B Day is almost here! That's book day ... my book. I'm standing by the door nervously awaiting the arrival of my newest book, "Final Tributes - Incredible Ways Americans Are Remembering Our Fallen Troops".
After a few glitches with my previous printer, and switching to another printer, I'm praying the books arrive in time for my book launch and author signing at the Fox Valley Winery this coming Saturday, December 1st. The event is free and open to the public. Everyone is invited. From 3-6 p.m. people will be able to meet, mingle, have complimentary refreshments and hear a short presentation beginning at 4:15 p.m.
It's been a long haul, but it's now time to take off my writing hat and put on my marketing hat to start getting the word out. I hope to begin that task with this first event. But, what are my goals? Well, here is my mission: To see to it that the family of each and every fallen soldier from the Iraq and Afghanistan wars receives a free copy of the book. Why? Because I've included the names of every fallen hero from October 2001 through August 2012. (I will keep updating that list as new names continue to be added). The format looks like this:
Toner, Andrew R. 24 Jacksonville, IL
Aug. 24, 2011 Army Sergeant Small arms fire
I've given the name, their age, hometown and state, date of death, branch of service, rank and manner of death. When you see over 300 pages with name after name, you'll be speechless.
How do I hope to accomplish that goal? By gathering sponsors who will purchase the books for these families. I've already begun that task and it will continue. I hope that both individuals, clubs, companies and corporations will pitch in to help achieve this. To learn more about this mission go to: www.finaltributes.com
During the process of writing Final Tributes, I was fortunate to have the help of some really wonderful students from Oswego High School who helped with the mountains of data checking, etc. Some of those who helped were: Nicole Graves, Ruby Garcia, Alex Janiak, Anna Dutton, Tia Carr, Alissa Cullen and Dona Gonzorig. Mrs. Pauline Hilderbrand, counselor, helped gather these hard working, dedicated students for me. Without them, the book would be many more months in the making. Thank you guys! I couldn't have done it without you.
As usual, my son, Bryan, also helped a great deal. Something this large can't be accomplished alone. Only with the help of many could it come to fruition.
Also, three of my dear friends helped do a lot of the proofing: Karen Noggle, Rickie Wilhelm and Elin Rezek pitched in and came a number of evenings and weekends to help.
I've met some incredible people along the way ... people I'll tell you about as time goes along. You'll be inspired by the stories of the dedication of these individuals and hopefully have an ever growing insight into the "power of one" which I so fervently believe in. One person can do remarkable things. One person can change the world. One person has the ability to inspire others to action.
All of us know that. Sometimes we simply need to be reminded. As the holidays approach I want to remind you that this holiday season, there are 6,962 empty chairs around the tables of families of the fallen throughout the U.S. Families who are experiencing the pain of their soldier's death. I hope we'll take more than a moment to think about that and see if there is something each of us can do as a way to reach out to those families - a way of both thanking and remembering them. It will fill your heart in unexpected ways to do so.
Several suggestions might be: Leave a message of condolence and hope at the Legacy.com site for Iraq & Afghanistan heroes. Purchase a wreath from Wreaths Across America that will be placed on the grave of a veteran throughout the United States. Do something for a family who has a service member currently deployed. It's difficult to have their loved ones so far from home and in danger so let them know you care. Bring some homemade cookies, or a casserole. Give them a little gift card to an eatery. Whatever you can think of as a way of expressing our gratitude.
If you do just one thing to remember the soldiers who have given everything, or for the soldiers serving our country, then it will truly be a beautiful season.
As always.............live an inspired and patriotic life!