Sunday, December 11, 2011

Letters from World War II

From September 1943 until March 1945, my grandfather wrote a letter to my grandmother almost every other day. My grandmother kept every single one. She only told us about the existence of these letters a few years ago, very close to the time of my grandfather's death. I now have the letters in my possession and am slowly reading through them, typing them up, and tracing my grandparents' relationship.

Since these letters are so intensely personal and highly valued, I have hesitated to say anything about them here and am still unsure what form my posts take. But I wanted to share some thoughts and some tidbits with you. My knowledge of World War II is not great, so I also want to pick your brains and get some feedback.

As an introduction, let me just say that the man who wrote these letters, a 23-year-old awaiting both the right moment to propose to his sweetheart and his summons from the draft, is a man that neither his son nor his grandchildren knew. He was a hard-working, no-nonsense father and by the time my sister and I came along, he was a quiet, serious grandfather. But the man I have met in these letters is, as he labels himself, a "wide-eyed dreamer," filled with philosophies and theories about the world, writting tenderly and candidly to my grandma.

I first started typing out the letters in November, 2010, exactly 67 years after my grandfather first penned them. I was typing his letter from November 12, 1943 on November 12, 2010. He was 23 when he wrote them. I was six months older and 24 at the time. I have since fallen behind in my recording, but I strive to keep this connection as I follow my grandfather's pen strokes.

I do my best to type at least one letter each night, and so spend my evenings developing an intimate relationship with my 23-year-old grandfather, a stranger who is quickly becoming a friend.

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