Vietnam veteran and self-published author Bill Graser has written a new collection of war stories told by local veterans.
“Veterans’ Reflections: History Preserved” tells the stories of 60 veterans, many of them living in Londonderry and Derry, starting with World War II and continuing through Afghanistan.
“I took their stories and weaved them into the historical overview of whatever conflict or war they were involved in,” he said.
“Anyone can tell the facts behind a story, but those who have lived it can share insights no secondhand history can match,” John E. Roper wrote in his review of the book for The U.S. Review of Books. “With this in mind, the author has taken the firsthand accounts and personal stories of 60 veterans and incorporated them into a cohesive collection of memories that covers half a dozen wars or periods of conflict. From the horrors of World War II to the end of the Cold War, Graser offers an illuminating chronicle of what a soldier’s life is really like.”
The idea to write a collection of stories was born from Graser’s efforts to honor veterans at the Nevins’ annual Memorial Day ceremony.
“As I collected the stories in the beginning, I thought there’s a larger story here to honor the veterans,” said Graser, who serves on the Board of Directors for the Nevins, a 55-plus community. “I believe the book is written in layman’s terms. Anyone can read it and be able to grasp the stories and history behind it. It gives the reader a better understanding and appreciation for what the sacrifices and commitments were to serve. People look at a vet differently once they understand what they had to deal with, what they have seen.”
While many of the stories in Graser’s book highlight the sacrifices and challenges veterans faced while serving their country, not every story in the book is about war.
“Some stories are funny. One is a love story,” he said.
And in addition to bringing history to life for the reader, Graser’s book preserves the stories of war veterans. Since he published the book, 10 veterans who are featured in it have died.
At the Nevins’ next Memorial Day ceremony, Graser plans to present family members of the veterans who have died with copies of the book with their loved ones’ stories.
Graser has also donated a copy of his book to the Leach Library.