It was my experience growing up with a WWII Navy-veteran father that soldiers didn’t talk much about their military experiences – at least, not my Dad. He sometimes shared stories about the men he served with, but not much about the combat.

In the next few weeks, two soldier stories will be told at Washington County Library.

At 7 p.m. Tuesday, January 29 in Woodbury’s City Center Amphitheater, local author John Kriesel will discuss his book, “Still Standing”, as a part of the Library’s annual One County, One Book reading event, a time when county residents are all encouraged to read the same title and talk about it. 

SSG Kriesel was serving in Iraq in 2006 when he and two fellow soldiers were hit by a roadside bomb. His buddies died. Kriesel was gravely wounded, but survived despite losing both legs. Kriesel’s story is not just about the combat action that caused his wounds, but about the resiliency it took to survive.  He expresses gratitude for the quick action of fellow soldiers and the skilled medical care that kept him alive, together with the unqualified support of family and friends that kept him going.

Audience members will be inspired by Kriesel’s ability to deal with adversity, and his ability to move forward in life. Hear about his accomplishments following recovery, and find out what he’s doing now.    

Just a few days later, at 2 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 2 at the Park Grove Library in Cottage Gove, another event takes place — the performance of local folk singer and songwriter Charlie Maguire. Maguire has a soldier story, too. It’s a story about how a song that he wrote and performed became an inspiration to a young MN soldier. I read about it in an October 29, 2005 Star Tribune article by Doug Grow. It seems that the MN soldier first heard Maguire’s song “When’s That Train a-Coming?” when he was in grade school. While in Iraq, the MN soldier sang the song in tense times. It helped get him through.

I’m hoping Charlie Maguire will tell that “soldier story” to his audience on Feb. 2, and sing the song.

It’s important that soldier stories are told. You’re invited to hear these two stories first-hand. We can count ourselves extremely fortunate for the work of our soldiers and their sacrifices that help to keep us safe and free.

Library Woman is Joey Halbach, Community Relations Librarian for Washington County Library. Contact her at: