Staff Sergeant David J. Lemal is a war hero. Serving as a tail-gunner in a B-29 during World War II, he fought for his country in the skies of Japan. Every mission was a battle for survival. Those battles remained private memories, until he shared them with his daughter, nearly seventy years after they were fought. In his stories are echoes of footsteps of those who put a cause, country and principle above their own lives.
David came home from the war with decorations for his brave service and returned to his job at Standard Press Steel as a tool and die maker and plant layout engineer, where he worked until he retired.
David’s avocations have included skiing, gardening, fishing, hunting, boating, woodworking, photography, motorcycles, gun-smithing, train-crafting and building/flying model airplanes. Skiing ranked first and David skied until he was eighty-one.
With his camera he photographed flowers and studied plant anatomy. With his microscope he studied microbes in local creeks and he has a vast knowledge of local flora and fauna. David reads constantly and there are few subjects in which he is not conversant.
David met Eileen Fornwalt in 1946 and sold his beloved Indian motorcycle to buy her engagement ring. She has been his beloved wife since June 19, 1948.
David and Eileen’s daughter, Charlene, authored this war journey to honor her father. He taught her to listen to the wind, to develop relationship with the plants, to ski on the wild side, to care for the planet and love something more than oneself. He taught her the meaning of service by living it. David’s lessons were learned from his mother Lida.
Staff Sergeant David J. Lemal represents a generation of impenetrable resilience and fortitude. He is one of a golden era of principles and hope that defines adversity as the opportunity to seek and find the brightest star in the sky.
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Letters to Lida took four years to write. Dad read aloud every one of the 150 letters he wrote to his mother during the war. After reading each letter he reflected on the events and what really happened that was omitted from the letters. In his frequent quiet contemplations after reading a letter, it was quite apparent to me that war is never over.
For me, writing Letters to Lida was a journey through WWII through the eyes of my father as a young man.
For Dad, the book was an opportunity to visit what had been consciously tucked away for 70 years.
Charlene Briggs is an environmental scientist and educator. She teaches the Science of Sustainable Design at Temple University as an adjunct professor. To promote ecological literacy, she facilitates the development of outdoor classrooms, local food networks and sustainable landscapes.
Charlene previously worked in water quality assessment for EPA, conservation easement monitoring for the Brandywine Conservancy, as scientist-in-residence in the public schools and as the Executive Director of the Chester County, PA Land Preservation Program and Agricultural Development Council. Charlene co-created/owned the Lionville Natural Pharmacy Health Food Store.
For more on Education for Sustainability visit Earth Visions Consulting at www.EarthVisionsConsulting.com
Charlene is one of 110 Internationally Registered Bach Flower Essence Practitioners. In her Flower Essence Therapy practice, Botanical Energetics, she uses integrative plant medicine to help individuals and families relieve stress, heal trauma and restore emotional balance and vitality.
Charlene collaborated with her father, David J. Lemal, to share his story in Letters to Lida.
Here is a feature my publisher wrote about me and Letters to Lida:
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