Sunday, May 24, 2009

Thank You For Serving!

This is a previously published article and has been edited.

Whenever we're out, if we see a man or woman in uniform, my husband always shakes their hand and says, "Thank you for serving."

I'd like to remember those in our family who have kept our borders safe by sacrificing their own safety.

Major General Frank Carroll. My husband called him Uncle Frank. A significant player in Air Force history, he was instrumental in the creation of the Army Air Corp, signing the contract to buy the B-47. Frank was the last man to fly with Orville Wright. They were close friends, as evidenced by a photo in his house of him standing with the aviation inventor and a scrap of canvas from one of the first planes he and his brother Wilbur flew.

My husband's grandfather, Stanley Carroll. Served on board ship in the Navy during WWI.

My father-in-law, Senior Master Sgt. Paul Kovach. Served through retirement in WWII in the 8th Air Force. We think he may have served with Jimmy Stewart. After Dad died, we found a picture of Jimmy getting a medal and there was Dad in the ranks. He never told Mom. That's the kind of guy he was. Everyone was equal in his sight.

My father, Bill Keal, served in the army in WWII. Daddy's unit helped to liberate a French town. His name, along with the other soldiers, is forever memorialized on a plaque in the town square.

My mother, Ruth Keal, (shown second from the left--the child belongs to one of the other women) served in the Women's Army Corp (WAC) in WWII. My mom joined to see the world and ended up spending her entire tour of duty in Kansas, mere miles from where her home was. Mom and Dad got married in uniform.

Arthur Wiles, who I call Uncle Bud, served in the Navy in WWII. His brother, my Uncle Mickey, aka Mike Wiles served in the army and in his words, "I was a dirt soldier. I walked from the southern tip (of Korea) to the Yalu river and somehow picked up a silver star along the way."

My uncle, Jim Cartlidge, served in WWII in the 101st Airborn Division.

My husband's Uncle Bud, aka Warren Carroll, served in the Army Air Corp and the Army in WWII. He was a bomber crew member, (we think a gunner,) but found it boring. He then switched to the army and volunteered to be on the scout tank crew. These tanks would find German tankers and act as decoys by drawing them out of hiding where our planes and ground crew could destroy them. I'm thinking that cured his boredom! My favorite story was when actress Betty Grable visited the troops and stood in his tank for a photo op. He was inside and could only see her "Million Dollar" legs, but she was wearing pants. What a disappointment!

Uncle Bud's son, Mark Carroll, served in Vietnam in the Marine Corp.

My brother-in-law, Air Force Master Sgt. Herbert Curtis Pruett, served several tours to Thailand away from his family.

My brother-in-law, Robert Clark of 101st Airborn Division, served in Vietnam and was hit by a sniper. He had on his helmet, but the bullet slipped under and grazed his head. He came home with a Purple Heart.

Patricia Freese, my cousin, served in the Air Force in Greenland.

Our son, Sr. Airman Jonathon Kovach, joined the Air Force in 2001. He served overseas in Okinawa and Korea.

And finally, my husband, Master Sgt. James Kovach. Proudly served in the Air Force for twenty-three years. A humble guy, he put on his uniform and went to work every day. When he retired, he received a plaque that simply stated his philosophy: "Just doin' my job." He served in the post-Vietnam volunteer era through the Gulf War, working to keep our borders safe.

I'm proud of every service member in my family. They've fought, spilled blood, and sacrificed to be sure their children and children's children could live in a free country. They've fought to free the oppressed, eradicate evil, and actively demonstrate their love of this country.

I also salute the spouses of these military servicemembers. We all have made our own sacrifices, some staying behind to give our children stable homelives while their daddy was away. We were the ones who wrote the love letters and tried our hardest to provide safe environments for them to return to.

To all of these brave men and women, service members and spouses, I salute you.


Side note: For more information on General Frank Carroll and his role in the acquisition and development of the jet airplane for the new Army Air Force, please click here, here, here, and here.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Just Not That Into You

I'm in a new relationship. We've been together three months now, but it isn't going well. I'm becoming convinced, even though it's hard to admit, that my manuscript is just not that into me.

Ever have the same feeling? You know the signs.

1. It's distracted when with you. You sit down to spend time with it, and the words jump all over the page refusing to coagulate into a coherent sentence. Nothing you do pulls it together.

2. It's not calling you. You go through your day and realize, "Hey, I haven't thought about my manuscript in, like, forever." It has not made an effort to call you to sit down and write.

3. It doesn't want to commit fully. You're moving along, thinking you're on the right track, when everything falls apart in the middle. The whole manuscript unravels, and you realize it's not doing its part to bring the storyline to completion.

4. It has disappeared on you. It's gone. And with it every unique idea, every bit of plot, every colorful character. You don't know where it went. All you know is that you must start over. And you realize, maybe it wasn't the storyline for you, anyway.

Every relationship takes work. This couldn't be truer than for you and your new manuscript. When you first meet that special storyline, pray to be sure it's the right one for you. Then, if you feel peace about moving forward, follow these steps to avoid the "Just Not That Into You" relationship:

1. Love is patient. Relax. Take your time to develop a solid plot.

2. Love is kind. Kindness is love in action. Do something special for your manuscript. Spend the time it desires, nurturing it, letting it know how important it is to you.

3. It does not brag and is not arrogant. Nothing will kill a relationship with a manuscript faster than an egotistical author. Manuscripts have a way of bringing down the boastful. Plot lines drop. Characters become flat. Settings? What settings?

4. It is not self-seeking. Know that you and your manuscript are on the same team. If you feel you're struggling with it, guess who has just become a world-class wrestler? Strive instead to dance with it, arm in arm, and listen to its heartbeat in the rythym of the words.

5. It is not easily angered. Throwing your manuscript against the wall is not allowed. Instead, attend to its needs. Patiently work on each problem, and soon it will thank you by flowing smoothly once again.

6. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Believe in your manuscript. If you prayed, as suggested above, know that it will stick with you until completion.

7. Love never fails. If you love your manuscript, it will love you back.