Photo by Morris Stephenson:
Daina Kubasak holds a copy of the book, “The Beauty and The Sorrow: An Intimate History of the First World War,” written by Swedish author Peter Englund. Published in 2008 and translated into English in 2011, the book is dedicated to Army Corp. Jared W. Kubasak, who was killed in Iraq on Dec. 12, 2005.
Wednesday, September 12, 2012
By MORRIS STEPHENSON - Special to the News-Post
As the result of a chance 2005 meeting in Iraq, Swedish writer and historian Peter Englund has dedicated one of his books to the late Army Cpl. Jared W. Kubasak, a Franklin County native who was killed in action near Baghdad on Dec. 12 of the same year.
Before his death, the soldier, son of Darel and Daina Kubasak, had never mentioned to his parents that he had met the author.
They learned of the meeting about three years ago when they received a mysterious envelope.
The large brown envelope was addressed to "Mr. and Mrs. Kubasak (Parents of Jared Kubasak), Rocky Mount, Va., USA." That's all the sender had written on the envelope.
"The postage stamps were foreign and there was no return address," she said, displaying the front of the envelope she had saved.
Inside the package was a framed color photograph of her son. It was taken from inside the special Humvee vehicle used by Kubasak and the crew of soldiers.
In the center of the photograph is Kubasak, standing inside the vehicle and wearing a helmet. He is apparently at his position, behind a machine gun, the vehicle's main weapon.
Also included was a note from Peter Englund explaining who he was and that he had met their son while embedded with Jared's 2nd Armored Calvary Regiment in Iraq earlier in the year.
Englund said a photographer assigned with him had taken the photograph and he had others of Jared if the family would like to have them.
Daina Kubasak got back in touch with Englund via email and later the couple received three more pictures of their son, which they said they cherish along with all the others they have.
Kubasak has included all four in a special collection of color pictures of their son while serving in the Army.
But last month, the Kubasaks received another surprise package in the mail.
This one contained a copy of Englund's book, "The Beauty and The Sorrow: An Intimate History of the First World War."
"Receiving the book came as a complete surprise to us," she said. "We had no idea why we were receiving it or who sent it until we recognized the name of the author."
Glancing through the book, the couple saw some WW I photos in the center section, still puzzled why he sent a copy of the book to them.
But Englund had enclosed a note on a card.
"It wasn't until we read the card that we learned that the book was dedicated to Jared," she said.
The dedication page reads: "This book is dedicated to the memory of Corp. Jared W. Kubasak whom I met in the fall of 2005 while embedded with the 2nd Armored Calvary Regiment in Iraq and who was killed there in action on Dec. 12th the same year."
"I guess the two met and spent some time together," Daina Kubasak said. "Apparently our son must have made an impression on him. I only wish I knew more about it. I mean, this man is a writer from Sweden. I'm just amazed!"
Kubasak used email to try to thank Englund for the book and its dedication, but the address she used was no longer active.
However, a search of the internet was successful and her second email reached its destination.
Englund answered the email later, explaining that he had been away for the summer and had just returned and was getting around to answering emails.
"I hope that those few words in the beginning of the book will make it a little bit harder for other people to forget him," he said in the email.
After receiving the book, Kubasak said she searched the internet for more information about the author as well as the book.
It was first published in Sweden in 2008. It wasn't translated into the English language until last year. Since its release, the book has been sold in 16 foreign countries.
The couple learned that Englund, 55, is a member of the Swedish Academy, which is known internationally as the organization that hands out the Nobel Prize for Literature, according to his autobiography website.
He is also a well-known lecturer, and has won numerous awards for his work.
"It's truly amazing having a Swedish author dedicate his book to our son," Kubasak said. "This is a great honor. And to think it's being sold in 16 countries."
Those countries include the United States, Great Britain, Germany, Holland, France, Spain, Russia, Italy, Poland, South Korea and Brazil. The book has received outstanding reviews.
"There are so many questions we have," she added. "I would love to sit down with him and see if he has any stories to tell about Jared...maybe one day."