As part of Missouri's bicentennial celebration, the latest book by local author Jeremy Amick features the stories of veterans from throughout the state, ranging from the Civil War to more recent conflicts.
Included in "Show-Me Veterans" are the stories of baseball stars Buck O'Neil, Joe Garagiola, Stan Musial and Yogi Berra. On the local level, there are the stories of veterans such as the late Gov. James T. Blair and Milo H. Walz, who founded a well-known furniture business.
"There's over 150 stories in there," Amick said.
Amick got his material from various sources.
"Along with going through books and archives, I spoke to Garagiola's son and Musial's grandson," Amick said. "I worked with the Negro League Museum in Kansas City for information on O'Neil. I had personally done a lot of research on Walz, and I was able to work with Blair's wife for the information on his service."
One of the things that inspired Amick as he put his book together was another history book he found.
"I found the centennial history of Missouri that was published in 1921," Amick said. "It had scores of stories of individuals, not veterans necessarily. The people that were featured contributed to our history."
There were many reasons these people served their country.
"A lot depends on the era," Amick said. "For the folks in World War I and II it was conscription. I found that despite their circumstances, they excelled in their time in the service. They felt they had a duty to perform, and they did it."
Amick was particularly proud to write about a family member in this book — Enoch Enloe Sr., who gave land for Enloe Cemetery in Russellville.
"During the Civil War he he had a fake grave fashioned so he could hide valuables and a weapon to get to because of bushwacker activity," Amick said.
The term "bushwacker" applied to those who swore no allegiance to either side in that conflict and often united into bands of outlaws preying on both sides.
"I loved Yogi's story," Amick said. "During his service in the Navy in World War II, he was hit in the hand. It was not a severe wound, but he never wanted that news to get out because if it did his mother would be worried about him. He was no showboater; he just didn't want to concern his mother."
Amick said Musial had what would be considered a "charmed" naval experience but an interesting one nonetheless.
"While serving, he would play in ballgames for his fellow servicemen," Amick said. "It was there that he adjusted his batting stance so he could hit more home runs to entertain the troops. That later helped him when he got back to playing in the big leagues."
This book is 588 pages. Amick said he had to cut 30 stories he couldn't fit.
"That means I've got material for another book," Amick laughed.
Amick will have a book signing at Downtown Book & Toy II in Capital Mall from noon-3 p.m. June 26.
The book is available for purchase at many area locations, including Samuel's Tuxedos in downtown Jefferson City, Community Point Bank and Covered Bridge Market in Russellville, as well as Sweet Buy & Buy in California.