June 6, 1944

Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial

The 75th anniversary of the Allied invasion of German-occupied France will be observed today on the beaches in Normandy, at Pointe du Hoc, at the nearby town of Sainte-Mere-Eglise, and at the American cemetery at Colleville-sur-Mer. These will be solemn tributes to the thousands of men who gave their lives to begin the reclamation of Europe from Adolf Hitler’s Third Reich. The Nazis had suppressed freedom for four long years and the fate of the world hung in the balance as the largest seaborne invasion in history landed troops on a fifty mile-wide stretch of beach on the coast of France.

None of the Allied objectives were achieved on that first day at the staggering cost of over 10,000 lives in the first twenty-four hours. Alone, 2,400 casualties (killed, wounded, or missing) occurred at “Bloody Omaha Beach.” It took tremendous courage, sacrifice, perseverance and determination to finally break through the coastal defenses and begin movement inland. The liberation of Paris would follow in August 1944, but the unconditional  surrender of all German forces would not come until May 7, 1945. Neither would have been possible without the success of “Operation Overlord.”

Dignitaries from the United States, Britain, France, and Canada will honor the dead as well as the veterans still living today. Due to the passage of time, only a handful remain. They’re in their 90’s now and this will be the last major celebration for those that survived the chaos and carnage of that day. They should be honored for their bravery and certainly world leaders will speak to their heroism. The Press will cover the speeches and most Americans will take pride in their words, but that remembrance will be fleeting. Less than 1% of our country’s population serves in the military. Few have any personal knowledge of the sacrifices made by our military members and their families, and they go about their lives without much reflection on wars past or present.

So, how will you observe D-Day?

I would be in France if I could to be a part of this last great celebration. I’d like to meet face-to-face with the veterans and hear their stories. Their numbers are dwindling and their first-hand recollections are all but gone. Their pride in being a member of the Greatest Generation and their pain over the loss of their friends and comrades will recede from public consciousness. Soon, their recollections will be just words in a history book.

I can’t be there, so I’ll watch the news. I’ll read the paper. I’ll put on my two favorite movies about D-Day, The Longest Day and Saving Private Ryan. These are insufficient gestures at best, but at least I’ll be remembering. For me it is a very emotional journey back in time. We face a far different world today thanks to their sacrifices. However, it is one no less dangerous. Threats evolve and echoes of the past remain. The 9,388 crosses and Stars of David at Colleville-sur-Mer remind us of the cost of the Normandy landings, while ongoing burials at all our National Cemeteries attest to the price in human lives of ongoing wars. I hope that we will always remember. We owe them a debt of gratitude that can never be repaid.

So, how will you observe D-Day?

 

American Heritage History of the Civil War: My Review

History of the Civil War Book CoverAnyone who follows this blog realizes that periodically I read yet another book on America’s Civil War in an attempt to understand the complexities of that monumental struggle. For all practical purposes the war ended April 9, 1865 at Appomattox Courthouse when Confederate General Robert E. Lee surrendered the Army of Northern Virginia to Union General Ulysses S. Grant. That was over one hundred sixty years ago yet the cultural, economic, and demographic differences that divided the nation still remain. Today, the discord that resulted in five years of bloody conflict still resonates in the debates over reparations to the ancestors of former slaves and the removal of Confederate monuments.

Pulitzer Prize winning author Bruce Catton first released his book in 1960 complete with photos, maps, illustrations, captions, and an introduction by James M. McPherson, Professor Emeritus of U.S. History at Princeton University. This Kindle version (which I downloaded for free) contains none of the amplifying material, retaining only the original text. However, for anyone trying to understand the underlying causes of the war; the attitudes, desires, and fears from both sides, as well as the major events, places, or key military and political figures involved, there is no better reference material. There are certainly voluminous works by many noted historians on the subject, and for those who want detailed analysis of the politics, military campaigns, battles, strategies and tactics, they should most certainly be read.

Catton synopsizes this information in a manner that is deeply insightful, easy to read and understand. It isn’t so bogged down in details that it becomes a challenge to comprehend and a labor to complete. It is a concise overview of the social, political, and military forces that propelled the nation to war, tore it apart, and despite decades of efforts to heal those wounds, left a legacy of racial division and cultural misunderstanding that continues to impact our politics and our interaction with one another.

