3 out of 4 stars
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Being inspired by his work in the Remembering America's Heroes organization, which commenced over two decades ago, and his father's participation as a marine in the Korean War, Author Ken Buckles presents the first book in a three-part series, Remembrance Volume I: Remembering My Veteran Friends and Guests from Living History Days, which aims at not just honoring the country's military veterans from past wars but also informing or reminding us of the sacrifices and the high cost of those sacrifices they have made to earn freedom for the United States of America.
It all began in 1996 when Ken Buckles started the "Living History Days" at Milwaukie High School to honor veterans and educate the students. His determination and can-do spirit, despite facing resistance and tough times in regards to this yearly program, is a key element of this book, and the same reflects in the numerous stories of the veterans included here. Honor, courage, and commitment are also key values explored through these stories. These are aspects of the book that readers will not only enjoy but also be inspired by.
In this book, the author brings the stories of these military veterans, from World War I and World War II to the Korean War and the Vietnam War, to the forefront, inviting many of them to detail their experiences in the first-person perspective. Therefore, we are literally on the war front while these remarkable and selfless individuals take us through several close shaves with death, harsh experiences as prisoners of war, the losses they suffered, the traumatic effects of those events, and more. One that touched me the most was the sinking of the USS Indianapolis that was narrated by Eugene Morgan, a survivor of the attack by the Japanese in 1945. There were only 316 survivors out of 1200, and I could feel the fear that Eugene and his crew endured through the dehydration and shark attacks they suffered.
As you may already guess, the book is an emotional read at times. We see how war not only causes the loss of lives but also how it drastically affects the lives of the survivors, including their families. Another aspect of the book I liked was the author's conscious effort to ensure the inclusion of veterans' stories from all races and genders. He even went as far as including how people were treated due to their racial differences in those times, especially African-American and Japanese-American military veterans.
The book seemed like it was professionally edited. However, I found slightly over ten errors while reading. Even though they were minor errors and easy to read through, this aspect of the book could be improved upon. Besides that, this was a perfect read. In spite of the lengthy nature of the book, it was an easy read, as I was very engrossed in the emotional and fascinating stories told throughout. I applaud Ken Buckles for the initiative to honor these heroes and recognize their significance, especially in a time when the military veterans have been unfairly neglected. I also appreciate the veterans who faced their fears by confronting the trauma from reliving unpleasant experiences to share these important parts of history with readers.
I rate this book three out of four stars. The number of errors I found ultimately influenced my decision to take away from the final rating. I look forward to reading other volumes in this series and would recommend this one to lovers of history and documentaries. It is highly important for the younger generation to be familiar with the contents of this book as well.
Remembrance Volume I
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