(Rock Island, IL) The concept of A BOOK BY ME allows children to interview Holocaust victims, World War 11 survivors and other heroes and write about them. The Jewish Federation of the Quad Cities and the Holocaust Education Committee of the Greater Quad City Area will be celebrating their work at a Red Carpet event today, Sunday August 23 from 2:00 - 3:00 at the Tri-City Jewish Center in Rock Island. In attendance will be the young authors, the illustrators and two "heroes" who are the subject of two of the newly published books.
One hero in attendance is World War II veteran Casimer "Casey" Celske who is one of the few surviving members of the celebrated World War II Special Forces unit known as The Devil's Brigade or The Black Devils. While part of the Special Service Force, Casey was wounded twice. The first wound came from shrapnel that hit his head, face and ears, splitting his helmet in two and knocking him unconscious. It killed the soldier next to him in the foxhole. Then in Anzio, Italy he was wounded in the leg when a bullet from a machine gun struck him as he crawled on his belly across a wheat field. "I was lucky," he insists. "I was wounded twice but I just kept quiet because I'd seen so many dead kids or ones with legs blown off. It was horrible."
It was during the attack at Anzio that the brigade got their nickname. Some say the diary of a dead Nazi soldier was found saying "The black devils are all around us every time we come into the line. We never hear them coming." Another German prisoner stated "They are treacherous, unmerciful and clever. You cannot afford to relax." The Black Devils were immortalized years later in Hollywood in a 1968 movie titled "The Devil's Brigade" starring William Holden. The film portrays the first mission of the Italian campaign, the seemingly impossible task of capturing an impregnable Nazi mountain stronghold called Monte La Difensa. Casey knew how to handle mules from life on the farm back in Wisconsin. He volunteered to bring a pack of four with supplies up the mountain in Italy. The plan was to lead one and have the other three follow but that plan didn't work all the time because mules can be stubborn. It was an extremely cold and tedious journey up the mountain.
A great victory was won when Monte la Difensa was in Allied hands and eventually the Allies took the other mountain peaks nearby. Afterward, they tried to catch up to Patton's Army who were at the Battle of the Bulge. They never did find them and Casey's unit was near the Czech border in the spring of 1945 when the news came that the Allies had won the war in the European theater. Today Casey is a decorated war veteran with a bronze star and two purple hearts. In 2013, the United States Congress passed a bill to award the First Special Service Force members the highly prestigious Congressional Gold Medal. By his side will be young author Halie Parkinson of Aledo, Illinois. She is proud to tell his story for young readers.
Another "subject" for the A BOOK by ME Human Rights Series in attendance will be Father Marvin Mottet of Davenport. Father Mottet worked tirelessly on civil rights issues and brought Reverend Martin Luther King Jr to the Quad Cities to speak. In addition, he had Mother Teresa come for an event. He is a social justice champion and his story will be documented by Sophie Jackson of Moline. She is the newest young author in the A BOOK by ME series.
Many young writers and artists will be attending to receive L'dor Vador awards. A major component of Judaism is passing traditions from generation to generation. In Hebrew this is known as L'dor Vador. The young people involved in the A BOOK by ME writing process have assured that important stories of the Holocaust, Human Rights and Heroes will be told to the next generation.
The celebration will include praise for the Scott County Regional Authority as the Jewish Federation received a spring grant allowing the Holocaust Education Committee to donate 2,900 copies of children's books about local subjects from the Holocaust Series. In addition, the celebration will include a number of smaller grants and the fact that over two dozen books in the series are now available on Amazon. To see those available, visitwww.abookbyme.com and see the link on the right hand corner.
WHAT: Red carpet event to celebrate young writers
WHERE: Tri-City Jewish Center Rock Island
WHEN: Sunday, August 234rd 2 pm