The Ultimate Blog Party

Ultimate Blog Party 2012Who doesn’t like a party? So glad you stopped by. Come on in and stay awhile. Just like putting on a name tag, let me know that you were here and leave a comment, like LYMTYK on Facebook, or follow on Twitter or Pinterest. I would love to visit your blog too!

Love You More Than You Know honors our military and their families. I am the mother of a veteran and am so proud to share stories about our military heroes. As you browse through the site, you will read wonderful stories of courage, honor, and sacrifice. You might start with these stories. Just click on a picture.  Looking forward to meeting you. Have fun at the party!   Janie


Honoring an 85 Year Old Veteran

Michael Parker, Jackie Montgomery, Heather Ligus Photo by Donna Schneider

The room was filled with senior citizens, some in wheel chairs, some with canes, all with smiles. On September 11 this year, I was fortunate to be at a Celebration of Honor held at the Pearl Crossings Retirement Community in Strongsville, Ohio. My friend, Nadine asked me to come help sing patriotic songs for the ceremony.  Her husband, Dr. Walt George is the Medical Director of Crossroads Hospice, which sponsored the event.

The Celebration of Honor was for patient, Michael Parker, who served as a Merchant Marine and then in the Air Force during WWII. Thirty other residents, who were veterans were also honored. Nadine shook hands with one of the veterans and said, ” Thank you for your service.” He responded, “I didn’t expect this.” Nadine said, “It’s about time you got some recognition.”  This veteran said, “That’s not the reason I served.”

Kathy Holt, a Crossroads volunteer, did a beautiful job playing patriotic songs on her flute and stirred everyone to sing along. Another highlight for me was when one of the veterans at Pearl Crossings played The Marine Corps Hymn on his harmonica in honor of his friend, a Marine and also a resident.  The events of 9/11 were remembered with a moment of silence. Jackie Montgomery, Army veteran and hospice volunteer, handed out certificates, small flags, hats, and pins to the other veterans for their service. We are grateful for our veterans. May God bless you all.

Wave the Flags the 3/25 is Home!

Several moms wrote stories about their Marines from the 3/25 in Love You More Than You Know.  These brave troops have their boots on the ground at home after seven months of deployment! The second wave of Marines from the 3/25 will return at the end of March.

Suffering heavy casualties on their previous tour in Iraq, we are so grateful that our prayers have been answered and all have returned safely from Afghanistan.

Watch this emotional video from Fox 8 as families are reunited. A young father meets his baby son for the first time saying there is nothing better than  holding him and kissing him in person! Welcome home and thank you for your service.

3/25 Homecoming

I Was There: They Don’t Tell Stories

Kourtney and Jon Sladek

My guest columnist is Jon Sladek. He served in the Air Force from 1998-2004 and deployed to Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates. Jon earned a Journalism degree from Faulkner University in Montgomery, Alabama and was a staff writer for 3 years at the Maxwell-Gunter Dispatch, an Air Force newspaper in Alabama. His work has appeared in The American Legion Magazine, Lake Erie LifeStyle Magazine, I Love Cats Magazine and the U.S. Air Force Leader Magazine.

They Don’t Tell Their Stories

By Jon Sladek

It could be a neighbor, a coworker or someone who sits next to you in church. Veterans returning from service often assimilate back into society to lead lives of relative anonymity. It is impossible to know how many people you routinely come into contact with were involved in combat operations in Iraq.

The overwhelming majority of veterans did not serve for the privilege of boasting. They do not view themselves as heroes, but rather just another Soldier, Marine, Seaman or Airman doing the job they signed up for.
When I discovered my good friend Jim was involved in one of the bloodiest battles of the Iraq War, I couldn’t help but want to know his story. Not in a morbid way, but because I am a journalist and I so appreciate the sacrifice of the American serviceman and staunchly believe their stories are worthy of telling.

While I did serve six years on active-duty in the Air Force, deploying twice; I was never directly involved in combat. To hear the stories of courage and heroism described by Jim when he recounted his battle experience to me, I knew it was time to put my journalism background to use.
For the last two years, I have been compiling and writing the battlefield stories of local veterans for a book I hope to get published. Searching for veterans willing to tell their story to a complete stranger is not the easiest of tasks, but I consider myself blessed for the people I interviewed and connections I’ve made.

Chagrin Falls Fire Prevention Officer Jim Alunni still doesn’t know how he survived a massive truck bomb that left his body permanently scarred and damaged his hearing. Cleveland Clinic doctor Pat Ginley dealt with the stress of working in a battlefield emergency room by building and repairing bicycles for troops on base during his off time. Egyptian-born Albert Fanous used his language skills to boost morale by procuring various perks for his Army brothers, while witnessing some of the most memorable events of the fall of Saddam Hussein’s regime.
Each interview was a life-changing experience. I gained an understanding of what things were really like on the ground in Iraq, beyond the headlines and 24-hour news cycles. I tried to ask the right questions, while remaining mindful of the sensitive nature of the subject. At some point during several of the interviews, I felt the veteran began to appreciate the opportunity to unload some of the things that too many in our society don’t understand.

