a friend of mine who treats her like a queen and does the laundry!!!

    Everyone, I am going to plug Red Cross’s “Holiday Mail for Heroes” here. Even if you don’t have the talent to write about our service people, you do have the talent to our service folk, veterans and their families a card for Christmas! The deadline is December 10 so you have a month to get those cards done.

    Peace, Julie

  2. I remember the ration books. Every person in the family had heir own book. Each was allowed so much sugar and gas. I don’t remember the other things (I think flour was one). I know you were only allowed so many tires a year and two pairs of shoes each year.

  3. Cheryl,
    Wonderful post. My dad lost an arm and lung in France in WWII. When the 50th anniversary of D-Day came, PBS produced a series on the major battles. I sat and cried through each one since I also had an uncle who survived being a Japanese POW and another who survived the Battle of the Bulge. Survived but marked by their experiences.
    Thanks for remembering.

  4. Julie,
    Thank you so much for plugging Holiday Mail for Heroes! You know, there are at least a couple of other organizations that I know of that actually send books and provide downloads of books for our service people. One is called “Books for Boots” and the other one is “Operation E-book Drop” or something like that–if anyone is interested in contributing, let me know and I’ll get the info on it and post it here. These veterans need all the support we can give them!

  5. Goldie,
    I remember Mom talking about those ration books–the shoes were what she talked about the most, because I guess back then that was a hardship she remembered, being a young woman. I remember she also mentioned sugar and tires. I can’t remember if there was anything else she talked about that you haven’t mentioned here–I think that must have been really hard to try and ration everything like that, but I know most people were glad to do their part. Thanks so much for commenting.

  6. Hi Lyn,
    My hat’s off to your dear dad and all the other vets who served during that terrible war. I had a great uncle who survived the Battle of the Bulge and would never talk about it til the day he died. Seeing that carnage just can’t help but mark someone forever. And no matter what your politics might be, John McCain is a hero in my book for his time spent as a POW in Viet Nam. Anyone who can endure that kind of incarceration and torture is superhuman, I think. Thanks so much for commenting.I would be just like you, crying like crazy over those battles in that documentary. The loss of life there and the wounds suffered by the survivors was just unbelievable.

  7. Thanks, Vicki! We do take so much for granted in this day and age, and I think so much of it starts when kids are little–even in the elementary schools history is just glossed over and anymore, it’s all about cramming MORE info into the kids’ minds so that they can do well on the standardized tests. Such a shame. Glad you enjoyed the post!

  8. You’re right about the Civil War. We think of it as being way back there in history when it really wasn’t that long ago. My Great Grandfather McNeal served in the calvary for the Union Army in the Civil War. My Grandfather, whom I loved, was a post war baby. My father served in the United States Navy in WWII. My best friend and her borther served in Irag and Viet Nam. War effects us all and those we love who serve become all the more dear to us because of their sacrifice. Great blog, Cheryl.

  9. Wonderful post, Cheryl. Thank you for paying tribute to our veterans. I hope everyone will make an effort to thank a veteran for their service tomorrow. My dad, father-in-law and uncle all served in WWII and were forever changed by their experiences.

    Are you familiar with the Honor Flight Network? They provide free trips for veterans to the WWII Veterans Memorial in Washington. They also provide guardians and assistance for those who need it on the trip. They have organized several flights from this area, and it gave some of those veterans a sense of closure at long last, as well as recognition and appreciation for their service. You can find out more at
    (This is not to be confused with the .com sites that charge for their trips.)

  10. CHERYL–Just perfect, so emotional with the deep feelings most of us have concerning our veterans. I was just over one year old on Pearl Harbor. My daddy wasn’t accepted, either,because of life-long asthma. Two brothers went, though,and I remember my Uncle Ed in his heavy wool uniform, looking like Errol Flynn.
    We had ration cards and stamps, but we used few of them–lived in the country and were fairly self-sufficient. Each person got a book a stamps, no matter the age–I still have mine in a box of keepsakes–very yellowed and crackly now. But my name is written at the top–Celia Ann Davis.
    You always seem to know the correct words to say to help us remember. Thank you, dear heart–you’re one in a million. Celia

  11. Sarah,
    That’s amazing about your Great Grandfather! I guess mine would have been one more generation back. Yes, it is amazing to think of it like this–that there are people alive who remember people that were alive during the time of the War Between the States. It really hasn’t been all that long ago, has it? I’m glad you enjoyed the blog!

