Writing Wednesday – The Art of Work Book Review

I am a fan of writer Jeff Goins. I follow him on Facebook and read his blog. He has a great way of wording things that I’m thinking, have felt, or am going through in my creative life. If you haven’t read his blog, I suggest you check it out. He recently released a new book The Art of Work. A Proven Path to Discovering What You Were Meant To Do.

A colleague of mine works with Jeff and after reading a couple of posts about why people, who are finding their way and their passion, need this book, I asked her a question. Why do I, someone who understands and knows in her soul, what her creative path is, and is living it, need this book? Her answer – because it is filled with inspiration, and even she, who is on a path she believes is correct, was able to use the book to hone in some things.

Good enough for me. I ordered and read this book. Now, for those who are struggling to live their life’s passion and dream through work, this book is overflowing with inspiration. Each chapter has multiple stories of people who overcame odds, missed their calling, changed course, and ended up doing what they were meant to do on this earth. I saw a lot of that paths I took the last three years to get where I am today. And I’m confident I’m living my soul’s purpose. Most of the book was inspiring but didn’t do much for me. Until…….the end.

At the end of the book, Jeff talks a lot about our work never being finished. We may start something in this life and someone else will have to finish it. Or, we start something but cannot finish it because we die. This is a good reminder that the projects I start and dream about, may never be fully completed, but if I do my part, I will have done what I was supposed to do. He also talks about allowing our passion for work consume us and every minute of our lives. There are seasons where this happens, but we must be aware to not let it consume us forever. You could also call that work-life balance, and if you read my blog post from last week on the book Resilience, I talk about that. Both of these ideas are important to me as I continue to move forward.

Finally, Jeff points out many times throughout the book, that one action, one project, one deed or kind word, can have a ripple effect that we may or may not be aware of. That ripple effect is something I have been thinking about lately with my World War II work. I am one person teaching others how to research and tell the stories of their soldiers. I cannot tell everyone’s story so they are not forgotten, but I can teach people and they will in turn tell others, and over time, more of our soldier’s stories will be recorded. For me, this is very important.

I encourage you to pick up this book whether you have found you calling and life’s passion or not. You will learn something, think about new things, and see a different perspective, even if it takes the entire book.

© 2015, Jennifer Holik, Woodridge, IL

Print Friendly
Categories: Books | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

Tuesday’s Tip – British Commonwealth Cemeteries

Tyne Cot Cemetery WWI (10)

Tyne Cot Cemetery. Photo courtesy Jennifer Holik.

Are you interested in finding your British Force ancestor’s grave from World War I? If you had a relative who served with the British, Irish, Scottish, Australian, or New Zealand forces under the British crown in World War I, there are some great resources available to you. The primary one being the Commonwealth War Graves Commission.

These cemeteries are scattered in Europe in countries like Belgium, France, and Germany. Many are located within a farmer’s field and may not be accessible. The larger ones usually have parking nearby.

The graves of those identified soldiers, have the name, service number, rank, and unit engraved on the stone. The unit crest is also engraved on the stone. Those who are unidentified have this indicated on their stone.

All of these cemeteries are recognizable as you drive through the countryside because they each have a tall cross monument with a sword pointing down.

While these cemeteries usually do not have anyone on staff or an office in which you can inquire about who is buried there, they do have a resource to help you locate individuals.

Tyne Cot Memorial Registry books (2)Within each cemetery you can find a Memorial Registry box. When you open the box, you will find inside, several books of names with grave locations, unit, and death date. There is also a cemetery visitor’s register you can sign. Tyne Cot Memorial Registry books (3)

Tyne Cot Memorial Registry books (1)  These cemeteries are beautiful, peaceful, and well-kept. I encourage you to visit if you have a chance when you are overseas.

© 2015, Jennifer Holik, Woodridge, IL

Print Friendly
Categories: Military Research | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Military Monday – Gold Star Families Research & Memorials

I do a lot of World War II research focusing on individual soldiers and their stories. Most of these soldiers died in service. Over the last few years I have met people around the world who share my passion for researching soldiers, returning medals, locating remains, and helping family members locate information. I am grateful to be connected to each of these people because we all have different skills and work well as a team to solve cases.

Quite often I will be asked to help someone find living relatives of a soldier from World War II to the present. This is not something I do. In those cases, I refer them to someone I know can help them. One of those individuals is Jana Churchwell of Gold Star Family Research & Memorials. I asked her a few questions about the work she does and am excited to share those questions and answers with you.

What prompted you to start doing WWII research and looking for MIAs?

Churchwell photo

Flight Officer George F. Churchwell, Jr.

