Old Letters from WWII

During our holiday visit with my in-laws, after we had enjoyed mulling over old family photos, my mother-in-law brought out several piles of worn, yellowed envelopes tied together with string—letters written by her father to her mother after he was sent off for duty in WWII. The letters were addressed “To my wife and babies,” as the oldest child was only about five at the time. He worried about his wife left to care for the three children and the farm by herself, and so wrote every two or three days.

I only had time to read a handful of letters, but I know they are all treasures to savor. Not just for the old war-era stamps, the musty antique postcards, the “censored by U.S. Military” markings, but because they hold bits of personal history and the heartfelt handwriting of someone dear. I will be spending my next visits reading through these letters, discovering the man my husband’s grandfather was, and discovering what training and war duty was like from a very personal perspective.

Fortunately PawPaw survived his tour of duty working on a supply ship in the Mediterranean, but he refused to speak of his experiences during the War. Whatever he saw was something he chose to try to blot out of his life. I knew him as a slow-moving, gentle old man in farmers’ overalls, a good-natured man of the earth whose eyes twinkled while he told used jokes I couldn’t help but laugh at. I will be pleased to get to know him better, even though he is no longer with us.

“Make the moments matter, for the memories you give will be with them forever.”

– From 2007 holiday artwork by D. Morgan, used by Veterans of Foreign Wars.

About moonbridgebooks

Co-author of Cherry Blossoms in Twilight, a WWII Japan memoir of her mother's childhood; author of Poems That Come to Mind, for caregivers of dementia patients; Co-author/Editor of Battlefield Doc, a medic's memoir of combat duty during the Korean War; life writing enthusiast; loves history and culture (especially Japan), poetry, and cats
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4 Responses to Old Letters from WWII

  1. I love old letters. a lost art that we can begin with our children. what is new now will become old later.

  2. Linda Austin says:

    It is sad that hand-written letters have become a lost art. Email letters just aren’t the same.

  3. As you probably remember, my father gave me letters he’d written during the war. They are so much more than just war letters. There are expressions no longer used, daily concerns of that time, and references to things at home that are no longer a part of our everyday lives. They are truly a tiny snapshot of life. Treasure those letters. We should all leave such a treasure for our loved ones. ~Karen

  4. Linda Austin says:

    Yes, Karen, I thought of you! I’m looking forward to reading more of them my next visit, which is soon.

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