ATLANTIC BEACH, Fla. — Every November 11th, we honor thousands of veterans across the First Coast and even millions more across the country.
Taylor Salerno, a 13-year-old from Atlantic Beach, chose to honor veterans, and specifically those who were awarded the Purple Heart, by writing a children's book.
'A Purple Heart Christmas' is a children's book about a young girl who makes a wish on Christmas while visiting family in New York City.
The wish for the character Taylor in the book was to spend a day with her great-grandfather Pat, a veteran who passed away before she was born. And yes, it's based on real life.
Exactly like the character Taylor in the book, real life Taylor wears a Purple Heart pendant necklace every day. And exactly like the book, Taylor's great-grandpa was a real person and was even awarded the Purple Heart in World War II.
"I always wanted to meet him and I thought it was pretty cool hearing all the stories and how he fought for our country," said Salerno.
In real life, Patrick Carmody fought in the Pacific in World War II and was awarded the Purple Heart after diving on the back of a fellow servicemember when a grenade went off during combat in 1944.
Taylor's family has her great-grandfather's Purple Heart to this day and her brother Dylan in the book is also a real person.
We won't tell you how the story ends, you'll have to read the book to find out for yourself, but turning a language arts class project into a book was a process that took Taylor nearly a full year to complete.
"This is actually a lot harder than I thought it would be," said Salerno, "the hardest part was getting it illustrated because I had to make sure that I looked like me, Dylan looked like him or everyone looked like they look like and we had a little trouble having my grandpa look right."
Fortunately the illustrator captured grandpa Mitch and the rest of the characters perfectly. 'A Purple Heart Christmas' takes fun twists and turns on a new story for the holidays, but Taylor has an extra message for kids that goes beyond the story.
"I hope that they learn more about the purple heart and their appreciation for great grandfathers or veterans who fought in the war," said Salerno.
An appreciation for all veterans, especially one near and dear to a young girl's heart.
If you are interested in buying your own copy of 'A Purple Heart Christmas' links to the book are below:
'A Purple Heart Christmas' Website: www.APurpleHeartChristmas.com