INTRODUCTION

From Chicken Soup for the Veteran's Soul

Introduction

Everyone knows a veteran. Take a quick look around your circle of family, friends and coworkers, and you will undoubtedly find someone who served in the Armed Forces. In millions of homes across the country, there are fading brown-and-white photos of family members in uniform, military awards and citations packed away in old boxes in the attic, and stacks of letters—old and new—sent from military bases and battlefields around the world. In the workplace, it’s not unusual to overhear conversations about time spent overseas. These are just a few of the many common instances that identify the veterans who surround us.

And everyone has heard a veteran’s story. These stories are passed down through families: Grandfather’s exploits during World War II, accounts of the aunt who nursed the wounded and still remembers those she couldn’t help, tales of a cousin who was drafted and did his year in Southeast Asia.

The stories contained in Chicken Soup for the Veteran’s Soul come directly from the veterans and their families, people who witnessed these events as they unfolded and who will always be the best custodians of our nation’s history. The retelling of their experiences will keep the memory of service, sacrifice, honor and duty alive in the minds of present and future generations.

The outpouring of support for this book has been overwhelming. When we put out the call for veterans’ stories, letters, e-mails, faxes and phone calls came in from all over the world. We received over four thousand contributions and enjoyed reading every one of them. Every day brought amazing and powerful stories: firsthand accounts of parachuting behind enemy lines, descriptions of the predawn preparations for the coming day’s battle, recollections of the weariness and loneliness of a young man or woman thousands of miles from home.

We also had the good fortune to personally meet and interview hundreds of veterans, from buck privates who saw the war from ground level, to the retired generals who commanded those fine soldiers, to the women who left comfortable homes to treat the wounded. Prisoners of war, Congressional Medal of Honor recipients, USO volunteers who entertained the troops and thousands of ordinary—no, extraordinary— GIs all generously shared of themselves to make this book a success.

It is a difficult task to write about war and the misery and suffering associated with it; yet sometimes, harsh circumstances can bring out what is best in us. The war stories in Chicken Soup for the Veteran’s Soul are filled with compassion, respect, brotherhood and love, especially love for one another. The love and reverence that veterans hold for each other is second to none. In some cases, the memory of a fallen comrade stays with a veteran for the rest of his or her life. And for many, the admiration that veterans share remains one of the most meaningful experiences of a veteran’s life.

It has been our great privilege to personally interview hundreds of veterans and hear their stories directly. Many veterans have told us that their time spent in the service was one of the best experiences of their lives, a time of camaraderie, of being in top physical condition and feeling the pride that comes with serving one’s country. Not many would wish to repeat those times, but they unanimously agree that the memories are priceless.

Chicken Soup for the Veteran’s Soul has been an honor to write. For the coauthors, it has fulfilled a longtime desire to give something back to those who gave so much through service to their country. It has been a true labor of love and a journey into the personal history of our nation’s finest citizens, our veterans.

It is the hard training, discipline, courage and sacrifice that stand out in the telling of all of these stories. Clearly, because of the great sacrifices made by so many men and women in the past, we are able to live in a time and a place where freedom is taken for granted.

We offer this book to our veterans as a small payment toward a debt that can never be fully repaid. You are our best, and we owe you our full support and our sincerest thanks. It is our hope that these remarkable stories will offer inspiration and insight to those unfamiliar with your tales, and rekindle the pride and admiration in those who have heard them before. In the retelling of these stories, we all share in the promise of freedom hard won by the young men and women of America who fought and died in its name.

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