By Jeff Salter
This week, we have a free space, which gives me a terrific opportunity to promote my newest release: Echo Taps. This is a short companion piece to my recent full-length novel, Called to Arms Again, which is my tribute to the greatest generation.
Echo Taps is partly a series of flashbacks which Kelly Randall experiences in the days leading up to the pivotal scenes of the full-length novel. In these flashbacks, she recalls several touching scenes with her elderly Uncle Edgar in the few years she knew him before his death. [In many ways, he was a full generation older than a typical uncle would have been, because Kelly’s mom was nearly a generation younger than her siblings.]
A part-time newspaper reporter, Kelly has to write a 12-page special section for Veterans Day and her main focus is on the veterans from the greatest generation who are dying at a rate of nearly 1000 per day. The key to her understanding of what military individuals experienced during World War II lies partly in her grasp of her uncle’s own involvement on the Day of Infamy — Edgar was stationed at Hickam Field, near Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941.
I have a very personal investment in this story and its main character. My wife’s Uncle Gene Williams was, in real-life, at Hickam Field during the Pearl Harbor attack. As a child growing up, my wife had always heard that her Uncle Gene “was blown out of his boots running to the chow hall.”
It was only as a mature adult that she first learned the true version of what her uncle experienced that day … and an understanding of why he did what he did.
Most of the Greatest Generation didn’t discuss their own war heroism. Her beloved elderly uncle died before he could explain why.
Kelly has just begun interviews for her special newspaper section in honor of upcoming Veterans Day, but she struggles to understand some of the larger issues of the war experience. Her boyfriend Mitch has a few insights, but he was never in combat.
Out of the blue, Kelly begins having flashbacks to heart-warming experiences with her beloved Uncle Edgar, a World War II veteran of the Pearl Harbor attack… but he’s been dead almost twenty years. Kelly also believes she’s hearing messages from her deceased Aunt Mildred, who took her in after Kelly’s parents died.
Kelly is aware that siblings Mildred and Edgar (very close in age) were rumored to have had a nearly telepathic connection with each other, and she knows her mother (born considerably later than Kelly’s aunt and uncle) had some extra-sensory perception. But did Kelly inherit any of those special senses?
Are Uncle Edgar and Aunt Mildred truly reaching back from beyond to help Kelly understand these complex issues? Or is Kelly just now remembering things long forgotten?
Why did Uncle Edgar tell the young family members such a different version of his actual experiences on December 7, 1941?
Will Kelly’s key interview with the American Legion Post commander just confuse her more… or help pull all these threads together?
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