Like most of the men from Greatest Generation, my grandfather is stoic, never asking for credit, accolades, or attention. He fought in WWII and went years without seeing his family. For decades he kept a schedule that would break many men living in my generation. Rising before the sun, he pulled a shift in a canning factory, coming home in the afternoon to farm till after dark. A few hours rest and then up again. The unfortunate consequence though, of the stoic life, is that you rarely receive glimpses into the heart.
In March of 1944, my Grandpa was stationed on the other side of the world in New Guinea. During that time he penned this tender letter to his firstborn. He was blessed to return home when many did not. I share an exerpt from this letter because it captures the common voice of his generation. Read it and remember those who have lost their lives, not in vain. Read it to remember their spirit of perserverance. Read it and be humbled for how blessed we are.
Thanks and blessings to all those who have and do serve!
March 30, 1944
Well I guess it’s about time I was answering your letter…I got your pictures the other day and could hardly believe you were that big…you sure are growing up in a hurry. Every picture I see of you, you have a big smile and here I am frowning all the time and giving someone the dickens. They tell me you like your bracelet. Maybe someday I’ll get time to make you a better one.
I don’t know when I’ll get to see you. You see there’s a lot of people in this world that aren’t as happy as you always are. So I’m away over here helping to make them behave so you and all the other boys and girls will have a decent place to live in. There’s a lot of fathers that will never get home to see their sons, but they know what they are fighting for and that someday you will all realize what we have done for you.
You mother writes and tells me all about you and what you do, but she doesn’t say much about what she does…Did you ever notice how pretty she is? I think she the most beautiful angel in the world and you and I are pretty lucky to have such a sweet wife and mother…You just listen to what she says and one day you’ll be a real man. I think she’s pretty brave staying alone like she does but of course you are big enough to take care of her. One of these days I’ll be home and then we’ll really have a time and enjoy life together…Kiss mother twice every night and morning, once for you and once for me.
Lots of love,