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Veterans’ View: Letters home shed light on what soldier was going through | COMMENTARY

With social media and email, the art of letter writing seems to be a thing of the past. I received a recent gift, coming in the form of old letters.

My dad, David, was an Army veteran who passed away in 1997. My mom, Carolyn, passed away in October. During the daunting task of cleaning out her home, my brother and I found a treasure of letters that my dad wrote to my mom while he was in boot camp before they were married. The letters beginning April of 1964 with one every day while he was as in training. Every letter began, “Hello My Darling” and constantly expressed how much he loved and missed her. His training was scheduled to finish August 1964 and each letter counted down the days until he would see Mom again. The following is an excerpt from a letter dated 12 August 1964:

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Honey, you know in about 9 days, if nothing goes wrong, you will be in my arms. I guess I might as well tell you, I think I sort of wanted to surprise you, but I changed my mind. We are supposed to leave here, Friday the 21st. I still don’t know if we are going to fly or take the train.

Honey, I know I think of some horrible things, but I just can’t help it. I guess you know I have something on my mind. I’ve been thinking about if I had to come back home and then get called back into the service to go to Vietnam.

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Honey, I know you would be true to me but I think it’s too much to ask of you with me leaving with nothing but promises for you to wait for. You deserve so much more than that and you really wouldn’t know if I would be back.

Darling, I don’t know if I could go away never knowing the happiness of being married to you or not knowing if I ever would have it. I don’t want you to get me wrong. I am perfectly happy now, but I know there has to be so much more to look forward to and I could never have it with anyone but you.

With all my love, Dave.

Dad ended all his letters with, “I love you and will forever and a day.”

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I can’t imagine the heartache of being away from the person you love for so long and the uncertainty of whether or not he would be deployed oversees, before marrying the love of his life and not knowing if he would every make it home to her.

On Aug. 21, 1964, dad made it home to Cumberland and held the love of his life in his arms. He was not deployed to Vietnam and mom and dad eventually married, moved to Manchester and raised three children. After finishing active duty in the Army, he continued to serve 20 additional years in the Army Reserves.

It’s been such a blessing to read these letters and to know how much they loved each other. Without the letters, their journey and their story would be gone forever.

If you have a loved one in the military in training or deployed oversees, I encourage you to partake in the art of writing letters. They will be treasured by your loved ones for years to come.

Mom and Dad, I miss you terribly and I will love you forever and a day.

Gina Valentine is the Carroll County bureau chief of Aging & Disabilities, home of the Veteran Services Program of Carroll County.

On the first Tuesday of each month, the Times publishes as its editorial a Veterans’ View, an opportunity to draw attention to veterans’ issues as well as to inform and educate the community and all veterans about the multitude of available services.

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