Letters from World War I

Exhibition

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"Missing You - Letters from Wartime," about wartime letters, 1861-2010, expresses the essential connection of mail between military personnel and the families and friends left behind.

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[music]

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July 24th, 1861, Dear mother, I received

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your letter after a return to camp yes

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we have been and gone and done it the

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rebels opened a very destructive fire

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upon us Captain Smith was struck by a

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round shot completely cut into we kept

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on to Washington more dead than alive

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the last five miles of that March was

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perfect misery having been on our feet

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36 hours my dear mother I have just time

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to write you a word that I'm in bully

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condition and have got to enjoying the

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life much today's mail is made up for

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past injustice and neglect by bringing

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me five envelopes for enclosing letters

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and one even better a toothbrush

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d read when you get this picture you

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won't say any more about my getting

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another chap four you will see that I

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have grown so homely that a fellow must

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be a fool to have anything to say to me

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dear husband we are well and get along

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first-rate my wood is all saved up and

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I've got it paid except the two chords

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of hardwood I shall be glad when this

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war is over and you get safely back to

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us before you get this you will know how

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immense the butcher's bill has been

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these nearly two weeks have contained

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all of the fatigue and horror that war

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can furnish your letters are the one

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pleasure and you know my love your

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affectionate son may twenty eighth

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nineteen eighteen dear cousin grace

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reached camp last night about 1145 watch

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to barracks received a kit bag I took

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out bed ticking and filled with straw

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with fed beef stir and coffee turned in

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this comes to you Walter from my

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headquarters in the front lawn distinct

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pull Jerri boss with 500 yards from

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where I am right I'm in a cellar dear

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mother the knitted socks arrived ok

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as to eat doughnuts got to dry on route

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cookies are fine but a bit crumbly best

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things the chocolate if I am the last

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officer that is left of 5 it is an odd

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feeling to watch them go one by one

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until you are the last my recommendation

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is in and and I will be promoted if I

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live with my best ken

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jun 1944 our outfit was the first to hit

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france the flight over was strange the

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plane was dark except when someone lit a

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cigarette and you could take a quick

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glance at white drawn faces then there

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was the door all of a sudden the night

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came alive with flashes and streaks of

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life

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one really lives for letters from home

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out here it's hard to express but mail

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gives me just that much greater desire

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to come back from each skirmish with the

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enemy that was a truly wonderful letter

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when the letter came I was fixing lunch

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for the children hurry to the mailbox

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and tore open the envelope I'll Ram down

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the garden to the fruit trees shouting

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for your mother and she looked up and I

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said letter from Bob written the third

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and we embraced later I read it again

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darling you to steal I must admit I'm

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not exactly the same girl you left and

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twice as independent and I shall

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definitely have to work on my life do

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you think you'll be able to bear living

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with me I don't doubt that many a night

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my dear Joe we saw in the papers that

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your division is attacking Iwo Jima we

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who hit the beach in liver guided by the

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hands of God I said your special prayer

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mom each day and night so I'm certain

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your prayers were responsible for my

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safety I have prayed constantly that you

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will emerge unharmed

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god love you and be with you every

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minute goodnight my little Joey

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november 1951 my darling husband I knew

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in my heart that you soon you would be

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called for duty in Korea don't be afraid

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because I'll be with you every single

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minute if something should happen to

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either one of us the other will always

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have the wonderful memories I don't

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worry about me a grenade landed right

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next to me but it was a dud I got within

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five feet of him when he started to

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throw another I shot him straight

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through the head I'm sorry I had to take

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a human life but it was him or me wei

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hua 7 februari 1966 dear mom I know you

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must be worried to death from not

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hearing from me I got into it pretty

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heavy a few days ago and it was a

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miracle that i'm alive i'm a door gunner

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strapped inside door of a chopper with

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an m60 machine gun chained in front of

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it we fly at treetop level and look for

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the viet calm and getting another sixty

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five dollars a month hazardous duty this

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is the most exciting thing I've ever

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done don't forget to send me a few of

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those pictures when they are taken I

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don't know if I told you my last letter

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but I'm uncle

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I'd kind of like to hear Elena's voice

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again but some kind of anxious to get

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get a tape from home I imagine she's

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grown so much I probably recognize her

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Harley on R&R; is every picture you said

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it seems like she's changed so much

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every step you take is into the unknown

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the thought ever-present in your mind

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will I return februari 1991 Saturday

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night is when I heard that the ground

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war and the Gulf had started it just

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made my heart sink I didn't realize I

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was so upset but when I can and I love

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Alden come home safely soon his caboose

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and excelling this year it's not really

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the same here and i hope this cheers you

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up and whoever

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I never thought that heartache was

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really your heart aching for someone i

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miss you i love you so much I don't mean

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to keep saying it but I want you to come

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home Forever Yours dear mom we are

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leaving for Bagram to flesh out 600

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Taliban soldiers from the mountains this

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is the biggest battle of the war on

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terrorism it's hard to see all the guys

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who were shot or wounded and to know

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you're going right back in there every

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morning for a month I woke up and the

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first thing I did was go to cnn.com and

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go to the casualties list I was so

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scared I'm sitting in my little hole

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trying to relax when a large jet takes

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off the ground shakes and dust reigns

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from the ceiling one thing's for sure

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the majority of the time spent here is

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an incredible boredom interspersed with

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brief periods of sheer terror hey little

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bud no you make sure you're being a good

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boy and helping mommy while I'm gone I

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love you so much man hey next time I

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call try to think of another one of your

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funny jokes to tell me okay there's a

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hole in me when you're not near

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I need to sleep now but i'll see you in

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my dreams

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Image: French postcard, April 20, 1918
"BRAVO! CAMARADE, A L’OMBRE DE TON DRAPEAU, NOUS MARCHERONS VERS LA VICTOIRE
Bravo, comrade, under the protection of your flag, we will win the Victory!"

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Image: American postcard, December 3, 1917
Postmark: LAWTON, OKLA. FT. SILL BRANCH DEC 3 1917

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Image: Miss Irene Donnelly’s letter
Center for American War Letters Archives, Leatherby Libraries, Chapman University, CA

My Fellow Soldiers