Paul  Kengor

These pages are primarily about helping children (and even their moms) cope with the absence of their dad. At the end of the book, however, one finds something for dad as well: a removable insert of suggestions for the kids for their father, beginning with a long list under the heading, “Send a Box of Things to Daddy.” The insert concludes with this wisdom: “Choose a special prayer to pray together before Dad leaves, and talk about how you will both continue that connection of prayer as long as he is away.” And in case that prayer doesn’t come easy, Edick and Johnson have composed one:

I pray my Daddy
will be strong;
that time away
will not be long.
I pray, dear Lord,
be close to him.
On every mission,
go with him.
While we at home
stay strong and true;
help us to love and trust
in You.

The closing prayer is a nice touch that echoes back to the Patrick Henry quote at the start of the book: “The battle does not belong to the strong alone, but to the vigilant, the active, and the brave.”

Not surprisingly, given the political leanings of the publishing industry, these unapologetic expressions of God and country—call it patriotism—were a sticking point in finding a publisher for the book. One editor at a major house was willing to consider the manuscript only if the authors toned down the flag-waving. “That was NOT going to happen!” says co-author Paula Johnson.

Johnson told me that her co-author, Kathleen Edick, had the vision for the book. Edick’s son had just been deployed to Iraq, leaving young children and a young wife at home for a year. She was looking for a book to help her grandchildren understand what was happening. She came up empty-handed. So, she sketched out a story, which she shared with Johnson in the art class they were taking in their hometown of Eaton, Colorado. Suddenly, they were collaborating on a book.

Rather than writing something that honored the politics of liberal editors in New York, Edick and Johnson stuck to their guns and honored the troops. They saluted the flag. This was a sacrifice that left them alone to self-publish—meaning no advance, no huge print-run, and no team of 24/7 publicists booking them on radio and TV.

Yet, it was a sacrifice worthy of the little girl on the cover waving an American flag.

If you know a family missing dad this Memorial Day, as he patrols the dangerous terrain of Iraq or Afghanistan or wherever, buy a copy of this book as a gift; or, better, buy a box and donate it to the local recruiting office or VFW or American Legion. It would make for much more meaningful summer reading than the latest Stephen King slasher novel.