Pampa-native writes children’s book about honoring veterans
Pampa-native Greg Easley has spent his life around veterans and as he continues to instill values honoring veterans into his daughters, it inspired him to turn those values into his children’s book “If You Meet a Veteran.”
“I had watched my daughters Olivia and Harper do what my wife and I had taught them about when they see a veteran in public,” Easley said. “You approach them and let them know how much we care about them and appreciate what they had done for us. I had watched them do that a couple of times at restaurants or grocery stores.”
Easley, who lives in McKinney, wrote a poem about the idea and when he first wrote it he didn’t intend to do much else with the poem. In the spring of 2020 at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, it became a larger project.
Not only was it written by Easley, but he did the illustrating, also.
“I had gotten a Microsoft Surface Pro and had started dabbling in digital illustrations,” Easley said. “I had always been into art but that was my first time to have a device where I could do illustrating. That’s when I returned to the project and remembered I had written that piece some months before.”
As it began to shape into the illustrated children’s book, Easley looked into the publishing process to find the best path to putting the books on the shelves.
“I read several different blogs about pros and cons of doing both (self-publishing or through a publishing company),” Easley said. “I reached out to a company called Liberty Hill and they seemed like a good fit and I spoke to them for a while. It was a pretty smooth process, submitted the manuscripts and the illustrations and over the summer it was ready and published in the late summer.”
Being a high school teacher at Prosper High School with two young daughters, Easley was able to write the children’s book by keeping his daughters in mind.
“It was a challenge but it was mainly my experience as a dad and having two little girls that are four and seven years old,” Easley said. “As my oldest one began to understand what I was saying I tried my hardest to make her understand the very idea of what my book is about: who veterans are, how they served our country and what that means being able to sacrifice for it.
“It’s a very abstract idea to have men and women in uniform willing to protect our country and our country’s ideas. I want them to be able to understand when you see people in uniform, wearing veterans’ hats/t-shirts, biker jackets and that stuff for them to be able know what that means and who they are. It was a challenge to write it on a level that could be understood by a four or five-year-old.”
Easley said that being a teacher helped him because history teachers are used to taking ideas from history and helping a teenager relate to the concept.
“This was kind of a similar process but on a different level,” Easley said. “It was taking something from the adult world and simplify so a child could understand.”
Easley has veterans in his family and remembers his parents emphasizing honoring veterans growing up.
“I remember my parents always encouraging me on Veterans Day to thank veterans,” Easley said. “But, for whatever reason, it was always an issue close to my heart. Both of my grandfathers were veterans. They both passed away before I was born so I never got to meet them. Because of that I always viewed other veterans as someone I wanted to be close to because I never got to do that with my grandfathers.”
As a history enthusiast, Easley had read so much about the wars/conflicts over history that he had a greater awareness and appreciation for the veterans.
“If You Meet a Veteran” is available directly through the publisher, Liberty Hill, but also on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, etc. The book is ranged for kindergarten through fifth but Easley recommends second through fourth grade.
Part of the proceeds of sales have been and will continue to go to the Gary Sinise Foundation. They are building a specially adapted smart home for a disabled veteran and his family in Boerne.
There is a Facebook page that has been created for the book and Easley encourages those who meet veterans in public to snap a picture with them, e-mail it to firstname.lastname@example.org and they could be shared on the page.
Easley wanted to thank all of the veterans who have served this country, especially the ones in Pampa.
“I want to thank all of the veterans in Pampa, the ones that came and spoke to my classes and at the local VFW chapter,” Easley said. “Also the Freedom Museum. Those guys (the veterans) were my heroes and were the ones I think of when I think of veterans and are at the front of my mind.”