background image
Two to Commemorate
Decoration for Valor
Veteran's Day,
November 11
commemorates not
only the armistice that
ended World War I, but
also the heroism of all
who have served our
country. We honor their
courage to "do the right
thing" no matter how
difficult. Joe Cassilly's
novel Decoration for
Valor is a story of three young people
struggling to reclaim their lives in the
upheaval of the Vietnam War.
The narrator of Decoration for Valor is
a young soldier, paralyzed within his first
6 months' of service in Vietnam. His
struggles toward physical rehabilitation,
emotional healing and mental survival
are aided by a young nurse who has
also served in Vietnam, as well as the
encouragement of a student nurse who is
preparing to serve and the experiences of
other wounded veterans. More than a war
story, though, the novel is a testimony
to the author's belief that "the more
challenges you have in life, the more
optimistic you have to be." The challenges
faced by the young hero are not only the
physical limitations of his disabilities, but
also the social challenges of the Vietnam
era and familial challenges of a remote
parent, as well as his growing feelings
of affection.
Joe Cassilly emphasizes that the book is
not autobiographical, although the feelings
of the central character draw on those he
experienced. "I didn't want to turn people
off to the rest of the book. I hope that
people can read this and get an idea
of what it's like to live your life with a
disability. Lots of people have disabilities
that you don't see and we all need support
and faith to keep going. You never know
what disability someone is struggling with."
The characters in Decoration for Valor
are well-drawn, with humor and honesty.
Joe Cassilly explained that the style of
the novel a non-linear series of short
vignettes, memories, dreams and
recollections is similar to everyone's
story. "Whatever is happening to you is in
the context of something that happened
before, or something that's going to
happen . . . Life isn't a big long story, it's
a day at a time, or an hour at a time . . .
You're either reacting to something that
happened in the past or you're anticipating
something in the future." We'd like to
anticipate more novels from Cassilly in
the future.
Copies of Decoration for Valor are
available at
Barnes & Noble
and at
Amazon Books
and at
Harford County
Public Libraries.
Joe Cassilly will be at
Bel Air Public Library
for Meet The
Author, a book signing on November 16,
at 6:30pm. Advance registration is
required. 410.638.3151
A Call for Conscience
Kristallnacht, the
Night of Broken Glass
November 9-10,
1938 was a series of
attacks against Jews in
Nazi Germany that is
viewed by many histo-
rians as the beginning
of Nazi Germany's
`Final Solution.'
A Call for Conscience
tells the story of one
young Berlin doctor's decision to oppose
the Nazi regime.
`Doing the right thing' is central to
the story of Albrecht Tietze, a young
non-Jewish physician in Berlin who
declared his solidarity with Jewish
physicians, banned from practicing
medicine in 1933. A Call for Conscience
not only celebrates Tietze's determination
to oppose the edicts of the Nazi regime,
by fran johnson
writer's block continued on page 39
HHT-090-01 Nov-Dec10:harford'sheart winter08 10/20/10 4:09 PM Page 12