Janie Reinart and Mary Anne Mayer
Gray and Company, Publishers, Non-fiction, 2009
Suitable for: Adults, Parents, Grandparents
Themes: Sending a Son/Daughter to War, Love, Faith and Courage
Awards: 2013 Best Cleveland Book
Opening: “Mothers are not prepared to let go when their children grow up and become soldiers.”
Synopsis: This book is a collection of 45 powerful true stories written by mothers who share a common bond of sending their sons and daughters to war and the anguish of waiting and praying for their safe return. The idea for the stories was born out of the experiences of two authors who began writing their personal stories and sharing them with groups. They began to receive letters from other mothers sharing their stories and messages from their children about life on the front line. There are some families with several sons and daughters deployed at the same time. Reading these stories shows their strength, courage, love, faith and resiliency in some challenging situations.
When Janie Reinart’s 22-year-old son Joe, an Army Specialist with the Ohio National Guard, was deployed to the Middle East in 2003 it was like “time stopped.” “Night ran into day. I took off my watch and put on a lapel pin with Joe’s picture inside the frame. I wore Joe’s picture over my heart every day.” She spent many sleepless nights, sometimes falling asleep near the computer waiting for a message that would arrive at 2 a.m. Her son rode in a Humvee in convoys, which were easy targets. He lost friends. Like many of the stories I read, Janie found that the only way to deal with a deployment was by realizing she was not in control of the situation and surrendering to a higher power. Joe returned home from his deployment in February 2005. He completed six years of service and was honorably discharged.
Mary Anne Mayer’s son, Stan, enlisted in the Marines in 1999. Then Sept. 11, 2001 changed the world and he was deployed. She kept Stan’s leather jacket hanging on the back of the dining room chair. And there was a vigil candle on her mantel, with Stan’s picture nearby. Stan was part of a Mobile Assault Platoon (MAP), which executed offensive missions against the insurgents. Stan’s Humvee was hit by a suicide bomber, but he miraculously survived, although he had injuries. He carried his wounded brothers to safety. That day he lost four friends and many were seriously wounded. Mary Anne’s hands would “freeze on the steering wheel when she heard on the radio that 14 Marines from Stan’s unit had been killed.” “We rushed home and sat by the phone, praying that it would not ring and fearful of the sound of cars coming up the driveway.” Stan was not killed and eventually returned home. But their lives had been changed forever.
Why I like this book: This book is not about personal feelings about war, but rather the love and unrelenting pride the mothers feel for their sons and daughters. This book is truly a labor of love and a must read for anyone who has sent a son or daughter to war. There aren’t always happy endings. It is also an important book for those wanting to understand the depth of a mother’s love. This book meant a great deal to me because our 20-year-old grandson was a casualty of war in 2009, the year Janie and Mary Anne published this book. I have always felt the children families at home are the heroes as they deal with long separations and wait for those e-mails, letters and phone calls, letting them know their loved one is okay. They serve too!
You can visit Janie Reinart on her website Love You More Than You Know, where she shares stories about heroes, unusual reunions, military dogs, loss, victories and the daily lives military families.