We Must Tell the Stories
I argued, “If the stories don’t get told they will be forgotten. Some young people, who weren’t yet born, aren’t hearing this history in school. Only those who were there can tell it accurately and completely, and from the Vietnam point of view. It’s also a testament to faith. You really must tell it.”
He finally agreed. We interviewed and talked for more than a year to get it all scratched out, then another year for me to get a first draft written. When readers let me know how the story affected them personally, and some for deeply personal reasons, I knew it had been the right thing to do to write it.
The couple I wrote about in Rock and a Hard Place, A Lithuanian Love Story, were also reticent to tell their stories. As members of The Greatest Generation, time was running out to get their story told. When they saw on TV some indications that our country was paddling toward Socialism, they decided people really did need to hear from those who already lived through that. They also argued there were many others who suffered, but most have already died in old age. But they have one thing in common. They saw their world collapse under socialism, and were now ready to let readers know what that was like. The title refers to being caught between a Russian invasion and a German betrayal and the love of their country.
Last weekend I was invited to the River Dunes Book Club to discuss that book. All the members had purchased the book, read it, and were eager to talk about it. I was delighted and nearly speechless at their compliments. They all loved the book. Several commented that the literary focus of WWII often forgets about the people, the farmers, the folks who weren’t committed to anything, but lost everything, like Germans who weren’t Nazi’s, or Vytas’s family of farmers in Lithuania, or Donna’s father who was a pharmacist. And again, I knew it had been right to tell their stories. These book club members will share their books; several bought additional copies to give to family and neighbors. They love the story and they want everyone to read it, share it, and most of all remember it. We cannot let these true stories die with their heroes. These stories from far away Vietnam and Lithuania, came to our shores and became part of the history of our people.
Write your own memoirs, journal, keep a diary; and talk to the older members of your family or acquaintances. Take notes. Tell their stories. Tell yours.