“It’s not fair! You’re just…you’re putting to much pressure on ME!”
With face in hands, the child ran from the room and slammed the door leaving me bewildered in the kitchen. All I asked was for help putting the dishes away.
Too much pressure?!
With a shake of my head, I left the dramatic child alone for a few minutes, because we both needed a time out. I pulled the box of old photographs down off the shelf and began rifling through. Sometimes memories bring a soothing balm to the rocky places of the present day.
When I came across the pictures from my trip to Ukraine in 2003, I let out a little yelp of joy. I’d been looking for those pictures for weeks, wanting to jog my memory of the events that so clearly marked the path for my book. I ran my fingers across the photographs, willing myself to remember the moments.
Some of them seemed vague. The time I spent in that country was a whirlwind, and I was
rather pregnant great with child, so not all the memories were cohesive. But a few were, and as I sifted through them, my dramatic child came and sat by my side.
“Who’s that?” The voice was soft, with the hint of apology floating at the edges.
“Those are men who battled evil,” I answered. “Those are men who know pressure. Real pressure. They understood suffering.”
I turned and offered a crooked smile. “Those are men who probably didn’t enjoy cleaning the kitchen, either. But they wouldn’t call it pressure. Maybe just more of an annoyance?”
A smile in return. The ice was breaking just a bit.
“Do you remember their stories?”
I looked carefully at the photo. “Not specifically,” I replied, “but I have them all written down. I’ll look them up later.”
“Why are their stories so important?” The innocent question was met with a quizzical stare, and all I could offer was a shrug at that moment. I couldn’t formulate the right answer, so I let the question hang in the air.
“Why are their stories so important?”
Long after the kitchen was cleaned and the house grew silent as the sun set low, I continued to mull over that one, simple inquiry.
Why are their stories so important?
These men are not American. Their stories and experiences tell of not only a time unfamiliar to most of us, but also a culture. Why is it important to tell their stories? Why should you care? Why should I care?
It’s said that the shortest distance between two people is story, and if that’s true then the question we should be asking is why wouldn’t we care?
These men stood up before their peers, and before a strange American girl, and they shared their stories. They shared them because they wanted me to know, and they wanted you to know.
They wanted us to see that the distance between us and them isn’t really all that far after all. We share the common longing for peace in a world that often quakes with violence.
We were all uniquely designed by a common Creator, and that design draws us together even if the miles, the language, and the landscape of our lives looks different.
So why are their stories important? Why should you care about the histories of a handful of men and women from half a world away?
Because their stories offer the connection between then and now, and in a time when evil runs rampant and we watch the world with wide eyes, a reminder of man’s capacity to overcome evil is beautiful, indeed.
In the months leading up to the release of my book, I will offer more background on the stories and events that inspired the novel. In the meantime, visit the War Stories page to read the histories of the four people who most impacted me as I researched this novel.