Life is often quiet and simpler in small rural towns, yet war has consistently disrupted that life. Many men from our small towns and farms have left to fight for our country, and while some didn’t return, those who did have never forgotten what they’ve experienced. A local author has recently published a collection of their stories titled, “Uncommon Valor was a Common Virtue: Stories of Everyday People at War.”
Darrell Alleman of Granville began writing veteran stories in 2005 after being asked by the newspaper to profile a local Vietnam veteran for Memorial Day.
“I’d been writing stories for many years for the Granville Rotary, as well as for the Marshall-Putnam Fair and the Putnam County Republican Party,” Alleman said.
A local Vietnam veteran had recently shared his story with the Granville Rotary, so Alleman immediately knew who to approach.
“I’ve always had the greatest respect for all veterans,” Alleman said. “I felt good after writing that story, so I started interviewing more and more veterans, but I’d never thought about writing a book.”
Alleman’s wife, Jeanne, who edited his writing, provided the needed encouragement to turn the 317 short stories into a book.
He said many of his friends are veterans, and while not a veteran himself, he said they often joke he’s one of them.
“I was married in January of 1951 and received my draft notice in March. Korea was very active then. We were living in Tonica at the time, and all the Tonica boys went off to war, and I was the only one sent home,” Alleman said.
Rheumatic fever at age 14 had left him with a heart murmur and diabetes.
“I was called up twice more and eventually received a 4-F card which was terribly embarrassing. I would’ve liked to have gone, but I would’ve hated to leave my wife too,” he said.
Alleman has spent his entire life within a 14-mile area between Tonica and Granville. He farmed the same land near Magnolia for 49 years before moving back to Granville, and he knows the area and its people well.
He said, “The common thread in all these stories is they’re all ordinary people, just like you and I, but they left their homes and families for years, and some never came back.”
He also said he’s seen no differences in the veterans from World War II up to the modern conflicts of Iraq and Afghanistan, saying, “Everyone said, ‘War is hell,” and there isn’t one who doesn’t fly the flag at their home because they’ve all seen their friends die in war. They’ve all seen so much, and I’m very thankful to them for sharing their stories with me.”
Alleman said he’s been approached by the Putnam County Library to present a program about his collected stories, and while he hasn’t confirmed yet, he’s considering it. He also said he plans to donate copies of his book to the county’s libraries.
For more information or to purchase a copy, priced at $40, call Darrell Alleman at 815-339-6564.