War Stories from Central Nebraska Community Basis of New Book by UNK Alumna Valerie Vierk

Valerie Vierk
Department of Sociology, Geography and Earth Sciences, 308.865.8505

War stories of soldiers from the Central Nebraska community of Ravenna are captured in a new book by Ravenna native Valerie Lee Vierk.

Vierk, born in Kearney and reared in Ravenna, holds a B.A. in English and a minor in history from the University of Nebraska at Kearney. Since 1984, she has been a departmental secretary on the UNK campus. She is currently the secretary for the Department of Sociology, Geography and Earth Science.

Her book, Gold Stars and Purple Hearts: the War Dead of the Ravenna,Nebraska Area, is a compilation of biographies from local newspaper archives, personal remembrances from the families and friends of the deceased, as well as letters written by the soldiers at war. The work follows 35 young soldiers from the central Nebraska community of Ravenna.

Beginning with the Spanish-American War of 1886, Vierk covers every war through the current war in Iraq. During World War I, approximately 150 soldiers from Ravenna fought for the United States. Among the accounts of World War I veterans is that of one woman, a nurse who went to France. Her name is included on the Ravenna War Memorial along with 139 men. Vierk includes many of the letters written by those soldiers that were published in the local newspaper from the Spanish-American War, World War I, World War II and the Korean Conflict.

Vierk also writes about civilian accounts and events that took place in Ravenna during the war years. Incorporating personal stories of family members who lost their lives at Pearl Harbor, and legendary heroes returning home from war, the author describes the experiences of those citizens remaining in Ravenna.

The section about the Vietnam War follows the lives of five men, but also the author’s perspective as a fifth grader during that time. The book also features 150 photographs and historical sketches of the soldiers and their families. This is Vierk’s first published book.

On Sunday, Dec. 18, Vierk will be signing books at Walden Books, Hilltop Mall, in Kearney.