  12. Judy,
    Many thanks to your relatives who served! And thank you for telling us about the Honor Flight Network! I had no idea it even existed. That is just wonderful. Thanks so much for providing the link as well. I’m glad you told us about this and appreciate your comments so much!

  13. WOW, Celia, what a memory your Uncle Ed created in your mind. I think I still have my mom’s ration book somewhere in all the things we cleaned out of their house. I found her Social Security card the other day when I was going through some things.

    Thank you so much for the kind words, Celia. I appreciate you so much!


  14. Hi Cheryl,
    It seems like just the other day that my brothers were chomping to go to war. 1942 my oldest brother graduated from high school and enlisted. My other brother was so angry he had to wait until he graduated he did so the following January. Both Navy! I was 7. My Uncle became Channel Master at Pearl Harbor on December 10 after the original one was killed on the 7th. A cousin was an Anapolis grad and was a Commander on several Air Craft carriers. I very much remember the ration books. I still have many and the memories. Also had a Great Grandfather who fought on BOTH sides in the Civil War. Don’t know how that happened. But he got disgruntled about one side, got very ill, went home to get well and joined the other side. Great post. Had tears as I read it.

  15. Oh, Mary, what a wealth of memories you have of that time–I think when we are children, things make such a huge impression on us that we never forget those feelings. You have had a LOT of veterans in your family! And that is very interesting about your Great Grandfather who fought on both sides in the Civil War. What at story that would make! Thanks so much for your comments. I’m glad the post moved you so much.

  16. Beautiful post, Cheryl. My dad was a Navy gunnery officer in WWII. He volunteered after Pearl Harbor. I wasn’t much more than a baby when he left, but I remember him being gone and my mother reading his letters to me. Happily, he came home to live a long life.

  17. Such a touching blog. We live at such a hectic pace that it’s often easy to forget the ones who’ve given their lives for us. I never want to forget their deep sacrifice. Thanks for reminding me that freedom comes with a price.

  18. I am amazed how little of the past is studied in school. I wonder what they are spending their time studying. Yes, much has happened in the past 50+ years, but nothing as important to this country as the impact these wars had on our nation and its people. Recent decisions by some states to “crop” what they teach is rather frightening. Not starting American History until after the Civil War and basically removing Thomas Jefferson and others from the picture are odd and frightening. We need to know the what, who, and why that made this country what it is today.

    My father served in the Navy on a communications ship during WWII. I knew he was a radio operator, but it wasn’t until just a few months ago that I found out he was a decoder. He was working the word scramble and a decipher in the newspaper and said it wasn’t that hard, explaining to me how to break a code. He then said “Well, that is what I did in the Navy.” 63 years and I had it wrong. He talked of his experiences, but never got specific. I would love to know more, but we live so far apart. Most of my uncles served, but none spoke of it often. It was just something you did and was expected.

    For many of our veterans, their war experience is something they would rather put behind them. Not that they are ashamed, but it brings back too many painful memories. I look at the treatment of the military and their families during Vietnam. It is sad to remember that you had to hide or downplay that fact to keep from being harassed. My husband was a B-52 radar navigator during that time. We spent more time apart than together the first few years we were married, but I am so thankful he was not involved in ground combat. That is so much more difficult to deal with. I am glad to see there is more understanding and support for the troops and their families today. It makes it much easier to deal with the uncertainties and difficulties of being a single parent for extended periods and the constant worry that your spouse will not be coming home the person they were or at all. The care packages and cards sent to soldiers in the field is a nice reminder to them that they are not forgotten and are appreciated.

    We as a nation have not had a conflict on our shores since the Civil War and really do not have any idea how devastating war is on a country and people. I remember getting a new classmate in 5th grade. His family had just fled to the US from the conflict in Hungary. He could speak little english and spent his days drawing pictures of tanks, fires , and dead & wounded in the streets. I am so thankful my children never had to experience that. We have it pretty easy here in spite of the current economic problems. I think that is one thing that makes it so difficult on the soldiers when they see the conditions people are subjected to overseas. It is hard for them to understand the mindset of those they are dealing with. The other part is we, as a country, are not under threat as we were during WWI and WWII. There is a difference in purpose and meaning that makes it more difficult for the soldier. All the more reason to appreciate the sacrifice they are making.
    (Sorry I got so long winded.)