It is always a joyous occasion when a veteran returns from Iraq to a hero’s welcome at the airport. Sadly, for so many of them, the war does not end the day they set foot in the United States. Reading of the experiences of servicemen in Iraq can forge some understanding of the emotional trauma endured in battle. It also highlights the unmatched camaraderie between military members who form bonds that often last a lifetime.
This project began because I want to write books for a living and the military is obviously one of my top interests. Now I don’t care if this is the only book I ever get published. By recording the stories entrusted to me by our nation’s heroes, I have assumed a great responsibility.
Frank Herda, one of only two living Medal of Honor recipients in Ohio, told me when he graciously agreed to write the forward to my book that his one regret from his service in Vietnam was his failure to keep a daily journal.

With Love You More Than You Know, Janie Reinart and Mary Anne Mayer provided an awesome and unique opportunity to view the war through the eyes of the local mothers who send their beloved sons and daughters to fight for the country. With I Was There, I hope to accomplish the same for local troops.

Jon is accepting stories from vets in the Iraq War. Send your story to

Navajo Code Talker Dies at Age 86

In beauty I walk

With beauty above me I walk

With beauty before me I walk

With beauty behind me I walk

Everything around me, in beauty I walk

In beauty I walk

It has become beauty again

It has become beauty again

It has become beauty again

—Navajo Prayer

A few years ago, I had the opportunity to participate in a poetry workshop on sacred Navajo ground in Canyon de Chelly in Arizona. We learned about the Dinẻ (the name Navajos call themselves) way of life.  John Fox was our poetry teacher and Lupita McClanahan was our Navajo guide.  We climbed and walked and wrote in the canyon. We primitive tent camped and ate our meals—including golden fry bread– cooked on a fire outdoors. There was no electricity. We slept under the stars. Their silent brilliance took my breath away. We listened as Lupita told us stories about “the People”.   I learned about the beauty ways of these Native Americans and came to appreciate their culture.

The Navajo language refers to everyday things by gender. A gentle spring rain is female, while a loud thunder storm is designated as male.  In 1942, this beautiful language was used to help save thousands of lives by becoming the only unbroken military code in US history. During WWII, the Japanese intelligence experts broke every US military code and were sabotaging communications by inserting fake messages and commands to ambush Allied troops. More and more complex US codes were developed and took hours of decryption for very simple messages. A faster, simpler way of communicating secret messages was needed.The answer was using the Navajo language. The orignal group of code talkers numbered 29 and memorized 200 different terms. Nothing was written down. By the end of the war, the secret terms grew to 600.

From the Official Code Talker website:

“In a simple, memorable way, the military terms tended to resemble the things with which they were associated. For example, the Navajo word for tortoise, “chay-da-gahi,” meant tank, and a dive-bomber, “gini,” was a “chicken hawk,” (a bird which dives on its prey). Sometimes the translation was more literal, as in “besh-lo” (iron fish) which meant submarine; other times it was metaphorical, as in “ne-he-mah” (our mother), which meant America.”

We as a nation have lost another WWII hero, Joe Antonio Silversmith, a Navajo code talker.  The official website of the Navajo Code Talkers says: “It is a great American story that is still largely unknown—the story of a group of young Navajo men who answered the call of duty, who performed a service no one else could, and in the process became great warriors and patriots. Their unbreakable code saved thousands of lives and helped end WWII.”

Thank you Joe Antonio Silversmith for your service.

Big Read Event

Join me at the library for a Big Read event on October 19th presented by Hiram College’s Lindsay-Crane Center for Writing and Literature. The Big Read for Fall 2010 looks at  Tim O’Brien’s The Things They Carried. I am very excited to share a power point presentation discussing how Love You More Than You Know compares to O’Brien’s book. The event is downstairs in the Gallery Room at 6:30 pm. See you there.

Aurora Memorial Library
115 E. Pioneer Trail
Aurora, OH 44202

Keeps Those Cards and Letters Coming

Katelyn and her mom Katherine

Katherine Szerdy is proud of her daughter Katelyn who has just deployed as part of the Ohio National Guard’s 112th Engineer Battalion. This is Katelyn’s first deployment. Just in case you wonder what our warriors carry, Katelyn’s Mom said that the new vests the soldiers are required to wear weigh 35 pounds. Add  to that the 65 pound backpack and a 14 pound M4 Rifle.

Katelyn was a Yours Truly server. Cards and letters can be sent to her home and her Mom will make sure she receives them:

Katelyn Szerdy, 2267 Middleton Road, Hudson, Ohio 44236

We are sending an army of angels to watch over Katelyn and the 112th ENBN.Keep those cards and letters coming.

Only Child

Karen Phelps, author of “Only Child” in Love You More Than You Know, received an update from Major Jen who is currently deployed. Major Jen says that engineering is a universal language. “Only engineers can look at a big pile of rocks for 10 minutes in 110 degree weather and carry on a valuable discussion on the type, size, cut, and quality as it applies to different types of pavement.” Thank you Major Jen for all your good work.  Be safe.

Karen asks for prayers for her daughter and all of our soldiers.

Major Jen and Karen Phelps

Say Hello

If you are in the area, come on over and say hello.

A portion of the proceeds from the sale of this book will be donated to charities benefiting wounded veterans:, a Bob Woodruff Foundation initiative for injured service members and their families.

The Injured Marine Semper Fi Fund will also receive donations.