The Book of My Heart

Honors the Greatest Generation (Which Raised Me)

By Jeff Salter

Topic: If you could be remembered (as an author) for only ONE of your books… which book would you choose?

Though I’d forgotten when I suggested this topic, we’ve already covered some aspects of this… and fairly recently, too. In late June we were asked to select ONE of our own titles to be made into a movie. My final selection for that blog is the same as my pick for today’s topic: Called to Arms Again — my tribute to the Greatest Generation.

Bear with me as I share a little background on how I came to realize the importance of honoring the Greatest Generation. Back about 25 years ago, I guess, I sought to replace a few WW2 military items that were lost (never returned) after I loaned them to a friend. In the course of collecting those items – a helmet liner, a pistol belt, a canteen and its pouch, and a first aid pouch – I realized that there were many related pieces of militaria that “fit” with those items and gave them more complete context. One thing led to another and soon I was often on eBay, finding more and more items that piqued my varied interests in military history.

As my militaria collection grew – eventually including some 100 years of items (from the Spanish-American War all the way through Desert Storm) – I realized I had an obligation to SHARE what I’d learned about the gear and uniform pieces of those who’d served our country.

During that period I was an administrator of a sizeable public library system serving Shreveport and Caddo Parish in Louisiana… and our system had a HQ building, 9 full-time branches, and 9 part-time branches. Many of those facilities had nice, lockable display cases that I was able to schedule for exhibits. By the time I’d retired, I’d mounted several displays in the HQ cases, as well as four or five of the branches. Since I retired and moved to KY, I’ve mounted exhibits in the local library at least three or four times.

In the course of installing and removing those displays, I had many interesting contacts with viewers, young and old. One of the most meaningful was a man named Clifton A. Farrar, a sergeant with a howitzer unit (in the 29th Infantry Division) who landed at Normandy shortly after D-Day and fought at St. Lô, among other battles. Farrar saw my exhibit at one of the branches and contacted me, asking me to visit at his home so he could show me some of his own memorabilia. He still had some of the original battle maps and other significant documents that he tried to give me. I couldn’t accept them because I believed they were worth a lot of money (to the right collector). Then he pulled out his WW2 uniform and said he wanted me to have it for my displays. I said I couldn’t accept it, because it should go to his own family.

This is the part that broke my heart. He replied, “Nobody in my family wants them.”

Right then and there, I realized my mission to acquire and display militaria was definitely the proper way to honor those individuals who served and fought, as well as those on the homefront who sacrificed. I accepted his uniform items and told him I’d alert him whenever they’d appear in new displays. Which I did… as long as I remained in that area.

Somewhere along the line, I got to thinking that I should WRITE something that complemented my collection of military items. But I couldn’t figure what to write. I remember telling this to someone in Shreveport, who asked WHAT I might write. “I don’t know,” I replied, “if nothing else, I could collect oral history from these veterans before they pass away.” [At that point, the widely-quoted figure was that WW2 veterans were dying at a rate of 1000 per day. In the nearly 20 years since then, the number of WW2 vets still living has (obviously) dropped drastically.]

A few years passed: I retired, relocated, and began writing fiction. In the back of my mind, I still wanted to write that SOMETHING which would honor the Greatest Generation, whose military items I’d so carefully collected and lovingly displayed for others to appreciate. Finally in around 2007, as you can see in one of the blogs linked below, I got the idea for a story which could include a number of characters from that generation. And to show the world that they were not all washed up… or ready to be forgotten.

Called to Arms Again – after multiple overhauls and drastic cuts of some 55,000 words – was the product of that effort. My goal with that novel, released in mid 2013, was to get it into the hands of every surviving WW2 veteran who was interested. Sadly, my sales have not reached even a tiny fraction of that number… and those vets are dying faster than my promotional efforts can reach them.

There’s a lot more I could say – especially about the MANY characters in my novel who were inspired by real-life individuals I know – but I’ll close this blog here. The generation raised during the Great Depression, who suffered and sacrificed during the Second World War, deserve our appreciation and reverence. This novel was my way of honoring them. And if only one of my published works stands to represent my writing career, let it be Called to Arms Again.

[An excerpt from my 7-2-2021 blog about the novel I’d like to see as a film]:

My selection for screen treatment is my tribute to the greatest generation, Called To Arms Again. This novel is so special to me in so many ways that it’s nearly impossible to condense them into this limited space. Suffice it to say that my characters honor people like my parents, my uncles and aunts, my teachers at school and church, the leaders of my little town (growing up). And some of these many characters were directly inspired by specific individuals from that group. I think viewers would appreciate the humor, would cheer at the action, and would feel the warmth of the noble patriotism and self-reliance of those senior citizens who were called to arms again, six decades after WW2’s sacrifices.

