Poland saw unspeakable hardship during WWII. My family traveled to Krakowseveral years ago and was delighted by the beautiful, historic town we discovered. Because my children were still too young, we didn’t tour the historic Jewish ghetto, and didn’t see Oskar Schindler’s factory. My heart still broke as I realized the horrific events that transpired to such a peaceful people, on such pristine ground, not only in the city but in further parts of Poland like Auschwitz. I will travel back there one day and pay my honor and respect to those who gave all during WWII.
Geri's Take on...
Where Geri's insights on life, love and living may provide a clue as to how a U.S. Naval Academy graduate became a romance author. She's lived it, now she writes it.
History can feel so out of reach when it’s presented as a paragraph in a textbook, as it was when I studied World History in Middle and High School. I didn’t grasp the richness of it until I was able to live and travel in areas that had seen things I’d only ever read about. The Blitz, for example. What the people of Britain endured is unbelievable when I look at the tranquil photo I took several years ago. And yet, if not for their steadfastness and bravery, the outcome of WWII may have been much different.
Monday will be only the second Veteran’s Day in thirty-one years that I haven’t either been in uniform or married to a man in uniform. And it’s only over the past two years since dh (dear hubby!) retired from the Navy that I’ve been able to take a step back and appreciate what a gift it was to serve our great nation. From my first day of Plebe Summer on a hot July day in 1982 until our small, intimate retirement ceremony for Steve at The Army War College in Carlisle, PA (yes, my navy guy served his last year at an army post), it’s all been a gift.
It didn’t always feel like a gift, a blessing. As much as I always wanted to serve my country since at least high school if not earlier, following one’s dreams comes at a price. I didn’t have college summers to get a “real” job and play during off-hours. When dh and I married three days after my graduation (did we really do that, that young?) we had a month or so together until we faced months, possibly years of separation. Fortunately the navy was always good to us as far as co-location is concerned. Because of my active-duty training and deployment schedules, it was my experience that a lot of my emotional maturation took a back seat until I was in a more “regular” environment, the Naval Post Graduate School. Besides earning another degree courtesy of the navy, I was able to make life-long friends and take a hard look at my life–what did I want out of it?
For me the answer was clear: I wanted to have a family and write. I was lucky–I was able to keep serving our country as a navy spouse, since dh had found his calling (let’s just say he knew he wanted to Fly Navy since he was three years old) while having our babies and pursuing my writing career.
When the time was right I resigned my commission and became the “stability” factor for our family, most importantly, our children. Scary thought, right? Yet I had as much fun as they did. When Dad was off on deployment, meals became simpler as did our routine. It was the only way to maintain the energy level needed to raise two active kiddos while Dad was away. I was always grateful I was able to be home with the kids, writing in the wee hours of the morning or late at night after they were asleep. I lived one dream–having a family–while going after another–being a published author.
Again, it wasn’t always easy to be thankful. DH was deployed on 9-11, and I’ll never forget our first phone conversation and having to confirm that yes, he’d heard right, we’d lost friends. During the war dh was interviewed on CNN in-flight, and I learned to hold my breath and pray at the same time. Explaining war to young children–can anyone?
The best part of being a navy family was of course the wonderful places we lived, and the incredible people we’ve met. Our last tour in Moscow, Russia, we met many public officials and even celebrities. And yes, we really did meet the President of the United States. I blogged about it, have photos of it, and still people ask me if it really happened. Or maybe that’s my elementary-girl self asking if it really happened. What all of it has done has allowed my children to be informed, globally-oriented kids who will make a much larger impression in their world than I ever have. This was all made possible because dh continued to serve his country.
This Veterans Day I am so grateful for those who serve, who have served, and for the small contribution I’ve been able to make.
Leave a comment by November 11 and be entered to win a copy of Navy Orders or Navy Rules–your choice! I’ll pick one winner at random. (North America only. I’m sorry to my dear international friends but postage costs and different mailing systems make overseas mailings cost prohibitive).
When I hear “Home Front” and “World War II” together I think of the U.S. and how American women rallied to fill in for the men who were sent overseas to the Pacific and Europe to fight. The home front existed in every nation at war.
Esmee, my heroine in A Rendezvous to Remember worked with Belgian Resistance, but most home front jobs weren’t so glamorous. My hometown of Buffalo, New York, strengthened the war effort with many factories to include Curtiss Wright as I mentioned in last week’s blog. Regular, everyday Americans fought the good fight.
The photo was taken decades later, in the Westinghouse Factory in Buffalo. My grandmother was fashionable while being a great worker! I’m so proud of her, my family, and my hometown. We’ve all made a difference.
It’s hard to believe it’s November 1st. This was my grandfathers’s birthday, and is always a special day for me. All Saint’s Day is always November 1st, the day after Halloween.
When our family was stationed in Italy with the Navy we were able to see every single church and legal holiday celebrated as if it were the only holiday ever. I love November 1st because it heralds the beginning of the holiday season, and another chance for me to step back and plan so that I actually enjoy the holidays and not rush through them. My wish for you is that you, too, get a chance to catch your breathe and remember to slow down when you can throughout the next couple of months!
Thank you from the bottom of my heart for your overwhelming response to my first-ever published novel, A RENDEZVOUS TO REMEMBER. It’s back in print for a limited run and this new print edition is available only at my publishers website. It’s still available digitally at all the usual places, too, including Amazon and Barnes and Noble.
