I Almost Missed this Freedom Rock® Book “Selfie”

This was posted on July 2021, but I didn’t notice the book in one of the photos. I didn’t even think about taking one there with Leora’s Letters.

From Steve Simpson and Jimmie Kitzman, on Facebook:

“First of all, our apologies to Joy for coming to your book a bit late . . . it was worth the wait! As a complete work, this book deserves National recognition. This book is one story, and many stories all at the same time. Told in the words of its own heroes (you hear their voices in their letters) it totally captures & preserves that moment in American & World history of the early 1940’s ~ from the isolated mid-west farm to the farthest reaches around the globe.

“For all of you Dallas County natives, this is a MUST read ~ we guarantee it will touch a personal spot in your heart. A real treasure! LEORA’S LETTERS by Joy Neal Kidney.

“A story while we were at the rock in Minburn: a young-ish couple stopped and when they noticed the copy of the book I was holding, they wanted to know the story. We barely got three words out before they took over with “Oh, yeah, they made a movie about this, Saving Private Ryan, and these brothers are actually from northern Iowa, and, oh yeah, there’s even a song about this …blah blah blah”. When they FINALLY came up for air (from all of their misinformation), we proceeded to set them straight.

“As we walked away and left them staring at the rock, we were hearing a lot of “WOWS” as they were processing what we had shared . . . I think they were literally making an online purchase of the book by the time we got to our car.

“It was a great moment.”

Many Iowans, when they hear “five brothers,” think of the Sullivan brothers from Waterloo, who were all lost on the same ship in 1942. Books have been written about them and movies made, along with a wing in a museum in Waterloo.

The Wilson brothers weren’t remembered until 2019, when the Dallas County Freedom Rock® was dedicated, and five weeks later, Leora’s Letters: The Story of Love and Loss for an Iowa Family During World War II was published.

I’m thankful and humbled by this compelling selfie and note!

More about Iowa’s Freedom Rocks.

Also from Steve and Jimmie, about Leora’s Dexter Stories: “GET THIS BOOK! If I was a rich eccentric I would buy 100 copies and distribute them … but I’m afraid I am just a poor eccentric enrichened by a good read ~ and in this case, another TREASURE. So get your assignment done kids ~ there may or may not be a quiz later . . . but we know you will thank us anyway.”


  1. For every “famous” story there are numerous other less known stories that are nonetheless important to tell. One of the best examples is the contrast between the Sullivan boys’ story and your relatives’ stories. Thank you for telling it!

  2. This is a wonderful account! It’s a pleasure to read about the respect that is generated for your family’s veterans, and others who served at that time, because of your book.

    • Thank you, Nancy. Also because of Iowa’s Freedom Rocks. The Dallas County Freedom Rock, will all five brothers remembered, was dedicated just five weeks before the book came home! lump in throat

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