I am rereading a wonderful book. It is War Letters edited by Andrew Carroll. The book is a collection of letters, giving special insight into the Civil War, World War I and II, Vietnam, Korea, the Cold War, and the Persian Gulf. It contains priceless, first-hand accounts of the Battles of Antietam and Gettysburg, the bombing of Pearl Harbor, the Port Chicago explosion, and many more. What struck me this week in the midst of all the tragic stories were the tender letters sent home by soldiers to their families. Here are a few of the best! They will touch your heart.
“Patience what shall I write you? Shall it be more word of friendship? Oh no, my heart prompts my pen to the most wedded love. If I had never known you that flame would have been unkindled in this bosom but once set burning it will burn forever. You are associated with every thought and every action of my existence. Last night while lying on the parapet (for I slept there) viewing the starry heavens, I almost lived over the last two years. They were associated with many happy recollections. There was but one solitary cloud to mar my future happiness (this bloody war) and I hope very soon it will be dissolved. I will then be the happiest of the happy.”
Sgt. Maj. James Black, Civil War soldier, writing to his wife Patience. After the war, he returned home to his family.
“My girl, my girl, how I do miss you. I didn’t think it possible for one to be possessed of the longing I have for you. At night I lay awake and think and think of you, the roar of the big guns, giving way before the press of mental pictures of you. I go back and retravel again the entire road that we have known together.”
2nd Lt. Francis M. Tracy, World War I soldier, writing to his wife Gertrude. He was killed in action September 27, 1918.
Momie & Dad: It is pretty hard to check out this way with out a fighting chance but we can’t live forever. I’m not afraid to die. I just hate the thought of not seeing you again. Buy Turkey Ranch with my money and just think of me often while your there. Make liberal donations to both sisters. See that Gary has a new car his first year of hi-school.”
Lt. Tommie Kennedy, World War II soldier, writing to his parents. He died a prisoner of war in 1945.