    Thank you for an excellent post. I have printed it out so my husband can share it at work. To many Veteran’s Day has become a day for sales and a day off from work. They need to be reminded why the day is celebrated and give thanks to those who gave their service and their lives to make this life we enjoy possible.

  19. Hi Elizabeth,
    Thank goodness your dad came back to you! I know that had to be hard on your mom. I remember when my uncle went to Viet Nam and my aunt’s mantra was “YOU JUST WAIT UNTIL YOUR DAD GETS HOME!” LOL They had 4 kids and it was all she could do to manage while he was away. Thanks so much for your comments, Elizabeth.

  20. Hi Linda,
    You are welcome–I’m so glad to pass the word when I can, and honor those servicemen and women who have answered duty’s call. Again, a big thanks to the families of those people as well. It’s a sacrifice for everyone in the family. I think you are so right, Linda, that we do live at this hectic pace and don’t have time for reflection and deeper learning and thoughts about things of this nature.

  21. Patricia,
    What thoughtful, insightful comments. I always love to read your comments, because you always give an in-depth response that indicates your deep interest. You are so right on every point. I did a LOT of extra things with my kids when they were in school to make them aware of history. One of the easy ways was through music, and it wasn’t until I’d been doing it that I realized the benefits of it. A lot of those old Johnny Horton songs, and Marty Robbins songs, etc. contain history lessons in brief. They provide the opening for questions. We had cds of those songs in the car that we’d play on trips, etc. and the kids would ask questions about the events–The Ballad of the Alamo by Marty Robbins, and “Sink the Bismark” by Johnny Horton, etc. were the tip of the iceberg. LOL The schools have come to the point where they ONLY care about testing scores in most areas, and any kind of extra enrichment or deeper study is just not provided. When my kids were in 7th grade they both had the same teacher (3 years apart) for “science” class. One of the thing they spent a huge amount of time on was the Iditarod. This is something that could be studied VERY briefly in my opinion, but they spent weeks on it. Ridiculous.

    Give your husband a big hug and thank you from me. I know what you’re talking about with the Viet Nam era veterans. My husband is one. He’s a bit older than I am so he’d already served and come home and gotten out of the Navy before I ever met him.

    That’s VERY interesting about your dad, too. Seems like one thing that most combat veterans have in common is that they don’t talk about their experiences, except with others who were there and know what it’s like.

    Yes, we certainly have been very very lucky as a country. The War Between the States left such deep scars that are still healing over a hundred years later. I hope we never have to experience our country being war-torn again.

    Thanks so much Patricia, for your comments. I’m proud that you printed this post for your husband to take to work. I hope there are other vets there who know that they are appreciated, too.

  22. God bless all our veterans, past, present, and future. I am daughter, wife, niece and and sister of veterans. I have been to Pearl Harbor a number of times. It is truly a shrine.

    Great post, Cheryl. oxoxxo

  23. I was touched by your stirring words, Cheryl. Patriotism shouldn’t be locked away for special days. It should be a guidepost we carry with us throughout each and every day. I’m proud of those in my family who’ve served their country, including my daugther who is currently in the Army.


  24. Tanya, that is one place I would like to go, for sure. I imagine it is one of the most somber places on earth, and I would love to go there and just pay my respects to those who died. Thanks for your comment–my hat’s off to your family! You’ve got a lot of veterans to be proud of!

  25. Thank you, Maggie. I soooo agree. Patriotism whould be with us every day. I remember how it was just after 9/11 and everywhere you looked there were flags–not so much any more. Give your daughter a hug for me and please tell her THANK YOU!

  26. My father served in War World II. He was in his 30’s and an only child and sole care giver of his mother and didn’t have to serve but there was no question of that. I do think for the longest time that was the last war that people truly appreciated the soldiers. I do believe it’s getting back to that but those that came in between never got the honor due them. My husband was in the Viet Nam war as a Sea Bee and worked along side two Seal teams – they scared him to death lol.