My uncle, Flight Officer George F. Churchwell, Jr., was killed as the Co-Pilot and last person in control of a B-24 during a WWII combat training accident in California. Not a family reunion or gathering went by without mention of him. Although he was nine years older than my father, they had a striking resemblance to each other, and as a kid, I could not tell their photos apart. My father always told that my Granny tried desperately for months to find out what happened or the cause, and any details about the accident, but without any success. She was devastated at the loss, as any Gold Star Mother would be. As we all know, ‘Loose Lips Sink Ships’.

Growing up, I was influenced by my genealogist parents, who taught me virtually everything I know about the subject. One day a Google search produced a website containing an index of WWII aviation crashes. Once we found the tail number of the plane, a subsequent Google search provided the answers our family had been seeking all this time regarding my uncle’s military plane crash. About a month later, we were all on a flight to California, and found ourselves standing at the very location of the crash, finding and holding chunks of melted aluminum with rivets and other various artifacts where my uncle and five other crew mates lost their lives in June 1943.

This was a life-changing and compelling experience for me, as I pursued finding every piece of information about the other crew mates. Originally this was done to put together a display of military biographies and photos, along with a few select crash artifacts, in the local museum there to honor the men. In doing this, I was so hooked and became increasingly obsessed with locating the military families of WWII. I loved it so much, I just kept going. I thought if I put the information out there, then whatever family member was seeking it, would find it, just as our family had.

What kind of cases do you work on?

I work mainly on WWII military men lost in aviation accidents, but I also research men lost in the various service branches. Due to the loss of a Bombardier and Navigator off the coast of California several weeks after my uncle’s crash, I developed a sincere interest in those who had gone missing stateside. In doing this research within this group of men, I came into contact with a fellow who was already preparing a manuscript about the series of accidents in June and July 1943. I was able to contribute much of the history I had collected, to his book, The Santa Barbara B-24 Disasters: A Chain of Tragedies Across Air, Land, and Sea by Robert A. Burtness.

My work for those missing in action continued further as I had found my true passion in life. I document the details, not only of military accidents, but also note basic facts about who these men were, and who had such promising futures ahead of them that never to come to fruition, and to which Gold Star Parents, sisters, brothers, sons and daughters, they each belonged. If there is anything these men would have wanted is to be remembered and their lives not forgotten. As a pastor friend of mine always says, “a person’s life is more than a dash between two dates.”

What is the most rewarding part of this job?

The most rewarding part is knowing that you are helping someone else by providing some or all of the military and genealogical information. I have been blessed to locate numerous family members whose remains from WWII have only been recently discovered. To me, this work gives back to me a satisfaction and joy in a manner that is hundred-fold in comparison to the time and effort that goes into it. Literally, the reward is priceless.

What is your most interesting or rewarding case?

The most rewarding cases were two extremely difficult ones in particular. Each took me about four months to locate a living family member. One of these was very challenging, in that the family was of Polish descent, and every time the names were transcribed in the genealogy records, it was spelled a different way. Complicating matters, the same first names were repeated within the family tree, causing the potential for much confusion with the family relationships. Also, the fellow who was lost had only one sister, who died very young and with no children.

You also offer specialty services like photo and document restoration and repair. Why do you offer this? What drew you to this service?

I inherited my passion for photography, as well as genealogy, from my parents. My father spent a lot of time when I was younger collecting as many old family photographs as possible to include in our family tree and database for the purpose of future publication. Many photographs within the collection had been torn or damaged over time. Prior to the days of the personal computer, scanner, or digital imaging, my dad invested many resources in hand-repairing, re-photographing these photos at home using an enlarger, and developing his own film in a dark room. Because he did so much of it, and photographic paper and supplies were very expensive, he used resources wisely to save on costs. Further, my mother’s parents had owned a local jewelry repair and photographic store.

My grandmother knew the art of colorizing black and white photos by hand. She taught this to my mother, and my mother taught this to my father, and both of them taught it to me about the time I entered high school. I also inherited this love of family history and photography from both my folks. I took four years, and ended up winning a scholarship to Savannah College of Art and Design for my photography portfolio.

Nowadays, in the digital age, my father learned to do everything on the computer using photo editing software that he had done before all by painstaking and time-consuming work by hand. He subsequently taught me also how to use the software and to do the same things. I am truly blessed to have inherited the interest, background, and love of family history and photographic preservation and restoration from such intelligent and resourceful parents!

Anything else you might want to share.

I continue to do all work for the Missing pro-bono. I don’t do this for any monetary purpose per se, but my dream would be to spend all of my time doing the very thing I am so passionate about and what it is I feel that I am the best at doing. As stated previously, the reward is not monetary. My heart is truly in this work, with the lost men and their families, and that is the ultimate purpose. But, practically speaking, I gotta eat. Ha!

© 2015 Jennifer Holik, Woodridge, IL

Print Friendly
Categories: Blogs and Websites, World War II | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

Proudly powered by WordPress Theme: Adventure Journal by Contexture International.