My current title reads, Jennifer Holik spiritual coach and an intuitive healer specializing in inherited & war trauma, & personal & ancestral healing. I am also a military researcher, speaker, and author. This title is accurate but I like to think of myself as a storyteller. I tell the stories of those who can no longer speak. Through those stories, the writing imparts life lessons, and opens space for closure, forgiveness, and heals both the writer and reader.
World War II research leads people down the path to writing the soldier’s story. The story, I feel, is the most important part of the process. Through writing, we learn not only about our soldier, but also ourselves and those we love.
Military research can be compared to a navigating a spider web. We walk backward in time from the edge of the web, along silk threads which follow the research. No matter which thread we walk, they all eventually connect in the middle as a story.
The soldiers, sailors, and Marines I research for the programs and books I write, and my clients, are individuals. The focus is on what happened to an individual, rather than an entire unit, during World War II. This does not mean I only put a timeline of service together for a soldier and call it done. I place the soldier into historical context. Historical context means examining all the other pieces of his story in the time and place he was, as it relates to the larger story of World War II.
I describe the training, theater of war, battles fought, wounds received, and in many cases, how a soldier died and what came next. All of these details create puzzle pieces which are constantly moved within a gigantic frame to create a colorful masterpiece depicting the soldier’s service.
The living and the dead have stories to tell and seek and offer, forgiveness, closure, and healing. The stories pass lessons to the reader. Investigating the life of our soldier has the potential to open up old wounds we thought were healed. Issues we forgot about or safely tucked into a box we stored in the back of a closet for years. The stories also provide the opportunity to create a space for issues and hurts we didn’t realize we had, to be brought from the darkness into the light.
What do I mean by hurts, wounds, and issues on which we seek or need to extend forgiveness, find closure, and heal?
- A happy veteran who held his story close only until it was the right time and place to tell it to family.
- A child whose father was killed in the war and grew up a war orphan may carry anger toward the father or the enemy or war in general.
- A soldier who survived the war may carry guilt because his buddies were killed or unrecovered and he survived.
- Soldiers battling with nightmares and memories, suffering in what appears to be a family or community which does not understand him.
- A widow who lost the love of her life and had to make new decisions and move on.
- A soldier carrying anger toward the enemy who treated people as subhuman experiments with an end goal of extermination.
- A granddaughter raised hearing stories about her crazy grandfather, while not knowing what he suffered in the war and how that contributed to his diagnosis. Not understanding how it affected the entire family. And not seeing until she was an adult, how her life paralleled that of her grandmother in some ways.
These are just a few examples of things our soldiers and families carry, sometimes subconsciously through several generations.
Can you turn back the clock? Redefine the past and uncreate the horrors of war? No. We can however understand the context in which everything occurred. It does not mean we have to like it, just that we must understand, forgive, let go, and heal.
When we allow ourselves to be open to the process of writing, we may also uncover parallels between the lives of our soldier or family members to our own lives. In essence, we find ourselves IN the story. As we write, we learn we are not alone in our experiences, anger, guilt, happiness, loneliness, fear, and love. Sometimes the lessons are not visible until time passes and we read the story again.
Saving the Stories
Now, we cannot write the story without first doing the research. The research begins with writing down everything we know about our soldier’s service. If the soldier is still with us, asking questions and pouring over old documents and photographs and war memorabilia, in important. Through the recording of information in the first part of research process, we are able to then move forward into individual records and unit records to more fully tell the story.
It is important we begin today. Our veterans are fewer every day and their absence leaves behind holes in our collective memories. Holes which cannot be filled entirely because their voices and stories are now gone. There are also holes in our own stories because to more fully understand our lives, we must understand theirs. The question becomes, what can we do in this moment to capture those stories?
We can begin by talking to our veterans, researching their service and the service of those who have already passed. We can collaborate with other researchers and families to share information, therefore allowing a place for more understanding and healing. And, we can share our stories with the next generation. Together, we can preserve the history of these incredible men and women who helped shape the families and world in which we live today.
Are you interested in personal and ancestral lineage healing?
If you are ready to explore ancestral lineage healing using your genealogy and military records, book a private facilitation session and let’s dive into your past.
Can I Help With Your Research & Writing Projects
If you need help with your WWI – Vietnam research projects or writing projects, I am taking new clients. You can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org to set up a phone call to discuss your projects and what’s possible.
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