VOICE OF A SOLDIER to have Memorial Day premiere
Thursday, April 27, 2006 7:11:00 AM
by Barbara J. Baldwin
|"Voice of a Soldier" is a wonderful collection of true stories, fiction and poetry that represent the acts of bravery, tears, laughter, love and friendship of American soldiers from past battles to present battles. -- Sunpiper Media, publisher
VOICE OF A SOLDIER
An Anthology of Heroism
retail price $15.99
Available by Memorial Day 2006
I am fortunate enough to be one of the authors in this great anthology. My story, titled "An American Flyer" is about my dad, a 23-year military veteran, at the time he flew in the Berlin Airlift. Here is an excerpt--
I'm looking for a story. Temporarily stuck in a small, Midwest town as I follow the 1996 presidential campaign hopefuls, I need something to do between a pancake breakfast and Kiwanian lunch. This is my second loop around the town square, peering into shop windows, wondering if I should buy the postcards portraying pigs in sunglasses. The girls back in the office would really think I had lost it then.
Although an avid political reporter, I could use a personal interest story. I turn down a block of neatly trimmed lawns and carefully kept homes. I sigh. I kick a stone down the sidewalk. Just when I begin to think a nap would be more productive, I find what I'm looking for.
In one corner of a bay window is a newspaper cutout of the American flag. Beneath it are the words "Proud to be an American". In an age of flag burning and questioning of the American government, this symbol really stands out. Even in a nice suburban town straight out of the sixties.
I jaywalk toward a man sitting in a lawn chair. His feet are kicked out in front, his fingers laced together across his generous middle. The Pioneer Seed cap he's wearing blocks my view of his face.
"Excuse me?" I tilt my head to the side and take another cautious step forward.
"I see you." He tips the cap back and I gaze into the clearest, bluest eyes I've ever seen. Black hair, graying at the temples, and skin so baked by the sun it looks like dried leather make it hard to determine his age.
"The flag in your window." I nod my head in that direction as I speak. "Care to tell me about it?"
He squints his eyes as he looks me up and down. "You must be one of those reporters; here to cover all the election stuff."
"As a matter of fact, I am, but that's not why I stopped."
"Good, because I wouldn't vote for that no good so and so. After all, he went to a foreign country and protested our being in Vietnam and what do we do – elect him president. What damn right does he have to run our country when he did that?"
"Why the flag, then? Were you in the military?"
He shifts a little straighter in his chair. "Lt. Col. Carol D. Norris, USAF, Retired."
"OK, if you don't want to talk politics, tell me about your years in the Air Force."
He doesn't appear at all comfortable talking about himself.
"Do you have any newspaper clippings of that time?" I ask for newspapers because often, through the shadows of time, a person's memory of particular happenings gets out of proportion.
"You'll have to ask Mitzi. She was the letter writer all those years. Knock on the door; she'll tell you."
Mitzi smiles and invites me inside, happy to tell me about her husband of fifty years. She shows me a desk against one wall of the dining room. Buried in the back corner of one drawer are numerous yellowed clippings. Historical documents, originally sent home by a proud wife, reprinted in the local paper by an equally proud mother.
Perhaps here I could find the source of his courage-- the reasons behind his stalwart belief in America. I read and discard, until I find that particular article that shows the beginning, but perhaps not the end, of what makes an American.
"Lt. Carol D. Norris, son of Mrs. Lillian Norris, has received a citation for the Air Medal. As pilot of transport-type aircraft, he successfully completed over 100 missions from bases in Germany to land-blockaded Berlin in connection with Airlift, Operation 'Vittles.'
The citation reads: 'Confronted with a difficult schedule, restricted to flying precise time, often under adverse weather conditions, this officer's efforts resulted in the delivery of many hundreds of tons of food and supplies essential to the lives of 2,500,000 people. His determination and skill in the performance of hazardous duty reflect the highest credit upon him and the United States Air Force.'”
Voice of a Soldier: Operation Liberty
Barbara J. Baldwin