“War is in full swing in Europe and the Nazis are winning. The United States has a neutrality act in place and is strongly isolationist. Surrounded by water and out of reach of foreign enemies—like a moated castle—the war has nothing to do with the US.
“Until . . .
“Just before eight o’clock on the morning of December 7, 1941—a Sunday—hundreds of Japanese fighter planes descend over Pearl Harbor near Honolulu, Hawaii, catching the naval base completely off guard. The next day, President Franklin D. Roosevelt asks Congress to declare war on Japan. They approve nearly unanimously. Four days later, on December 11, Germany declares war on the United States.”
Letters Home: An American Farm Family in World War II is a compilation of letters written during the world’s darkest time by a meteorologist, a nurse, and a doctor in Europe, a private-in-training in country, and wives, brothers, and their parents on the homefront who farmed the land, sent care packages overseas, and worked at the Willow Run Bomber Plant in Ypsilanti, Michigan building B-24s . . . And wrote letters. (Oh! And there is a genuine wartime romance!)
My father wrote to my mother on August 24, 1944:
“I think a letter should not just be something in my handwriting to let you know I’m still alive. If I weren’t alive you’d know about it soon enough. I think a letter should be interesting to read even to others than the addressee. Anyway, that’s the way I feel.”
This 530-page tome of letters, war history, photographs, and narration (by me) was compiled for my family, but I’m taking orders for others who are interested in a personal and global history of Europe and the US from 1941 to 1946. A friend said to me:
“These letters stand for all the letters written and not saved.
It is the story of all of us of a certain age,
descendants of those who lived through those challenging years.”
Ordering deadline is June 20 and cost is $35 including shipping ($25 if you are local and can pick it up).
“Dear folks, One of my patients — a young farm boy from N. Dakota — who was wounded in the leg some time ago went to surgery yesterday and came back without a leg. The doctors have been trying for weeks to save it but yesterday they found that it was impossible. I was sitting with the boy when he came out of the ether. He had hold of my hand and sat up to look at his leg. I never will be able to forget that look in his eyes when he said ‘My leg. Nurse, it’s gone.’ He squeezed my hand until I thought it would break. It is things like that that depress me so. I don’t think that I’ll work on an orthopedic ward at the next set-up. I can’t stand amputations at all. I’m far too sympathetic to be a good nurse.”
Love to all, Helen
In my possession also—and included in the book—are a handful of letters written by Joel B. Baker—an ancestor in my paternal grandmother’s lineage—to his wife during America’s Civil War, including a first-hand accounting of the Second Battle of Cold Harbor, known as one of American history’s bloodiest, most lopsided battles.
“On we rushed down into the ravine and soon commenced climbing the rim beyond. As soon as we were far enough up to be seen by the rebs, they commenced pouring into our ranks charge after charge of cannister which mowed down men by the dozens. The muskets also opened upon us but in the face of this terrible storm of lead and iron the men still unhurt pushed steadily on but dropping with fearful rapidity. The company seemed to melt away.”
Joel B. [Goodell] Baker
This book will not be sold in bookstores or on Amazon, nor will there be a second printing. If you would like a copy, you can reply on this post or contact me via email, text, or Facebook by June 20.
The cost of the book is for printing (and shipping) only, the creation of it is my gift to my ancestors and their descendants—to get their story and the country’s story into the world, honoring their saving of 1500 letters. Every person alive during 1940 to 1945 was a veteran of WWII. It is a time we must never forget.
“If I thought that I ever wanted to have more than a memory of this war after it’s over I could do no better than save the letters that are written to me.”George Staebler
To read the synopsis in a previous post, go here.
“It is a family tradition that a Goodell either talks or writes.”Ethel Goodell Clark, family historian