I highly recommend the book regardless of where you are in your study of America’s Civil War. It can serve as an introduction to your reading or a very important companion piece to the books you’ve already read on the subject.

 

On Wings of Silence: Afterword

ON WINGS OF SILENCE:
Mexico ’68
by
DEDE FOX
Genre:  Historical / Novel in Verse / Literary Fiction
Publisher: Lamar University Literary Press
Date of Publication: April 2, 2019
Number of Pages: 196Scroll down for the giveaway!


On Wings of Silence is the story of seventeen-year-old Diana Green, who travels from Texas to Mexico City searching for adventure, freedom, and romance. She finds all three. 
 
Then Diana’s first love Guillermo vanishes during the revolutionary chaos prior to the ’68 Olympics. Heartbroken, she searches for the truth about his disappearance. As police track, threaten, and abuse those who ask questions, she refuses to be silenced and risks becoming one of the missing.
 
Based on real events, On Wings of Silence uses historical details to bring to life the horror of the Tlatelolco Massacre, presented through the eyes of a young woman readers will care about and admire.
“This incredible story…is told in a masterful way that engages the reader with its protagonist and the other characters from the start. They are authentic. We know people like them and we care what happens to them. In Fox’s clear voice, mystery, romance and suspense build steadily to the end. Pitched toward young adult readers, this is a good read for any age.” — Dianne Logan
 

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Excerpt

AFTERWORD

From On Wings of Silence: Mexico ‘68

By Dede Fox

Some stories take fifty years to surface. On Wings of Silence is one of them.

The first readers to recognize the significance of this topic were Anne McCrady and 2008 Texas Poet Laureate Larry D. Thomas, who selected my poem “Chapultepec Park” for the 2008 Christina Sergeyevna Award at the Austin International Poetry Festival. When critique partner Joy Preble said she believed there was a novel hidden within that poem, I began to search for answers to lingering questions about the chaos prior to the 1968 Olympics. Dr. Cliff Hudder, my earliest Beta reader, directed me to Elena Poniatowska’s Massacre in Mexico, and Alicia Salazar, whose uncle survived the bloodbath, contributed as a sensitivity reader.

Other beta readers of the full manuscript included Dr. Molly McBride, Dianne Logan, Juan Paloma, and Kim O’Brien. Their insights, as well as critiques by Bob Lamb and Suzanne Bazemore, along with inspirations from Charles Trevino’s SCBWI “Critique Critters” at Lone Star College, improved my storytelling. Fellow author Kathryn Lane helped with the wording of the Spanish version of the Corrido. I am especially grateful to my mentor and friend Dave Parsons, 2011 Texas Poet Laureate, who helped me develop my poetic voice.

For a quarter century, the Tlatelolco tragedy remained buried. With increasing access to Internet data, I eventually confirmed my worst fears; Communist instigators encouraged the student protests and the United States sent weapons and ammunition to Mexico to quell any conflict.

When former Mexican President Luis Echeverria spoke up about the young victims of the massacre, he said, “These kids were not provocateurs. The majority were the sons and daughter of workers, farmers and unemployed people.” According to him, then President Diaz Ordaz ordered snipers to shoot the students. How tragic and ironic that Mexican leaders used U.S. weapons to kill students protesting for a more democratic government while agents from the Soviet Union encouraged the demonstrations.

Triggered by this knowledge and my memories of running across advancing troop lines on the Avenida de la Reforma in Mexico City, I created the fictional On Wings of Silence: Mexico, 1968 with details supported by primary historical sources–testimonies from Massacre in Mexico, photos, letters, and newspapers, some with my byline.

Diana’s friends and acquaintances are fictional, with one exception. The student leader with the white van was real and a total mystery. I suspect he was a U.S. government agent whose purpose was to destabilize student leadership in the American university during turbulent times.

