Looking Back: A Conversation with a WWII POW

On this day four years ago, I was sitting under the hot sun at Omaha Beach in Normandy listening to President Barack Obama and French President François Hollande speak about the importance of liberty and friendship.

Who would have thought I would ever write that sentence—not me!

In 2014, less than a month after I graduated with my Bachelors, I traveled to France with a group of fellow journalism students from Central Connecticut State University to cover the 70th anniversary of D-Day. Looking back, I realized then that it was a tremendous opportunity. Now, four years later, I there is nothing I wouldn’t do to relive those moments.

All of my classmates had their goals for the trip. For one who is deeply connected to history, I knew that my biggest goal was to meet someone who fought 70 years ago on those beaches and share their story.

The first three days of our trip were filled with heavy emotions. I remember standing on a silent Omaha Beach letting the wind whip through my hair as I looked out into the vast ocean. We walked along the innumerable rows of white crosses at the American Cemetery, reading the names and paying our respects to the nearly 10,000 soldiers who lost their lives fighting for our freedom.

Omaha 1

 

american cemetery

 

We visited Pointe du Hoc, the highest point between Utah Beach and Omaha Beach.  I walked inside the bunkers, originally under German occupancy before American troops captured the area while scaling the cliffs. I remember looking out into the water from one of the edges of the point and taking in the scenery, wondering how a place so beautiful could host such dark and scary moments in history.

pointe du hoc

After the commemoration on June 5, our group stood outside waiting for the buses to bring us back from the beach to our designated location. It was an excruciatingly hot day, and my friends and I went to the shade. We then met Bernie Rader and his grandson, Brad, and we talked while waiting for the bus. We casually asked where they were from, and the grandson replied that he was from Connecticut. A town, in fact, not too far from us.

I could not explain the amount of excitement we felt. I remember my classmates and I immediately went into “journalist” mode and started to ask Bernie questions. As soon as we started the interview, his bus came. Heartbroken, we watched the bus drive away. Throughout the rest of the day, I ached to learn more about Bernie and his experience. His kind face and eagerness to share his story stayed in my mind, and I made it my mission to find the Raders and share Bernie’s story.

Long story short, I found him, and later that summer, I met up with Bernie in Connecticut and we had lunch. It was then that I heard his story and wrote my article for the class.

Please read Bernie’s story and remember those who gave up so much so we could be free today. Also, please read and check out all of the other awesome work my class did that summer!

 

 

 

Need free, beautiful images for your blog? Try Pixabay!

Hey everyone!

A few people have reached out to me asking what resource I use for some of my images, so I thought I’d write a post about it!

I discovered Pixabay a few years ago when I was a Content Producer for a local startup. I was covering education, pop culture, and other topics, and I found myself scrambling for copyright free images to use in my articles.

Pixabay is a super cool, life-saving resource consisting of a community of photographers and artists who share their copyright free images and videos. All content is released under a license that makes it safe for bloggers and writers to use the images without attribution—even for commercial uses!

When I am not posting traveling photos or my own amateur photography on my blog, I turn to Pixabay, and I am usually able to find the content I need. All you have to do is search specific keywords and there you go! Hundreds of images at your fingertips. These artists are absolutely incredible, and I always am pleased with the quality. If you can’t tell, one of my aesthetics is photographs of coffee, colorful journals, and pens! When I search “coffee” or “office,” I find tons of beautiful photos. Here are some examples:

coffee 1coffee 2coffee 3

Cute, huh?! I’m sure you’ve seen the bottom one on my blog before—it’s so peaceful and inspirational!

I can’t thank the photographers and artists enough for sharing their content so that amateur photographers like me can write tips and tricks and bring beauty to my website. While I do plan on using my own photography more on my blog (which I am starting to do), Pixabay is a helpful resource to find images for all sorts of projects!

What are some of your favorite blogging resources? Please share in the comments!