  27. Wonderful remembrance post, Cheryl. During WWII my dad had “flat feet” so he was considered 4F. Had the war gone on longer, he may have been called. Two of his brothers served, one on Guadalcanal. When Luzon came home, (yes, he was named for the island in the South Pacific), he used to re-fight battles in his sleep. He woke me up yelling.

    My guy served during the Korean war, and many of my relatives served in all three, I, II, and Korea. Now we are forced to send America’s best into harm’s way again. I am so glad the American public is honoring our service men and women now, even though many are so against the war that never seems to end. These valiant people step up generation after generation, and thank God for each and every one. May He walk with them every day.

  28. Cheryl, what a wonderful tribute to our veterans. Patriotism is an inherent feeling that everyone should teach to his kids. I travel a lot, but every time I return home, I say, God Bless America. No other country can compare and no other people have shown as much generosity as our countrymen.

  29. Hi Catslady,
    I believe you are right about WWII being the war that last honored its soldiers as was fitting. Seems all the wars since then just haven’t seen that type of honor and respect that is due service people being given as it should. I don’t know why, but it could be that it really is true that that was THE GREATEST GENERATION. Had to laugh about your husband–I imagine that SEAL teams WOULD scare you! LOL Thanks so much for commenting.

  30. Hi Joyce,
    When Gary and I first got married those nightmares were a ritual with us. I tell you, war does some horrible things to a person. But the years have passed and though the memories are still with him, the nightmares are all gone. So sad to see these young men and women sent over there to foreign countries to wars that, as you say, never seem to end. I respect everyone who answers the call of duty. May God bless them all.

  31. Mona,
    I bet you really have a great perspective since you do travel so much, as to what a wonderful country we really are a part of. I think every high school student should have to read that story, “THE MAN WITHOUT A COUNTRY”–I think it was written by James F. Cooper’s uncle or something–I’d have to look it up–but we had to read it in high school and I have never ever forgotten that. What a great story. Thanks so much for your comments.

  32. Great post, Cheryl. Nov 11th is Remembrance Day up here in Canada and so there’s no school tomorrow. I never seem to hear about the US equivalent on this day, so I assumed that’s what your Memorial Day was all about.

    I never went overseas during my 20 yr stint in the Cdn Armed Forces, so I find it hard to call myself a veteran. Sure I did the weapons training and biological/chemical/warfare training in the gas hut every couple years, but the only ‘action’ I saw was my subordinates running when I yelled. 😀

    I love reading books about military members from both sides of the border. Especially ones with both members in the service because I can really relate to those.

  33. Anita Mae, I have to tell you that my niece is also named Anita Mae! She spells it the same way you do too.

    Sadly they don’t turn school out any more here for Veterans’ Day. Another small slip of the respect that should be happening. Memorial Day here (in May) started out as a remembrance of the war dead, but now has turned, for the most part, into remembering the dead, period. Veterans’ Day is for honoring all veterans, fallen or still with us.

    I’m ratcheting up my courage to try to write something involving a veteran. One of these days…LOL

    I am very remiss–I should have LONG AGO thanked the veterans from our allied countries as well for their service–Canada, the UK, Australia, and so many more that I won’t try to name–Thanks to all veterans who have fought for the “good” and common goals of democracy and freedom everywhere in the world. And Anita Mae, I would consider you a veteran!

    Thanks so much for your comments!

  34. As an Army Brat this really spoke to my heart because I have felt personally the sacrifice of service men and their families. My father was a Master Sergeant, who helped with supplies being air lifted to Berlin in 1961 when the Berlin Wall went up…it’s amazing to think it came down in our lifetime (1989), yet my niece has yet to study it in history and she is a high school senior.

  35. there’s a program called Operation eBook Drop where authors can send coupons for free books on Smashwords to the troops. I sent coupons for all 5 of my indie books (good until 12/2012), and even got a personalized email back from a woman soldier who likes reading romances. It made my whole day!