I am so grateful to the Harlequin Art Department for the beautiful new cover!
As a special treat I’m opening up the availability of my signed bookplates (sticker) to you if you live in North America (sorry internationals)! Write to me via my website, Facebook or Twitter (direct message) by November 15th and I’ll send you the address where you can send a stamped, self-addressed envelope in which I’ll send out a signed bookplate for you to put in your new “vintage cover” copy of A RENDEZVOUS TO REMEMBER. I know I love to have the complete collection of my favorite stories, and for all of you who’ve asked how you can get a copy of my previous novels, this is your chance for this first book! Please don’t delay–the print run is limited and once the books are sold out, there’s nothing I can do to get you more copies.
Since November is the month of Gratitude here in the U.S. with our Thanksgiving holiday, I want to take a moment to express my gratitude for great writing friends like Linda Cardillo and Ann DeFee. Both are wonderful writers and I’m blessed to call them my friends. We’ve been with each other from the start of our paths to publication and I wouldn’t pick anyone else to take the roller coaster ride with. Yes, it’s a ride, indeed–often the kind with upside-down loops. At times, I’ve felt as though I’m not wearing a seatbelt! But Ann and Linda keep me buckled in and remind me of what’s important in our writing journey.
Speaking of gratitude, there is no greater sacrifice than to give one’s life in service to our nation. For this reason I’ve donated the name of one of my characters in NAVY CHRISTMAS (November 2014, Harlequin Superromance) to the winner of the POW-MIA Families Raffle. For only $1 you can purchase a chance to be a literary character! More details are at the POW-MIA Families website. Much thanks to POW-MIA families for the privilege of serving with them in this great cause.
You’ll see more and more World War II history tidbits on my site, especially on my WWII Wednesday blog. I’m in the midst of writing a WWII subplot for NAVY CHRISTMAS and with the re-release of RENDEZVOUS it’s always on my mind. We owe much to this great generation.
It wouldn’t be November without a Thanksgiving recipe–here’s my quickie Roasted Brussels Sprouts that my family always asks for (really!).
Geri’s Roasted Brussels Sprouts
Brussels Sprouts, olive oil, kosher or sea salt, fresh ground pepper. Toss all ingredients together after you’ve halved the sprouts. Use as much oil as needed to make the sprouts glisten with Thanksgiving gratitude. A sprinkle of salt, a dash of pepper. Sometimes I mix in Turkey bacon that I’ve cooked up ahead of time. Spread it on a jelly roll pan or even better, a stone pan or enameled bakeware. Roast it all at at 375 or 400–depends on how long until the gravy is done for the turkey (real or tofu, your choice). When the sprouts start to brown, pull the tray out!
Please note: I’m a decent baker, not quite as good a cook. Can you tell?
Much Gratitude and Love to you and yours as we step into the holidays for 2013. Please take a moment to remember those who can’t be with their families for whatever reasons, and spread your joy wherever you go.
We’re still close enough to WWII in years that I have memories of my grandparents talking about how they survived the war on the home front .
A memory that sticks with me is of my Great Uncle Hank, my grandmother’s brother, who was late to work on the day there was a horrible plane crash– a P-40 crashed into the Curtiss aircraft factory where my Uncle worked. Uncle Hank lived to tell the story, but many didn’t. There’s a good article on it here if you’re interested in the facts. I often mention how proud I am to be a Buffalo native, and this tangible tie to WWII, its heroes and heroines and the immeasurable sacrifice of the Home Front during WWII highlights why.
Do you have WWII memories passed down in your family? Please share them–we need to keep their stories alive.
When war hits, a nation learns to adapt and throw every resource possible into the fight. In WWII women knit socks, sweaters and more for their soldiers.
For the War in Afghanistan and Iraq, I know of several groups and friends who have knit helmet liners for our troops. I’m an avid knitter and it’s so easy to get caught up in the luxuries of my craft–beautiful hybrid fibers dyed in magnificent colors. Yet when a soldier’s life is on the line, it’s the simple, tried-and-true items that count. Socks, a cap, gloves.
If you visit London it’s hard to imagine the sky filled with WWII aircraft. Today’s weapons systems and detection equipment make the Battle of Britain seem as though it were a millennia ago instead of less than a century. This is why it’s so important to accurately preserve the historical events, and when possible, the actual military platforms that made Allied victory a reality. One of our family’s favorite trips was to the many different museums in London. In the photo you can see a Spitfire, with Steve in the photo to give an idea of scale.
WWII was fraught with bombings as evidenced by the massive destruction in major cities across the continent and of course, in London.
When we lived in Moscow I had the opportunity to use the Metro daily. Each quick trip to a market or museum was steeped in WWII history, as the Moscow Metro was used as a bomb shelter during WWII.
It isn’t hard to imagine masses of people huddled in these tunnels, hoping they’d survive, that their homes would still be there when they crawled out.
This fearsome bomber has the ability to spark the imagination of the most history-adverse student. Featured in the movie The Memphis Belle, the B-17 is remembered and honored not as much for its power and bombing missions over German territory during WWII, but for the unparalleled heroism of its crew. It was an easy choice for the WWII aircraft that I featured in NAVY RULES during a present-day air show. It was tough to write the emergency landing scene–even in fiction I didn’t want to harm this iconic warbird!