Today is Veterans Day in the US when we honor people who have served in the Armed Forces. My father was one of those people when he was drafted into the Army for two years during the Korean War. After basic training, he spent his time in Germany as an engineer who could build or destroy bridges at a moments notice. Luckily, he didn't see combat, but his time in the Army was difficult all the same.
He was newly married and hated leaving his wife alone. When he left, my mother had to find work and teach herself to drive. Soon after, they discovered that she was pregnant. Also because his father was sick, he still felt an obligation to his mother, siblings, and the family farm that he grew up on. It didn't help that when he was shipping out of New York Harbor, the army band played, “So Long, It's Been Good to Know You.” My father told that story until the day he died. Someone in the army didn't think that one through very well.
A few years ago, I was lucky to find letters that he wrote to his mother while he was away. These were remarkable not only because they were a part of the family history, but also because my father did not like to write—at all. So to see things he had written was indeed special. To truly appreciate his experience you need to read all of his letters in order. However, below is a sample.
How is everyone? Fine I hope. I am fine.
We have been so busy, I've had hardly any time to do any writing or much of anything else. I try to write my wife every chance I get, so don't worry if I don't write too often. I just haven't had the time.
We have already moved once and we have only been here 12 days. I always did hate to move and now I think even less of the idea. We have been standing one inspection after another ever since we got here. Last week we went on 3 hikes with combat packs and rifle. There were several of the guys that could hardly walk. Friday evening I was as sore as the devil but otherwise alright. We are having physical training again on top of the hikes plus some work.
This is an awful climate and right now it is about 20 above zero. There is a heavy coating of frost on the trees and everything. That makes the scenery really nice but the sun hasn't shown in a week here.
How is everything going there? What's Paul and Harry doing the most of right now? How are the kids getting along in school?
I must close for now. Tell everyone hello for me. And write soon and tell me all the news.
Your loving son,
P. S. Say, Mom, has anyone told you that we are expecting a baby. It is due about the first part of Aug. I'm hoping for a boy, but I'll be very happy with either one.