Jackie Minniti – Jacqueline
This week I’m hosting author, Jackie Minniti
Jackie is currently a columnist for The Island Reporter in St. Petersburg. She is a member of the Florida Writers Association, the Bay Area Professional Writers Guild, and the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators. Several of her stories have been included in Chicken Soup for the Soul collections. She lives on Treasure Island with her husband, John, and two noisy macaws and enjoys reading, walking on the beach, boating, and visiting her three children and six grandchildren in New Jersey. Jackie has been a featured speaker at schools, book clubs, women’s clubs, and libraries and writes a blog featuring Florida writers (www.fabulousfloridawriters.blogspot.com.She can be reached through her website: www.jackieminniti.com.
OUR VANISHING WARRIORS
A Guest Post by Jackie Minniti
My father, now 99 years old, is a veteran of WWII. As a Baby Boomer, just one generation removed from that war, I thought I knew a lot about it. I was aware of the players – the Axis and the Allies; I was familiar with the names of the famous and infamous; I’d learned about Pearl Harbor, the Normandy invasion, and the Battle of the Bulge; I’d read about the Holocaust and had a sense of its horrors. But it wasn’t until I decided to write a book about a little French girl named Jacqueline that I truly understood the amazing contribution made by our Greatest Generation.
In 1944, four years before my birth, my dad was a handsome soldier with the 127th General Hospital. Shortly after D-Day, his unit arrived in Rennes, France to set up a military hospital. There he met Jacqueline, an inquisitive 10-year-old who took a liking to him. She began following him from the barracks to the hospital and back again. While neither understood the other’s language, they learned to communicate by teaching one another a few words and phrases punctuated with exaggerated gestures. Soon, a beautiful friendship blossomed, and the tale of that friendship was the only war story my father was willing to share. He told it so often, sometimes with misty eyes, that it became a part of our family lore.
After I wrote my first book, Dad began “hinting” that I write one about Jacqueline. I explained to him that it wouldn’t have a large enough audience, and there wasn’t sufficient material for a book. A few years later, someone suggested that I write it as a middle grade novel because his 6th grade daughter knew nothing about WWII. I still don’t know why it never occurred to me to write the story for young readers, especially since I spent years teaching reading in middle school, but once I started looking at the story from that perspective, all my doubts disappeared.
Never having written historical fiction, I realized that I needed to learn a lot more about WWII. I plunged into the research, and the more I learned, the more I realized how little I actually knew. I learned about the grinding oppression imposed on the French by their Nazi occupiers. I read about the horrors visited upon the Jewish population of France. I was moved by the bravery of clergy members and everyday citizens who risked their lives to save their Jewish neighbors. But most of all, I was awed by the incredible bravery, selflessness and sacrifice of the American GIs.
Looking back at these young men and women from the perspective of a sixty-seven year old, I was struck by their youth, many away from home for the very first time. I was humbled by their willingness to risk their lives for the country and values they held dear. I was by astounded by the humility and fortitude with which they endured hardships only their fellow GIs could truly understand. And I was blown away by their determination to stare evil in the face and vanquish it at any cost.
I became committed to ensuring that young readers understand the price that was paid for their freedom. We lose hundreds of our WWII veterans each day, and their stories are disappearing with them. It’s essential to preserve these stories for future generations so kids will appreciate the sacrifices made by our military and realize how blessed they are to live in the Land of the Free. Today’s students lack a thorough understanding of American history, and what they don’t learn from history, they’re doomed to repeat. Jacqueline is my personal effort to keep that from happening, and I sincerely hope it will inspire young readers to appreciate what their great-grandparents did for them. We owe these disappearing warriors (and all our veterans) a debt we can never repay.
When ten-year-old Jacqueline Falna hears her mother’s scream, she is unaware that the axis of her world is about to tilt. Her father’s plane has been shot down by German fighters. In the midst of poverty, food shortages, air raids, and the grinding hardship of daily life under Nazi rule, she forms an unlikely alliance with David Bergier, a twelve-year-old Jewish neighbor who poses as her cousin after his family is “relocated” by the Nazis. When Rennes is liberated, Jacqueline meets an American soldier and becomes convinced that he has been sent to reunite her with her father. Based on a true story, “Jacqueline” is a tale of family, faith, unusual friendships, and the resiliency of the human spirit set against the backdrop of occupied Rennes in 1944. With the drama of fiction and the authenticity of personal history, “Jacqueline” is both a story about family and a family’s story.
Website URL: www.jackieminniti.com
Blog URL: www.fabulousfloridawriters.blogspot.com
Facebook URL: https://www.facebook.com/Jackie-Minniti-writer-125991605555/?ref=aymt_homepage_panel
Jackie and I would love to hear from you so please feel free to leave a comment.
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