Called to Arms Again is available in E-formats, in paperback, and as an audio book.

http://tinyurl.com/JLS-C2AA

For more information about my tribute to the Greatest Generation, see the following blogs:

[JLS # 557]

About Jeff Salter

Currently writing romantic comedy, screwball comedy, and romantic suspense. Fourteen completed novels and four completed novellas. Working with three royalty publishers: Clean Reads, Dingbat Publishing, & TouchPoint Press/Romance. "Cowboy Out of Time" -- Apr. 2019 /// "Double Down Trouble" -- June 2018 /// "Not Easy Being Android" -- Feb. 2018 /// "Size Matters" -- Oct. 2016 /// "The Duchess of Earl" -- Jul. 2016 /// "Stuck on Cloud Eight" -- Nov. 2015 /// "Pleased to Meet Me" (novella) -- Oct. 2015 /// "One Simple Favor" (novella) -- May 2015 /// "The Ghostess & MISTER Muir" -- Oct. 2014 /// "Scratching the Seven-Month Itch" -- Sept. 2014 /// "Hid Wounded Reb" -- Aug. 2014 /// "Don't Bet On It" (novella) -- April 2014 /// "Curing the Uncommon Man-Cold -- Dec. 2013 /// "Echo Taps" (novella) -- June 2013 /// "Called To Arms Again" -- (a tribute to the greatest generation) -- May 2013 /// "Rescued By That New Guy in Town" -- Oct. 2012 /// "The Overnighter's Secrets" -- May 2012 /// Co-authored two non-fiction books about librarianship (with a royalty publisher), a chapter in another book, and an article in a specialty encyclopedia. Plus several library-related articles and reviews. Also published some 120 poems, about 150 bylined newspaper articles, and some 100 bylined photos. Worked about 30 years in librarianship. Formerly newspaper editor and photo-journalist. Decorated veteran of U.S. Air Force (including a remote ‘tour’ of duty in the Arctic … at Thule AB in N.W. Greenland). Married; father of two; grandfather of six.
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16 Responses to The Book of My Heart

  1. jbrayweber says:

    It is a tragedy that the heroes’ individual stories of the Greatest Generation fade away or are never told. To so many people of today, the wars they fought in are insignificant, which is another tragedy. But then there are people like you who understand and celebrate their importance with sharing and honoring them with your militia memorabilia. That’s pretty special. So it is only fitting you would choose Called to Arms Again as a book to be remembered by. Very good choice.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Jeff Salter says:

      Thanks, Jenn. Before covid, when I was participating in a few author events each year, I’d always place on my table a few items from my military collection. They were attention-grabbers, of course, and often opened conversations with veterans and/or their family members.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Patricia Kiyono says:

    This is the book I would have chosen for you. Writing this tribute story was a labor of love, and it’s a fitting choice. Like you, I’m the designated Keeper of the Artifacts for our family. I have all the Japanese memorabilia, and I had to let go of several things I loved in order to have room for these things that no one else seems to want. It’s up to me to keep the culture of our ancestors alive. The sacrifices made by the Greatest Generation definitely deserve to have their stories told as well.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Jeff Salter says:

      Definitely a labor of love — for each of us. It’s a huge responsibility to accept, to become the caretaker of the family memorabilia. Hopefully, in many families, there are multiple relatives who can share that duty, with each focusing on different aspects. One might have antique furniture, one might have letters and photos, one might have, special clothing or household items. Or… as is often the case, one sibling has to handle EVERYTHING.

      Like

  3. John Babb says:

    And it is indeed a beautiful story.  I loved it!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Looks like Patty and I were right about your choice for this week, Jeff. We know how dedicated you are to keeping the sacrifices made during WWII in people’s minds. I am not sure that the younger generations will ever understand; it seems that only the Holocaust is said to never to be forgotten, but not those who stopped it, nor how much went on at home. (Few even realize how many different people were in the attempted genocide.) The troops, soldiers and airmen then also came home with PTSD. Tines were different then.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Jeff Salter says:

      And PTSD was totally misunderstood at that time. [Even worse during WW1]
      In so many cases, the traumatized soldiers were simply given a week or so of “rest” and then sent right back out to the frontlines. No doubt many were killed since they were not fully functioning.

      Like

  5. Remember to promote this book on the forum today, Alan. I don’t think you ever have. That and your blog here. You can do both because they are different things.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Elaine Cantrell says:

    I can’t think of any generation who deserves to be honored more. Great choice, Jeff.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. In my book, all who fought for our country from the Revolutionary war to the present should be honored equally. It’s a sacrifice whether they die serving or not.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. The stories of the Greatest Generation need to be told and remembered. I have always hated how people in my generation and younger ones seem to mock or completely ignore them. They have so much to teach us, so much for us to learn. I truly enjoyed your book when I read it. I think it was a nice tribute to their generation.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Jeff Salter says:

      Thanks, Angie.
      Yes, the younger generations need to know how the greatest generation sacrificed and struggled through the Depression… and rallied to help defend our nation during WW2.

      Like

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