Throughout World War II, hundred of thousands of families awaited letters from their loved ones. Theirs was not a pandemic with social distancing…many of their sons, brothers, husbands, and dear friends were so much further removed.
This random sampling from a host of letters saved by a woman who eagerly kept watch on her mailbox gives an idea of the way an Iowa soldier moved around. Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri, Olympia, Washington, and in 1945, the generic U.S. Army A.P.0. That postmark might have meant almost any location, but in ’45, possibly Japan, where fierce battles still raged.
And so, with no alternative loving hearts waited and prayed.
Letters play a significant role in my novels, not necessarily by plan or forethought. But as characters’ lives have developed, written correspondence with paper and ink were so much a part of life in those fretful days. Letters arrived and replies were sent. The process took weeks or even months, and many of the messages were censored. That’s just the way it was.
For those who have missed out on the joy of receiving a handwritten missal, the importance of letter-writing may be difficult to imagine. That’s a part of entering into the Greatest Generation’s daily lives, fears, hopes and joys.