    Hi Julie,
    This is a link I copied and pasted out of another e-mail from another participant–also the kindle link that I didn’t know about until today. So maybe we can all unite and get kindles in the hands of these service men and women along with Operation eBook Drop. I will try to check and see if I can find the link for Books for Boots–maybe we can google it and find it.
    Here’s the link for Operation eBook Drop: . There is also a Pepsi site to vote to give Kindles to the troops (here: where you can vote every day this month to try to win to give some of our troops ways to read.
    Gotta go check this one out–I haven’t been over there yet.

  36. YIKES! I tried to copy and paste the addresses from another e-mail and it copied more than I meant for it to! Here’s what I meant to say, please disregard the other one if it comes through.

    Hi Julie,
    This is a link I copied and pasted out of another e-mail from another participant–also the kindle link that I didn’t know about until today. So maybe we can all unite and get kindles in the hands of these service men and women along with Operation eBook Drop. I will try to check and see if I can find the link for Books for Boots–maybe we can google it and find it.
    Here’s the link for Operation eBook Drop: . There is also a Pepsi site to vote to give Kindles to the troops (here: where you can vote every day this month to try to win to give some of our troops ways to read.
    Gotta go check this one out–I haven’t been over there yet.

  37. Mary,
    Give Pa a big old hug from me and tell him THANK YOU! I know your entire family made many sacrifices. It’s so sad that K hasn’t learned about the Berlin wall–maybe she’ll get it in college–it’s the state of affairs in public school all over our country. I don’t understand it. And I saw on the news last night that there is a local district here that has done away with textbooks completely–they have to have a computer and use it instead. Hard to believe.
    I’m so glad you came over and left a comment!

  38. Julie,
    I tried to post the links for a couple of sites and both the comments are “awaiting moderation”–one of them, the first one, I copied and pasted the links from another e-mail to and it copied more of the e-mail than I meant for it to, so just disregard that above portion if it comes through. So sorry.

  39. Cheryl, beautiful post. My Nanowrimo novel this year is delving within Army life, grabbing memories from my 16 years as an Army spouse. I didn’t plan it that way, but that’s what’s coming out.

    My last one was a tribute to my military great uncles who fought in WW2, and to those who stay home and support them.

    I think it’s a wonderful thing to novel about the military, but only if you know well enough what the military really is. I know you do, but I don’t believe it should be used as a tool without real substance or actual basis.

    I haven’t forgotten.

  40. My father was away in WW2 when I was born. Still have the letters he sent back to Mom. They really say a LOT now that I understand why he was there and what all of these people have sacrificed to keep us free today. Hats off to all the military!
    Glad there is a way to keep our thanks alive in today’s world.

  41. Cheryl,
    What a poignant and moving piece. I remember my grandfather mentioning the war. I knew he was a World War II vet and proud of it. My Uncle Harold went to World War II. My father was in the Navy in 1966. It’s important to remember and respect the sacrifices of our loved ones for our freedom. I’m proud to be a vet and support our Armed Services today.


  42. LK,
    Thanks so much for taking time from your busy schedule to stop by and respond. I appreciate that so much, and you are absolutely right about “knowing” the subject before you write about it–i.e., military life. If I attempted it, I would have to write about the aftermath of war and how it affected the veteran–I do know about that–but oddly, I don’t know much about military life because Gary was in the military before I knew him.

    I think it’s great that you are incorporating that into your NANO this year!


  43. Jan,
    Amen to that! I am too! And how wonderful that you have the treasure of your dad’s letters to your mom to go back and read. That is really great! Thanks for popping over and reading and commenting! I appreciate you.


  44. Steph,
    WOW, you come from a family of vets, don’t you? Let me take this opportunity to thank you, too, for your service. You are so right when you talk about the importance of remembering the sacrifices our veterans have made. I wholeheartedly agree!


  45. Late to the party, as always 🙂 Beautiful post, Cheryl. There’s nothing I can say that hasn’t already been said. Thank you, and thank your husband for his service to our country. So often we forget about the wives and children, and what they go through.

  46. Hi Liana!

    Better late than never–which is ME lately! LOL Thank you so much for taking time out of your schedule to come by and read and comment, Liana. You are right–we do forget the families of our service people. I’m so glad you enjoyed the post and believe me, I will tell Gary you said thank you–it still means a lot after all these years.


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