Letters from a soldier
The war is over, but there is much loss. Everyday I try to pay my condolences to the grieving families. The families who have suffered the greatest losses, there were many funerals that summer. Each funeral took a piece of my soul with, but the one that hit me the most was the funeral of John Andrews. It was August 24, 1945, and it was raining, which was unusual for summer weather. It seemed to me that God himself was mourning for the premature death of this young soldier. He was only 19, and would have made a damn fine writer one day, writing was his passion and I am confident that he will bring his gift to the heavens up above.
I saw the family standing off to one side, and I gradually walked over to them to pay my respects. His mother notices me and slowly walks over.
“You were John’s Captain? Am I correct?”
“Yes ma’am,” I answered.
“Did you see him die?” she asked, she seemed as if she had gone through a lot of pain over the past few days. Her gait was slow and she looked as if in deep thought.
“Yes ma’am, I did.”
“Tell me, did he die with dignity like he promised us, did he make our family and country proud?” it all seemed so important to her.
“Yes ma’am, as did any man who was drafted to fight this war, but not only did he give you dignity, he gave you glory.”
“Thank you for giving me some comfort, but please take these; our son would have wanted you to have them, thank you again for coming,” she gave me a hug, and looked at me with sad eyes, I would see them for the rest of my life.
“I came to pay my respects, thank you for letting me come, are you sure that you want me to have these,” I motioned towards the letters.
“Yes, it was his final wish, thank you” with that, we slowly departed from one another.
I looked down at the package and saw all of the letters that John had written during the war, my first reaction was that I cannot take these, but his mother said that he wanted me to have them. I wanted to honor his last wishes so I carefully placed them in my briefcase. Later on when I would come home, I would forget about the letters and I would place the briefcase in the attic. Forgetting what was in there until another summer 12 years later.
It was August 24 again, and my seven-year-old son had a new adventure, he wanted to clean the attic. He told me that there might be magical creatures up there, because it was so old and dusty. His plan was to find an old trunk or wardrobe and then escape to another world, where there were evil witches and fierce lions. He came down again and came to me to outline his new plan. He was now a war captain, and wearing my old suit, he was going to fight in the war be a hero. I was laughing with him when I saw that he was also carrying my old briefcase.
“John let me see what you have there,” I asked.
“Okay, I thought it made me very captain like, do you like it?”
“Of course I like it, it is mine and it contains many adventures and stories,” the way his eyes lit up when he realized that at last he had found a treasure in the attic was priceless. I opened the briefcase and out came all of John Andrews’s letters.
“Wow, who wrote all of these? He must have had a lot of time on his hands, and really bored!” my son was in utter amazement as he stared at all the letters.
“Someone named John Andrews wrote these, it is whom you are named after, why don’t you go help mom in the kitchen?” I asked, he looked at me with sad eyes, asking why I had to do this to him but he obliged. I realized how much I had forgotten when I looked at the letters, I felt guilty because I had not yet read the letters when they were given to me so many years ago. John put everything into the letters, they were his touch with home and the only thing that kept him sane. I remembered that he told me he would make a book out of them one day. Why had I not done that? Millions of thoughts were rushing through head as I opened his last letter…
Dear mom and dad,
I think this might be my last letter, and I have a feeling I will not make it out of this war. If I die can you please bury me by the sea and under a tree, if it is to be my final resting place I will need shade. I love you all so much and I wish I could see you one more time, but I know I will not. I just want you to know how much I love you and I hope I made you proud. I will see you in the next world.
P.S. Can you please give all of my letters to my Captain after you have read them, he is a good guy and he will do the right thing.
I was ashamed of myself for still being alive, he should not have died he should have gone to college and become the next Shakespeare. My son came in and asked me why I was crying, I told him it was because I loved him very much. I looked for a long while at the letters and then I went to work on repairing the past.
This story is rather meant to show that war and memories never really end. It could be a physical war, like WWII, or it could be a mental war. Both are destructive in their own ways. The physical war counts the damage and number of lives taken and is usually around for a certain period. The mental war is constantly being waged with the everyday decisions we make. Some decisions are worse than others are and we end up blaming ourselves, and then we try to fix the mistake or the past. I chose to put the story around letters because they are so close to the writer, in war all emotions and feelings are put into the letters. It keeps a soldier sane and they give the family relief knowing that their son, husband, or father is still alive. The letters are priceless because they hold so much, they actually carry memories and love in them. They are a soldiers gold throughout the war, that is why they are special.