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Life IS history in the making. Every word we say, everything we do becomes history the moment it is said or done. Life void of memories leaves nothing but emptiness. For those who might consider history boring, think again: It is who we are, what we do and why we are here. We are certainly individuals in our thoughts and deeds but we all germinated from seeds planted long, long ago.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Missing You - Letters from Wartime

The Importance of Letters
Today we don't think much about writing or receiving hand-written letters. Each seems to be a framed image of the past stored away in our mental scrapbooks. Nowadays communication comes too easy with the push screens of a cell phone and the strokes of a computer keyboard. The words may be the same, sentiments may still be expressed, but what's missing is the intimate touch of pen to paper. 

Words literally penned carry with them not only emotion but the time and effort involved in actually completing the thoughts in personal hand writing. Each stroke of the pen represents a signature thought not to be duplicated by anyone. The intimacy of hand writing is priceless!

There are millions of letters tucked away in attics, locked in dusty trunks, stuffed in Bibles or old books that tell story upon story of the lives, loves and losses during times of war. These letters spell out the hopes and dreams of an end to war. They also document irreplaceable words of the nightmares, horrors and mayhem of war witnessed first hand. 

Step back in time when the pen made its mark on the heart and soul... 
It is 1861 during the time of American Civil War when soldiers encounter the brutality of slavery and struggle with the reasons for war. The distance separating loved ones might as well have spanned thousands of miles across continents and oceans. Communication was sparce and slow. The art of letter writing carried with it the penning of details beyond imagination regarding war. Such letters have preserved some of the most poignant times in American history.

Letters (held at Auckland Museum) written by New Zealand soldiers during the First World War
During World War I, communication to and from home was dependent upon written letters that could take weeks, perhaps months, to arrive at their respective destinations. Loved ones waited in anticipation to hear news of loved ones, whether they were still alive or not. Eloquent correspondence allowed a peek into the strength of undying love.

Image taken at the exhibit at the York Agricultural & Industrial Museum.
When World War I ended, no one had visions of another war lurking in the shadows only two short decades away. As with WWI, World War II distanced families and loved ones by thousands of miles slowing correspondence to what seemed to be a crawl. Soldiers relied on letters from home to boost spirits and ease the pain of sufferings comparable to none ever experienced on the homefront. Of course, loved ones at home cherished a return letter from soldiers on the warfront letting them know all was not lost, they were alive and well, or not so well but at least alive. Love letters bound sweethearts together across the seas or tied the bonds of love cast upon foreign soil.

As the bullet pierces the paper, the words pierce the heart!
Of course, the ending of World War II did not mean the end of war. Less than a decade later, soldiers found themselves again in the midst of turmoil on foreign shores. The Korean War, Vietnam War and Persian Gulf War ensued followed by the Afghanistan and Iraq War still going on today. Every period of war shares it stories of letters home from military men and women as they capture the horrors, pathos and intensity of warfare. As time progresses so does the methodology of war and the modes of correspondence available to keep the lines of communication open. Even though we are in an era of advanced technology, never forget the power of the mighty pen. Penned words are like a sword of truth cutting deep flowing with passion!

Letters from the Civil War
The video below begins with the Civil War (1861) continuing to the Afghanistan and Iraq wars (present day). It passes through World War I (1918), World War II (1944), the Korean War (1951), Vietnam War (1966), and Persian Gulf War (1991). Watch the video with thoughts first only of a person sitting in a military camp, dim to no lighting, possibly cold and damp, maybe in a trench, fear and terrors of war as the backdrop with a parchment of paper and meager pen in hand. Listen to the lettered words and the emotion felt upon writing and reading a hand-written letter. It is not until later in the video where the mode of communication shifts from postal letters to video and telephone. Yet the letter is still an intricate, important part.


Interesting stories of letters from wartime...

Couple whose wartime romance blossomed in 600 love letters celebrate 60 years of marriage

Found: The romantic letters of wartime lovers who used a code to beat the censors

 Write a letter to a soldier today, make his or her day!