The author event is their biggest fundraiser, and one of the most anticipated local events of the year. Over the years they've brought in some literary heavy hitters, including Ray Bradbury, Chaim Potok, Shelby Foote, George Plimpton, Sandra Cisneros, Stehpen Ambrose, Jon Krakauer, Tim O'Brien, Geraldine Brooks, Daniel Handler aka Lemony Snicket, Stephan Venables, Alexander McCall Smith, Billy Collins, Ken Burns, Amy Tan, and David McCullough. I was lucky enough to serve on the foundation's board of directors for six years and had the opportunity to personally meet many of the authors.
This year's featured author was Rick Atkinson, a three time Pulitzer Prize winner and a military historian. He wrote the bestseller An Army at Dawn, the first book in a trilogy about the history of the American Army in North Africa, Italy and Western Europe during World War II. Coincidentally, the event happened on the 70th anniversay of Operation Torch, when U.S. and British forces invaded North Africa. For a history nerd like myself, I loved the historical significance!
The banquet room was decorated in a patriotic theme, with an amazing private collection of authentic period military uniforms and other artifacts on display. Local WWII veterans were invited as special guests that evening. One of the highlights was the recognition given to a local 95-year old WWII veteran, who was there in his full dress uniform. Yes, it still fit! Here's a link to a story about him. foundation-salutes-north-ogden-veteran.
World War II was of such historical significance to the U.S. and the world. As Rick Atkinson pointed out that evening, veterans of WWII are dying at a rapid pace, and it's important that younger generations hear their stories, so that we understand our own history and can pass on their stories and experiences to subsequent generations.
Of course, Gillian wasn't as enthralled with the message as I was. She started the evening in high spirits, excited to be wearing a new dress with sequins on the bodice and a chiffon skirt. She of course needed appropriate shoes, and borrowed my black patent leather peep-toe pumps. The fancy dress meant she couldn't carry just any old purse either, so she also borrowed one of my evening bags. It happened to be the one that I planned on carrying, so she ended carrying one purse for both of us. That's one benefit of taking my daughter along to functions with me--I don't have to worry about juggling a purse along with my cocktail!
Before the salad course was finished, she was bored and looking for distraction. Even the novelty of butter balls (which according to her indicates we're at a "really fancy event") wasn't enough to keep her entertained. I guess she'd expected a more light-hearted evening, since two years ago she went with us to see Lemony Snicket and we all laughed so hard we cried. So much for my hope of enhancing her historical education by exposing her to a well-known and respected author and historian. I gave in and handed over my iPhone so she could entertain herself playing games. Oh well, hopefully someday she'll remember the experience, and maybe even pay a little extra attention when she's learning about World War II history in school. Sometimes it takes years before exposure to such educational things actually clicks and causes a lightbulb to turn on inside our heads.
I wish I'd gotten a picture of the three of us all dressed up. We all clean up pretty well, if I do say so myself. Here's a picture of us at another recent fundraiser for the local Boys & Girls Club. It was more Gillian's speed, as it was super casual and featured a photo booth with props! It's fun being able to take her with me to some of the many social events I go to throughout the year. I joke that I'm a professional seat filler, and I can work a silent auction like nobody's business! Besides learning how to make the winning bid at silent auctions, Gillian's also learning some social graces, along with being exposed to influential people in the community and causes that are important to me.
Not very long ago, Gillian would play in my closet, trying on my high heels and dresses while I got ready for an evening out. Now she's wearing those same high heels out, going along with me instead of staying home with a sitter. My mom pointed out to me what a fun, amazing age Gillian is at right now. On Thursday night she was thrilled to be getting dressed up and going to a grown-up event. Having the right dress, purse and shoes was critical! The next night, she proudly posted this picture of a blanket fort she and her friend made. I love the contrast, and I love that she's still at an age where she can enjoy both, because I know it won't last forever.