In My Own Words:

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One thing that has struck me since beginning this project is the beauty of language exhibited by the soldiers in their letters home. Whether it is in the longing letters of Dr. R. H. Peel written to his sweetheart in Mississippi while he sits in a blood-soaked field hospital in the Civil War or in the letters of my Uncle Bob writing to his sister Julia between missions in WW2 and reminiscing about an enchanted night in Algiers -- their use of language in conjuring the sights and sounds of faraway places for the women back home is sadly becoming a lost art.

In these days of fast and short communication, will some future genealogist try to uncode a long file of email headers to figure out who started the communication? And then sort through the one line questions and single word responses as so many of these communications tend to be. I fear, the written letter as a valuable insight into the hearts and minds of those who serve far from home is lost forever and we must learn to appreciate what we have. Still there is hope for saved files and printed emails. Something may remain.

So treasure these few letters -- Bob Wilds planning to build a pool for his sister, Joe Collins waxing poetical about the Battle of Legaspi, and in the diaries, too, you will find a soldier's poetry for the countryside and for the women -- some themes remain constant, of course . . .

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