War Bonds

My Veterans

dad-at-the-playground

That’s my dad in his airman’s uniform just hanging around in the mid 1950’s, long before I was born.

He joined the Air Force in the waning days of WWll and shook the dust of Luxora, Arkansas, off his feet, returning only briefly before being summoned back to duty by the advent of the Korean War.

I was born at Fairchild Air Force Base and by the time I was 5 had lived on Guam and in California before Dad decided to retire back in Spokane, Washington. I learned to stand at attention and salute the flag before I could walk.

Dad was proud of his two-plus decades of Air Force service. His love of God and country anchored our family and his passing in 1994 left a void in my heart that cannot be filled.

daddy

So, of course I fell in love with a man in uniform!

fly-boy

I met my husband just after he graduated from flight school. He served in the Washington Army National Guard for 23 years– most of our married life. He’s duties took him to Panama and to Honduras, but he loved flying and mentoring other young pilots.

dereks-legion-of-merit

My love for my father and for my husband gave me deep empathy and added insight when I begin to tell the stories of WWll soldiers, sailors, pilots and corpsmen.

I understood duty, courage, leadership and self-sacrifice because I’ve lived with it all my life.

Today I honor my father, Tom Burnett and my husband, Derek Hval.

Of all the veterans I’ve met, these are the two I love the most and their stories have made my own story so much richer.

Happy Veteran’s Day.

Columns, War Bonds

War not a word to be take lightly… especially today

Today is Veteran’s Day. Tomorrow’s Front Porch column is already available online at the Spokesman Review, so I thought I would share it here as well.

I am heartily sick of the so-called “war on Christmas.”  Read below to find out why.

Words matter to me.

I make my living crafting them. Whether writing a column, a news story or a book, I spend my days weighing and measuring them – searching for the best turn of phrase to communicate a thought, an idea or a fact.

Sometimes I play with them. Juggling them, nudging them to create content that elicits a reaction, a smile or a tear.

Even when handled lightly, I understand their power on a printed page. And while not all words are meant to be taken literally, I think some should be.

War is one of them.

Yesterday was Veterans Day – a day we as country set aside to honor the men and women who have served or continue to serve in our armed forces.

I’ve lost count of the veterans I’ve interviewed over the years, but their faces and their stories are seared into my soul – especially the stories of combat veterans, those who faced loss of life and limb during their time of service.

I’ve lost count of the veterans I’ve interviewed over the years, but their faces and their stories are seared into my soul – especially the stories of combat veterans, those who faced loss of life and limb during their time of service.

So just to be clear, here’s Webster’s definition of war: A state of usually open and declared armed hostile conflict between states or nations or a period of such armed conflict.

Other definitions may have made their way into our reference books and cultural consciousness, but the original meaning of war is armed conflict.

The kind of conflict Wes Hixon faced in 2008 in Iraq when the Stryker vehicle he was riding in hit an IED. “Four people were killed outright,” he said. “The rest were injured. Me and another soldier were paralyzed. Most of them were pretty good friends of mine.”

I interviewed Hixon, then 24, in 2009 as he sat in a wheelchair. He knows what war is.

Read full column here.

War Bonds

Never Forget

Wayne said, “We followed a lot of fighting as we went up the island. The Japanese were still strafing Kadena.”
But he did as he’d been taught and laid face down in a bunker when under fire. He didn’t lose any of his wire team. “We lucked out,” he said. “The other part of the company lost a couple guys.”

He grew quiet and glanced out his living room window. “Some parts you don’t remember– some parts will be in your mind forever.” ~ Wayne Best.

From chapter five of War Bonds. Thank you to our veterans. May we never forget.