Susan Hadler May 18, 2015
Susan Hadler

Susan Johnson Hadler

Interview by Caitlin Hamilton Summie

How hard was it to write this book?  The hardest part was fear of upsetting my family.  The first book I wrote, Lost in the Victory, which I co-authored with Ann Mix, touched my mother’s deep, deep pain at the death of her husband in WWII.  The family circled its wagons around Mother, and I was cut off from them for several years.  This time I was very careful to give everyone the chance to read the manuscript.  Their enthusiasm and help was indescribably precious to me and a source of encouragement beyond anything I could imagine.  I would have written it all down for my children and myself without their acceptance, but their trust and support kept me going all the way to a book.

Dave Johnson May, 1942

Dave Johnson
May, 1942

My father was 25 when he was killed in WWII.  I knew him only through the letter he wrote from Camp Lucky Strike on the north coast of France in the winter of ’45 to welcome me into the world.  The love in that letter lived inside of me until I began to search for him several years ago.  During the search I visited Luxembourg where his name is engraved on the Wall of Missing.  Now there is a marker with his name and the dates of his short life at Arlington Cemetery.


“Peace, salaam, shalom,” we sang as about 200,000 of us walked to the White House on September 24, 2005, a strong showing for peace in Iraq.  I was among those who were voluntarily arrested.  The article in the Mindfulness Bell tells the story of that day and night:


Under “Search,” type in the title:  PEACE, SALAAM, SHALOM.

P1020058Ancient themes of loss and return are at play in the form of my father who was “lost” in WWII.  After a lifetime of sorrow I see his smile in a little boy happily picking up leaves and giving them to his mother during a day of mindfulness and write of this experience in the Mindfulness Bell:


Under “Search,” type in the title, MY FATHER’S SMILE.

Almost everyone inherits some form of trouble from past generations.  I was born into a family with missing people, the result of war, family feuds and mental illness.  The door to information about them was locked and I didn’t have the key.  Who were they?  What happened to them?  Where were they?  Did I look like any of them?

Lost in the VictoryBased on interviews with 25 people whose fathers died in WWII, Lost in the Victory breaks the silence surrounding mention of the death of fathers in war by telling the stories of growing up in the shadow of their father’s death.

The voices in this book belong to sons and daughters who for half a century have seldom spoken of their fathers, or of their own lives after the deaths of their fathers.  At a young age, they learned to keep quiet about such things, and only with great reticence have they now been able to discuss their loss and its impact on their lives.