 

 

 

5 Quotes from Authors to Celebrate National Day on Writing

Today you might have noticed the hashtag #WhyIWrite on your newsfeed. That’s because today is National Day on Writing! By using #WhyIWrite, writers across the country have shared why they are dedicated to their craft. Today, I shared why I write:

The National Day on Writing was founded by the National Council of Teachers of English to bring more immediacy to the power of writing and encourage others to get involved in celebrating it. I wanted to share with you 5 quotes from some of my favorite authors on why they love to create and inspire through writing:

  1. “If you want to be a writer, you must do two things: read a lot and write a lot.” ― Stephen King
  2. “I wrote my first novel because I wanted to read it.” ― Toni Morrison
  3. “Write hard and clear about what hurts.” ―Ernest Hemingway
  4. “I’ve no idea where ideas come from and I hope I never find out; it would spoil the excitement for me if it turned out I just have a funny little wrinkle on the surface of my brain which makes me think about invisible train platforms.” ― J.K. Rowling
  5. “If I waited for perfection… I would never write a word.” ― Margaret Atwood

 

How about you? Why do you love to write? What are you working on? Please share in the comments!

 

 

Happy National Read a Book Day!

Happy National Read a Book Day! Today is perfect weather for getting bundled up in your favorite blanket on the couch with a steaming mug of tea in one hand and a book in the other.

book heart

The fall semester has officially started, and I am excited to celebrate National Read a Book Day in my Jane Austen class talking about one of my favorite authors! In honor of such a fitting holiday, I thought that I would have a bit of fun and list my top five favorite books (which was actually a lot harder than I thought it would be!):

 

Little Women by Louisa May Alcott


Little Women is the kind of book where you laugh, cry, (happy and sad tears) and finish with a sigh wishing it would never end. Every time I read it, I am excited to watch Meg, Jo, Beth, and Amy grow up together. Each sister grows up to be different from one another, and I find that each one possesses qualities that I see in myself: Meg’s values in family, Jo’s sense for adventure, travel, and writing, Beth’s quiet, introverted, kind nature, and Amy’s passion for art, quality of life, and helping others. It’s a wonderful book that exemplifies the importance of family, love, and being true to one’s self.

 

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

Pride and Prejudice has been a favorite of mine for some time (I’m actually reading this book now for class)! Every time I read it, I learn to appreciate Austen as an author for shedding light on the domestic realm in the 18th century—something that male authors at that time could not do! I admire the characters, especially the hilarious Mr. Bennet, who I believe to be my spirit animal, and also admire Elizabeth Bennet for her strong-willed personality and overall character.

 

The Hobbit by J. R. R. Tolkien


The Hobbit continues to be one of those books that I never tire of reading. Tolkien introduced us to a fantasy world that we all can escape to—from the Shire and its beautiful rolling hills and relaxed, carefree lifestyle to the Misty Mountains and the forest of Mirkwood. While different from our real world, there are similar themes that I resonate with. With all of the darkness in the world, I cling to novels like The Hobbit that share strong messages, including this one: “Even the smallest person can change the course of the future.”

 

The Prisoner of Azkaban by J.K. Rowling

I love Harry Potter and the themes that J.K. Rowling expresses in her novels. From her messages revolving around mental illness and the strength that love and friendship hold, I find myself feeling true solace while reading the series. Although I have read the series multiple times, I always find myself enjoying Prisoner of Azkaban a little more than the others. At this point, Harry’s maturing, and the plot begins to shift, giving us more of a background on the Marauders and a front row seat to Harry’s emotions and the demons that haunt him. Not to mention, we meet Sirius Black for the first time (who is one of my favorite Harry Potter characters)!

 

A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens

There is so much magic in A Christmas Carol! Every December, I make an effort to reread this book, and I am captivated as I follow Ebenezer Scrooge’s journey from encountering the three spirits to discovering the true meaning of Christmas. I have yet to read anything else by Dickens (and I desperately need to), but I always enjoy picking this one up and reading in front of the Christmas tree with a mug of hot chocolate! I love getting swept up the overwhelming nostalgia and getting into the holiday spirit!

 

What are you reading today on Read a Book Day? What are your favorite books? Share in the comments!