Each year, we pause on the 11th day of the 11th month to acknowledge and give thanks to the countless veterans who have served our country. And while those who haven’t served can recognize the contributions of veterans, it can be difficult to truly understand the depths of sacrifice those service members and their families have made so that we can be free.
Thanks to books, though, we have a window into the experience of veterans and their families, whether it be that of an Army sergeant who dodges gunfire to save the lives of wounded comrades, a young boy who waits at the airport for a parent to return from active duty, or an Army captain trying to unravel a life-and-death riddle at a time when our very way of life hung in the balance.
Here are a few books to read while we keep our nation’s soldiers in our thoughts this Veterans Day.
For Love of Country: What Our Veterans Can Teach Us About Citizenship, Heroism and Sacrifice by Howard Schultz and Rajiv Chandrasekaran (Knopf 2014)
Tales of uncommon valor, heroism and duty are collected in this volume, which seeks to give us the stories behind the men and women who make up today’s armed forces. From the Army sergeant mentioned above, to two marines who gave their lives and saved 33 of their brothers-in-arms by stopping an oncoming truck bomb, to a 60-year-old doctor who joined the Navy as a tribute to his fallen son, the stories in For Love of Country reveal to us the true measure of today’s soldier. Also contained in the book are tales of veterans who return home and make vital contributions to our society using the leadership tools they’ve developed in the service. As illuminating as it is inspiring, For Love of Country brings to life the very spirit of Veterans Day itself.
Coming Home by Greg Ruth (Feiwell & Friends, 2014)
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In this beautifully illustrated children’s book, author and artist Greg Ruth captures the excruciating moments of a child waiting at the airport for a beloved parent to return home from military action. Simple in its execution yet adroitly depicting the complexities of the moment, the book is both humorous and genuinely moving. “In the service of such a unique and often hidden experience of going to war, I felt getting this right was the most important way to honor those fortunate enough to come home to the loving arms of those whom they have left behind,” writes Ruth. “Making this book has been a deeply surprising and rewarding experience.”
The Rest is Silence by James R. Benn (Soho Crime, 2014)
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The age of the Greatest Generation is on display in this, the latest entry to the popular Billy Boyle World War II Mysteries. In The Rest is Silence, Boyle, a U.S. Army captain, is assigned to investigate when an unidentified corpse washes up on England’s southern shore at the site of rehearsals for the approaching D-Day invasion of Normandy. “Benn does a superb job of simultaneously capturing the personal anguish of war and creating a splendid adventure novel,” writes Library Journal in its starred review.