And Guillermo? Like my protagonist, I grieve for him, for all of the Guillermos and Guillerminas, and their families. Their truncated lives and unrealized dreams will forever haunt me. Diana and I hope our voices will rise on the wings of their silence.

Half a century ago, Olympic posters read, Todo es possible en la paz. I share that belief, but now have the maturity to know that peace is only possible when we put away our weapons and listen to one another.

FOR MORE INFORMATION:

MASSACRE IN MEXICO by Elena Poniatowska1968: THE YEAR THAT ROCKED THE WORLD by Mark Kurlanskyhttp://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=97546687http://nsarchive.gwu.edu/NSAEBB/NSAEBB10/intro.htmhttp://www.cnn.com/WORLD/9802/04/mexico.massacre/http://news.bbc.co.uk/onthisday/hi/dates/stories/october/2/newsid_3548000/3548680.stmhttp://www.nytimes.com/2007/07/11/world/americas/11students.html?_r=0

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/10/01/world/americas/mexico-tlatelolco-massacre.html

https://mexiconewsdaily.com/news/laques-honoring-president-are-coming-down/

http://www.latinorebels.com/2018/10/05/tlatelolcomassacrephotoessay/

 

Dede Fox is the 2017-2022 Poet Laureate of Montgomery, Texas. Since 2016, she has been the NEA/DOJ Artist-in-Residence at the Bryan Federal Prison Camp for Women, where she teaches creative writing. Through Houston’s Writers in the Schools, Dede also writes with hematology and oncology patients at Texas Children’s Hospital.
 
The Treasure in the Tiny Blue Tin, Dede’s first novel, was listed in the 2010 Best Jewish Books for Children and Teens. Her poetry books include Confessions of a Jewish Texan and Postcards Home. Dede’s poem “Chapultepec Park: September 25, 1968,” the catalyst for this novel, won the Christina Sergeyevna Award at the Austin International Poetry Festival.
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VISIT THE OTHER GREAT BLOGS ON THE TOUR:

5/9/19
Guest Post
5/10/19
Review
5/11/19
Excerpt
5/12/19
Playlist
5/13/19
Review
5/14/19
Excerpt
5/15/19
Guest Post
5/16/19
Review
5/17/19
Afterword
5/18/19
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Texas Blood: My Review

Texas Blood Book CoverTexas Blood: Seven Generations Among the Outlaws, Ranchers, Indians, Missionaries, Soldiers, and Smugglers of the Borderlands is far more than the genealogy of author Roger D. Hodge’s family. It is the story of the land itself, the past and present history of the border Southwest.

It isn’t an easy book to classify. It’s scope is as big as the state – a rambling account that is part memoir, travelogue, and history book. Meticulously researched, it can at times read like a textbook. Moreover, people, places, events, and the author’s thoughts are not presented chronologically and the juxtaposition of time and place can be disconcerting to the reader. However, if you can adjust to the many digressions that result from Hodge’s stream of consciousness style of writing you will encounter a lyrical, unsentimental, and sometimes brutal account of the Lone Star State.

The reader must decide whether Texas Blood refers to the blood that runs through Hodge’s veins or the bloodshed that has flowed ever since the conquistadors attempted their conquest of the New World, Native Americans (including the Apache, Comanche, and others) perpetrated depredations against Anglo settlers and each other, or the drug cartels fought to expand their narcotics and human trafficking networks. Violence has always been a part of Texas’ past and present and Hodge is unflinching in his account of its impact on the state.

The probability that anyone would choose to live in such rugged country and endure the unbelievably harsh and cruel conditions therein seems unlikely, and for this reason Hodge has retraced the  footsteps of his ancestors… to find the answers to their settlement in West Texas. “What was it that brought my people to this particular place? Why would  anyone attempt to settle in this unforgiving landscape? What were they searching for that was found here, in the devil’s own country, alongside his namesake river?”

His attempt to resolve these questions has yielded a richly descriptive portrait of the contested borderlands along the Rio Grande. It is the story of human habitation. It is the story of a country and its hardships. It is an ode to the land and its people from Native Americans, to European settlers, to today’s occupants. It is the story of the ongoing struggles along the international boundary with Mexico. It is the continuing saga of Texas.