History of World War Two Told Through Letters
Yesterday was Veteran’s Day! This day commemorates the WWI armistice on November 11, 1919. It has a bit of a funny history, I’ve learned today. Originally deemed Armistice Day to honor the peace achieved at the end of WWI, it was changed to Veterans Day in 1954 to commemorate all veterans (like, oh say….. WWII and Korean War vets). Then, in 1968 the Federal Government passed a law to hold Veterans Day on a Monday (along with Washington’s Birthday, Columbus Day and Memorial Day) to ensure everyone three day weekends. This caused a lot of confusion because some states did not agree with the law due to the specific dates’ historical importance. In the mid-70s it was changed back to it’s original date and is still celebrated on November 11th.
Veterans Day has its historical roots but to so many families with relatives who are currently involved in conflicts around the world it is an opportunity to keep their efforts in our thoughts and hope for a safe and happy return home.
Here is very optimistic letter from Alex on November 10th, 1943. I find this letter very heartwarming and thoughtful. I really enjoy that he set up the atmosphere at the beginning of the letter. The Italian Symphony is playing and just a few men sitting around. The letters that are written when Alex had more time are so rich and textured. Enjoy:
My dear woman
I don’t want to build to many hopes but so far there was no draft for me and if it goes on like this till Saturday then I shall embrace you.
This letter is being written at the music room of ship service and right now they are playing the Italian symphony by Mendelson [sic] and the environment is very pleasant. There are here but fifteen people among them two waves of mediocre looks. Some of the boys are making eyes at them while listening. There is very little that they can do besides.
I had a pleasant day today They caught up with me and I’ve got the job with two other to clean the barracs of the Chief P.O. L (?) I’ve made twenty beds and cleaned the furniture and floors, and also was the boss of the gang, but you know your old man, he can’t see others work and him do nothing, so I did my share.
My darling, your letter reached me and please don’t get into any ruts. The things go life will be yet pleasant. I could cry of rejoicing of the advances on the fronts. I am following the papers very closely and somehow I feel kinship to the sons of Polemkins. I only hope that I can see the white of their eyes of a fascist and be able to do something about it.
Maybe it is Mendelsohn that makes me feel this way but I feel exhilarated by the news and towards the outlook of the future. I’ve read Nehlson’s speech in the tribune and its grand. Also Stalin’s, five and the tremendous rooster [sic] of names at Madison Square Garden and the Congress, all this is heralding better times for us.
Rosenthal is sick. He has been taken to sick bay. He’s not eaten since he got here. It’s tragic how depressed he is and unable to snap out of it. We are trying to do something for him, but nothing avails. Well darling you can be proud of your old man he is one of the most respected men Sampson.
I was on a four hour watch out on the road. Our orders are “to salute all officers and standards not cased. “ So your good sailor, with real Schweik dignity planted himself in the middle of the wad and sow to it that he saluted every officer that passed by on foot or in car. Sometimes tree [sic, three] at a time, and of course insisted with his hand up at his cap that the salute was returned. The usual procedure, of course, is to turn your back whenever any car comes by, to the great relief of the occupants, who care as much about returning the salute as you in giving it. Well duty is duty. I am sure the Navy is proud of me.
Walsh is sitting near by, that nice boy we met that night going to the movies with his buddies and he sends his warmest regards, he is a fine boy, unspoiled.
Schulman told me about you having gone out with his wife and I would like to see you make nice friends like them. I see him, of course we are not any more in the same barracs but when we are free we always manage to get together.
I am glad you’ve seen Northern Star, if I get to New Fork I’ll see it with you on the week-end, OK? I’ve read the reviews and I was really pleased that Hollywood did such [a] fine job. Everything seems to look more rosier now a days, I don’t know why, but just let it keep it up.
Poor little Cookie, the only thing she gives you is rainbows? What color combination, darling? Did she develop any new tricks since I left? I hope while ashore I am located near you and her, we could have such swell times.
Some of the boys are predicting Shore Patrol for me. If so, if they give me a four hour watch around a neighborhood in Brooklyn or Times Square, I’d just call you up and you could walk with me on the route and see how I beef the fobs on the lad! (??)
With that pleasant thought I’ll close till tomorrow night. Meanwhile have my kisses and hope, that I’ll see you Saturday night. My love to you and baby my darling.