Operation Homecoming Book Tour
As I've said many times before, I'm a huge fan of Andrew Carroll, one of those wonderful people who does great things simply because he can. Author of several best-selling books, including Letters of a Nation and War Letters, Andy -- although he would never take the credit for it -- is almost personally responsible for the preservation of some 75,000 war letters from every conflict you can think of. And for that alone, we are all indebted to him. Think of all the history that would have been lost without his efforts!
Now he's on the road again with his latest book, one which he edited pro bono for the NEA. It's called Operation Homecoming and is an anthology of writings that range from the humorous to the gut-wrenching:
"The first book of its kind, Operation Homecoming: Iraq, Afghanistan, and the Home Front in the Words of U.S. Troops and Their Families, is the result of a major initiative launched by the National Endowment for the Arts to inspire U.S. Marines, soldiers, sailors, and airmen and their families to write down and share their personal wartime experiences.
Encouraged by such authors as Tom Clancy, Mark Bowden, Bobbie Ann Mason, Tobias Wolff, Jeff Shaara, and Marilyn Nelson, who visited military bases throughout the U.S. as part of the larger Operation Homecoming initiative, American troops and their loved ones wrote openly about what they saw, heard, and felt while in Afghanistan and Iraq, as well as on the home front.
Almost 100 uncensored and never-before-published eyewitness accounts, private journals, short stories, letters, e-mails, poems, and other personal writings are featured in the book, and they show an extremely intimate and human side of war . . ."
Andy's tour started last week at the Library of Congress, but there's a peculiar reluctance by the mainstream media to cover the book -- I suspect because they fear their readers are war-weary. Regardless of how you feel about the current conflicts, though, this is a must-read in my view. It's compelling. It helps you understand the experiences not only of the soldiers and civilians involved, but of the families back at home. For the first time, we hear the voices of women in combat. And all perspectives are included. The NEA, to its credit, didn't censor. And finally, some of it is simply outstanding literature. Remember that old adage about not mincing words in a fox hole? It's true. This book is an important slice of the history of tomorrow.Between now and December, Andy will be on a book tour, speaking in CA, CT, IL, DC, VA, WA, FL, TX, TN, NC, MA and NJ. You can find details here. If you live in any of these areas, please consider attending -- and spread the word. Andy is a captivating speaker himself, but he's joined by people whose letters, poems and emails are in the book, and that elevates an already eye-opening evening to a whole new level.
Annie Moore's Youngest Descendant
Oh . . . my . . . gosh. This last week has been a blur. I had no idea when I launched this contest how it would all mushroom. What began as a simple contest-winner announcement morphed into an event that was part-family reunion and part-press conference. Front page of the New York Times?? Wow! And then this follow up with family details.
I'm still catching my breath, but wanted to take a moment to share my favorite photo. Above is 9-month-old Dylan, Annie's great-great-great-grandson. Off in the background is me filling the audience in on Annie's descendants. I know it's hard to make out the slide, so let me just tell you that hers is an all-American family with just about every ethnicity respresented. Surnames in her family include:
(lots of S- and D- names for some reason)
By far, one of the most amazing aspects of this experience was having a front row seat to the family reunion. It was such a kick seeing Annie's family together for the first time, comparing photos and figuring out relationships! They came from NY, NJ, CT, MD and AZ (one branch from WI couldn't make it on such short notice). When I called them, most branches already knew they were related to Annie, but one had no clue.
As to the lack of a tombstone for Annie, that's already being addressed. The winners both donated their prizes back, so that was a quick $1,000. And then the owner of NYC's Annie Moore Pub kicked in another $1,000. Not a bad start, eh?
On a personal note, I wanted to mention that ProGenealogists.com, Sharon Elliott and Tracy Stancil were singled out at the press conference for their contributions to this quest. Unfortunately, none have been mentioned in any of the articles I've seen so far, so I wanted to be sure to recognize them here. Without their superior research skills, amazing turnaround times (if you ever need anything done at the Family History Library in Salt Lake City, ProGenealogists are the folks to go to, as far as I'm concerned), and brainpower, we'd all still be looking for Annie.
I also wanted to thank the New York Genealogical & Biographical Society for agreeing to host this announcement-turned-press-conference on such short notice. Thanks especially to Leslie Corn for treating my outrageous request as perfectly reasonable and putting the machine into motion, and to Lauren Maehrlein for sacrificing much of her long-planned vacation to the cause.
At any rate, there's so much more I should say and so many more I should thank, but I'll end here for now. Don't you just love being a genealogist??