I’m thinking about the men in my family who served our nation on this Memorial Day.
Two of my ancestors fought for the Union during the Civil War: one from Pennsylvania (my dad’s side of the family) and the other for West Virginia (my mom’s side of the family.) Both were wounded, one at Gettysburg, the other at the Battle of the Wilderness.
Memorial Day dates back to 1865, shortly after the end of the Civil War, when people in both North and South put decorations on the graves of those who fell in what is still the bloodiest war in American history. The holiday was called Decoration Day before the name was changed to Memorial Day.
My dad volunteered for service in World War II in August of 1942. He first tried to join the Navy as a Seabee, but was turned down for being underweight. He never was a large man, maybe 5’7″ tall. So he went across the hall to the Army Air Corps and enlisted. (He always said that in those days, the Army would take you if you could see light and hear thunder. He was quite the joker.) He worked on the ground crew of the bombers keeping the sights adjusted so the bombs would hit their target. He served first in North Africa and then in Italy.
My brother joined the Air Force right out of high school and served in the Pacific area as the Korean War was ending. I still have the doll he sent me from the Philippines.
In 2015 and again in 2016, I visited the Normandy landing beaches and the American cemetery in Colville. Learning about the D-Day landings and then seeing the rows of crosses really hits home the tremendous sacrifices made by our Allied soldiers that day. The experience is moving and humbling.
Grave markers at American cemetery, Colville, France
Wishing you all a joyful and meaningful Memorial Day.
I’m pivoting from Tova’s Dragon to my sweet Regency romance, Lady Elinor’s Escape for this week’sMFRW Book Hooks. She has a good reason to run away, but that doesn’t mean she should.
When a runaway heiress masquerades as a seamstress, she complicates the life of a tortured barrister who specializes in rescuing females in distress. Can he save her from a disaster of her own making or will the past repeat itself?
Today’s snippet is from Chapter 1 of the book. For those not familiar with Regency London, Newgate was a notorious prison.
She might as well be in Newgate.
Lady Elinor Ashworth stared out the window of her bedchamber at acres of farmland sprouting new growth. Spring green brightened the vista, taunting her with the promise of freedom. After three long, lonely months trapped in this cottage, her spirit cried out for something more, something she could not name.
She glanced at the sketchbook in her lap. She had intended to draw the pastoral scene outside her window, but her hand had sketched a young lady forlornly staring through the panes of a window. A truer self-portrait had never been drawn.
Until the last few months, she had been allowed to wander alone through the Wiltshire countryside, but no longer. Not since Aunt Sarah came out of her melancholy and turned into a raving madwoman.
All her life Elinor had dreamed of adventure, so what she was planning to do should not daunt her in the slightest. She had read about people braving the ocean in small boats, exploring the jungles of Africa, searching for ancient artifacts in Egypt.
In contrast, stealing out of her aunt’s house in the dark, walking to the nearest coaching inn and traveling by herself to London hardly qualified as an adventure. The merest of escapades, in fact. Or so she assured herself to calm the butterflies suddenly dancing in her stomach. Still, what other choice did she have?
But it all depended on Mimi’s assistance.
Jumping up, she paced her small bedroom, eight steps forward, eight steps back, noting that the carpeting had begun to show the wear and tear of her impatience, a well-worn trail that led nowhere. Her immediate problem was finding a way to mail the letter to Mimi without her aunt knowing about it. In the past she’d been allowed to walk to the nearby village of Lacock, but lately…
With a sigh, she sat behind her small desk and skimmed the letter she’d just written in decent, if not fluent, French.
Beechwood Cottage, Wiltshire
April 29, 1812
I have quite made up my mind to come to London and hope I may stay with you for a while. I would not ask except there is no one else upon whom I may impose. It will be only for a short time, just until I can find a way to join my father in Portugal.
I have not heard from him in several months and fear our letters are being intercepted by my Aunt Sarah, whose behavior has become quite unpredictable. She has come out of the deep melancholy she suffered after dear Uncle Thomas’s death, but she is often not herself. She sees French spies around every turn of a country lane, and of late, has begun accusing me of spying for Napoleon.
That is not the whole story, but I will explain more when I see you. Dear friend, do say I may stay with you. I eagerly await your answer.
Your little Ellie
Elinor folded her letter and had just picked up the sealing wax when her aunt burst into the room. Her graying hair had escaped from its bun and there was a wild look in her blue eyes. Oh, no, it was one of those days.
Before Elinor could stand, her aunt strode to the desk and towered over her.
“There you are, missy. I’ve been looking for you. What is that?” She snatched the letter from Elinor’s hand and looked at it. “Ah, ha! This is the proof I’ve been waiting for.”
Elinor’s heart thumped madly. “What are you talking about, Aunt Sarah? Proof of what?”