From Publishers Weekly
In December 1965, David Spears said good-bye to his wife and three children and went to fight in Vietnam; he returned "in a cargo plane full of caskets" in July 1966. His family has never been the same. "He was the center of what made me feel safe," Zacharias, then in third grade, explains. Her mother cried nonstop and never spoke of her beloved again. There wasn't much time for grief, anyway. Spears's paltry life insurance money was soon gone, and Zacharias's mother was a high school dropout living in a cramped trailer home in Tennessee with three kids. She put herself through nursing school while working and raising those youngsters. Although Zacharias's brother struggled with drugs and the teenage Zacharias had to have an abortion before realizing getting pregnant wasn't the best way to find reliable love, they all turned out fine eventually. Readers may enjoy Zacharias's mom's trailer park smarts (a woman's best protection is "a good padded bra") and her colorful Southern-isms (her hungover brother was "sicker than a yard dog with scours"). But while Zacharias entertains, her main point—that a soldier's death brings pain and sorrow to many generations of his family—is a sad truth that Americans are beginning to relearn. Photos.
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Karen gives an overview of the book:
From Publishers Weekly
Karen Spears was nine years old, living with her family in a trailer in rural Tennessee, when her father, David Spears, was killed in the Ia Drang Valley in Vietnam. It was 1966 -- in a nation being torn apart by a war nobody wanted, in an emotionally charged Southern landscape stained with racism and bigotry -- and suddenly the care and well-being of three small children were solely in the hands of a frightened young widow with no skills and a ninth-grade education. But thanks to a mother's remarkable courage, strength, and stubborn tenacity, a family in the midst of chaos and in severe crisis miraculously pulled together to achieve its own version of the American Dream.
Beginning on the day Karen learns of her father's death and ending thirty years later with her pilgrimage to the battlefield where he died, half a world away from the family's hometown, After the Flag Has Been Folded is a triumphant tale of reconciliation between a daughter and her father, a daughter and her nation -- and a poignant remembrance of a mother's love and heroism.
A former newspaper reporter and columnist, Karen Spears Zacharias learned the craft of storytelling from her Appalachian ancestors. Karen teaches journalism at Central Washington University in Ellensburg, Wa.. Her work has been featured in Good Morning America, Huffington...
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