“Remembering Our Veterans”: Reads for Veterans Day 2023

veterans day

On November 11th, we celebrate the day in 1918 when World War I officially ended at the 11th hour on the 11th day of the 11th month with the signing of the armistice between the Allies and Germany. In the US, we also celebrate it as Veterans Day, in honor of the men and women who have served, who have answered the call of duty to their country, and displayed much heroism and valor in the process. Here are some books available in the Livingston Library collection that will not only remind us of the experiences and sacrifices of our veterans, but also the brutal psychological toll of warfare. Against All Odds : A True Story of Ultimate Courage and Survival in World War II by Alex Kershaw Kershaw tells the untold story of four of the most decorated soldiers of World War II-all Medal of Honor recipients-from the beaches of French Morocco to Hitler’s own mountaintop fortress.  Tapping into personal interviews and a wealth of primary source material, Kershaw has delivered a gripping account of American courage, spanning more than six hundred days of increasingly merciless combat, from the deserts of North Africa to the dark heart of Nazi Germany. All the Ruined Men : Stories by Bill Glose Dramatic, powerful, authentic short stories of soldiers fighting a “forever war,” in combat and back home. Combat takes a different toll on each soldier; so does coming home. Here are linked stories that show veterans struggling for normalcy as they grapple with flashbacks, injuries (both physical and psychological), damaged relationships, loss of faith, and loss of memory. A Bridge in Babylon : Stories of a Military Chaplain in Iraq by Owen Chandler Army chaplain Owen Chandler tells the stories of the men and women serving our country in combat zones around the world — a life few of us know, but thousands of Americans experience every day. As an “embedded presence of hope” Chandler candidly describes the struggle to hold onto faith and hope amid the brutalities of war and the isolation of being deployed. Brothers in Valor : Battlefield Stories of the 89 African Americans Awarded the Medal of Honor by  Robert F. Jefferson Jr. Since the American Civil War, scores of African Americans have served with great distinction. Through thousands of historical accounts, photographs, and documentary evidence, Jefferson introduces the 89 black soldiers who continued forward when all odds were against them. The heroes within these pages faced certain death and definite danger without flinching.  Jefferson paints a vivid portrait of African-American soldiers who carried the flag of freedom and how they reshaped the very definition of courage under fire during some of the most harrowing moments in United States military history. Compassionate Soldier : Remarkable True Stories of Mercy, Heroism, and Honor From the Battlefield by Jerry Borrowman  Arranged by war from the American Revolution to the Iraq War and global in perspective, this book features extraordinary stories of grace under fire from valiant soldiers and noncombatants who rose above the inhumanity of lethal conflict and chose compassion, even knowing their actions could put their lives and liberty at risk. Eleventh Month, Eleventh Day, Eleventh Hour : Armistice Day, 1918, World War I and Its Violent Climax by Joseph E. Persico Persico sets the last day of the war in historic context with a gripping reprise of all that led up to it, from the 1914 assassination of the Austrian archduke, Franz Ferdinand, which ignited the war, to the raw racism black doughboys endured except when ordered to advance and die in the war’s last hour. The final hours pulsate with tension as every man in the trenches hopes to escape the melancholy distinction of being the last to die in World War I. The Allied generals knew the fighting would end precisely at 11:00 A.M, yet in the final hours they flung men against an already beaten Germany. The result? Eleven thousand casualties suffered–more than during the D-Day invasion of Normandy. Why? Allied commanders wanted to punish the enemy to the very last moment and career officers saw a fast-fading chance for glory and promotion. In the Company of Heroes : The Inspiring Stories of Medal of Honor Recipients From America’s Longest Wars in Afghanistan and Iraq by James Kitfield  features in-depth narrative profiles of the twenty-two post-9/11 Medal of Honor recipients who served in Afghanistan and Iraq. This book focuses on the stories of these extraordinary individuals, expressed in their own voices through one-on-one interviews, and in the case of posthumous awards through interviews with their brothers in arms and families. Invisible Storm: a Soldier’s Memoir of Politics and PTSD by Jason Kander From political wunderkind and former army intelligence officer Jason Kander comes a haunting, powerful memoir about politics, PTSD, impossible choices–and how sometimes walking away from the chance of a lifetime can be the greatest decision of all.  A Patriot’s Promise : Protecting My Brothers, Fighting for My Life, and Keeping My Word by Jr. Israel Del Toro An inspiring memoir of promises kept, overcoming obstacles, and what it means to sacrifice for others, written by a Special Warfare Operator with the Air Force. When Israel “DT” Del Toro, Jr.’s Humvee rolled over a roadside IED in Afghanistan, he had one thought as he lost consciousness: I have to keep the promise I made to my dad. DT was orphaned at the age of fourteen, and on the night before his father died, he repeated the promise his dad required: “Take care of your brothers and sisters.” . When DT was injured in action, he lay in a coma for three months with third-degree burns on 80% of his body. He nearly died three times, and doctors predicted – if he survived – he would forever breathe with a respirator and never walk again. DT pushed through every limit to his full recovery, and he became the first 100% disabled veteran to re-enlist in the Air Force. DT’s promise to his dad