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What do you think of when you think about Independence Day?  Many patriotic
feelings are evoked when remembering all of those who have died in battle
defending America, as well as those who are currently serving our great
country.  We recently honored those who fought and died sixty years ago
during "...the greatest invasion the world has ever seen."
"A Day That Changed America: D-Day, They Fought to Free Europe from Hitler's
Tyranny", by Shelley Tanaka, is the gripping account of what happened to
four survivors who served as paratrooper, infantryman, fighter pilot and
combat medic.  The true-life stories of these men will take you through the
time leading up to "Operation Overload", as the military called it. After
reading about the death defying experiences that each young man has, you
will be amazed at their courage and their will to survive and follow orders.

One young paratrooper, was 20 year old Don Jakeway. Just two years before
joining the service, he was helping out on his Ohio farm, and now he was
ready to make a jump out of a plane where the risks of dieing outweighed
those of living.  Just when he was about to jump, the Nazi's had received
word of the planes overhead and began shooting at them. Don fell amongst
enemy fire. Luckily, he was able to land without being hit, and amazingly he
didn't land in water so deep where the chance of drowning was great. (He had
many heavy items, including a heavy artillery rifle, that weighed him down.)
But, his worries had just begun. He had no way of radioing his commander or
fellow squad members because the equipment became waterlogged.  He could
hear German soldiers everywhere. How could he escape and locate his unit?
Many stories like this are buried on a hill in France where there are scores
and scores of white crosses - 9,386 to be exact. Stories like this make me
proud to be an American! And this book, with original paintings by David
Craig, as well as historical photos, maps and diagrams, will make any
American reflect once again on the great sacrifices many individuals make to
keep our country a great democracy! This book will be good for ages 10 and
older.

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Here is a book that describes what makes our country so great - "We Are
Americans: Voices of the Immigrant Experience", by Dorothy and Thomas
Hoobler. This book is filled with authentic stories, pictures, journal
entries, letters and biographical sidelines. There are stories that will
make your child appreciate all the comforts that we have today, as many of
the early immigrants lived in harsh conditions. There's one account of a
young woman as she traveled over the Atlantic from Switzerland back in the
mid 1800's. Her lodging in the ship was shared by all passengers. They had a
roof over their heads, but otherwise, all sides were exposed to the
elements. When a passenger was told to cook, you cooked. If you let the fire
go out (the only way to keep warm in terrible weather), it wouldn't be relit
until the next meal. The chapters take you from the Native Americans through
to modern day immigration.  This book will surely have your child asking
about their ancestors and their country of origin.   This will be great for
ages 12 and up.

You can't think about Independence Day without contemplating life back in
colonial times.  To fully appreciate and understand life back in the 1600's,
Betsy and Giulio Maestro have written and illustrated a picture book that
will really give ages 7 though adults an incredible understanding of life
back in the very early days of life in America.

Part of the July 4th tradition is to fly the American Flag. "Stars and
Stripes: The Story of the American Flag", by Sarah L. Thomson and
illustrated by Bob Dacey and Debra Bandelin, gives an historical account of
how the flag came to be and what it represents. The beautifully painted
pictures fill each page with vibrant color.

A picture book that culminates all that our country stands for reflects the
words of the patriotic song by Katharine Lee Bates. "America The Beautiful"
has extraordinary pictures painted by Chris Gall. He's a descendant of Ms.
Bates and has illustrated in an amazing way by engraving clay-coated boards
and then digitizing them. This book will be enjoyed by all ages.