Sunday, October 9, 2011

Back to blogging

It is raining! I will take the rain, after months seeing no real precipitation, as motivation to renew this blog that has become stagnate while I worked on finishing the novel. The first and part of the 2nd draft are finished, and I am in the process of major revisions. Rereading some sections, I often think, Was I asleep while writing this? It is awful! This is humbling work, always reminding myself that I taught students for years that the first couple of drafts are frame work--getting ideas down. Revising is where the artistic pen goes to work, and the scenes and emotions shine. I have an enormous amount of work to do. Hopefully inspiration will fall with each drop of moisture.
    The joy of this rain must be a little of the ecstasy felt by troops at the end of WW II—especially those who were in POW camps wondering what the Germans or Japanese would do with them in retaliation for defeat. In this year of the 70th anniversary of the beginning of WW II, it is important that we remember these heroes of years ago. The sacrifices they made are so often forgotten. It is so easy to look at these now very elderly men and women and forget they have tremendously interesting stories of bravery and adventures  to tell--worthy of novels and movies. If you know an elderly person, take time to visit with them about their lives during the War.  If never a part of the military, the folks on the Home Front also have memories of sacrifice, privations, and changes in the culture of the period.
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Father John McHugh---WWII POW

A few months ago, my daughter Kristine called to tell me that she had met someone who had to be included in this book (at that time, I was still thinking “short story). She had been to a dear friend, Bernadette Cathers Valsquez, wedding, and had met Fr.  John McHugh.  Kristine told me that Fr. John is a riot, and so personable to visit with, but that was not why he needed to honored.”--. Fr. John, a bombardier with the 448th Bomber Group, was declared dead along with the entire crew of his plane that exploded on a bomb run. It was not until after the end of the war that Father (at that time Lieutenant  John McHugh) and two fellow crewmen were found among over 9,000 POWs at Stalag Luft #1 at Barth, Germany on the Baltic Sea.  
   I told Kristine that sounded like a wonderful story, but I was writing about nurses. Then she told me (as Paul Harvey would say) the rest of the story. Father had a sister Mary who was a flight nurse during the war.  Of course, Mary's heart broke when she learned her brother and the entire crew had been lost. It was also difficult knowing that her parents were suffering so much anguish. After the war, one of her last assignments before discharge was serving on the crew of one of the final evac flights of Stalag Luft #1. The events that followed is the stuff of movies about miracles.
. Recently, I checked out Stulag Luft #1 in Barth, on the NET and was amazed with the 1st person accounts that are available. If you would like to learn more, a very interesting, informative sites is:

In addition, you can see Fr. John McHugh on YOUTube.  If the following won’t open just type in his name.