Pictures on the Piano: A Family Chronicle of World War II

About the Book

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Alex Stewart has written a story of brothers who went to war and of a family at home whose lives were forever changed by that war, a book for succeeding generations to experience the values by which post-Depression era America lived.

Pictures on the Piano is an “epic tale of war and peace and ordinary lives dislocated by extraordinary circumstances,” writes Nona Hengen, the cover artist, who holds a Master’s degree in History and a Ph.D. in Education. It is “an heroic war story and a tender love story.”

The Stewarts, of Chicago, were a closely knit family, Hengen notes, who lived “by faith rather than fear in the most troubling times, meeting crises with uncommon courage, facing evil tidings with unshakeable serenity, and unspeakable tragedy with quiet dignity.”

Stewart describes his growing up in Chicago during the “roaring twenties” and “dirty thirties,” a warm remembrance of the time. The book “brims” with tales of World War II combat proud successes and honest failures where Stewart served as a B-25 pilot attached to the 12th Air Force in the Mediterranean Theater of War. Stewart flew 63 combat missions in the B-25 Mitchell and was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross and the Air Medal with seven Oak Leaf Clusters.

“What will make it linger in memory and reserve its place among the many excellent accounts of combat and tales of valor told by veterans of World War II is Stewart’s unusual ability to not only describe these events in all their sound and fury and authenticity as he experienced them, but his gift of articulating the range and depth of the powerful emotions the events engendered in expressions to and among members of his family and to his beloved as the war progresses.”

The Author

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Alex Stewart

My Thoughts

Alex Stewart begins the family saga at Ellis Island in 1904, carrying their history up to the outbreak of World War II. All three Stewart brothers are drafted.

Raymond was a medical technician with the 321st Medical Battalion, 96th Infantry Division. Alex was drafted, but was later allowed to become an aviation cadet. He details his flight training before being assigned to the 12th Air Force, 340th Bomb Group, 489th Bomb Squad as a B-25 Mitchell bomber pilot. He flew 63 missions from Corsica against Italy and France, being awarded a Distinguished Flying Cross, and an Air Medal with seven Oak Leaf Clusters.

Pharmacist 3/c David Stewart was drafted by the Marines as a Medical Corpman. He was killed February 19, 1945 on Iwo Jima.

This book demonstrates the essence of “the greatest generation,” and the sacrifices made by this one family.

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