The months with Quentin [Roosevelt] nearby had been happy ones for [his mother] Edith. Her anxiety about the dangers of flying abated each night with the sound of his footsteps on the veranda, and after he sailed, she was sometimes visited by the odd sensation that she had just heard the footsteps again. Sagamore [the Roosevelt family home] ached with emptiness. Edith felt that her life had broken off sharply; “it is like becoming blind or deaf—one just lives on, only in a different way.”
From a letter written by Lieutenant Arnold Schuette to his newborn daughter, collected in War Letters: Extraordinary Correspondence from American Wars (2001), edited by Andrew Carroll
December 21, 1943
My Dear Daughter, Anna Mary,
Some day I shall be able to tell you the conditions under which I write this letter to you.
You arrived in this world while I was several thousand miles from your mother’s side. There were many anxious moments then and since.
This message comes to you from somewhere in England. I pray God it will be given to you on or about your tenth birthday. I hope also to be present when that is done. It shalle be held in trust by your mother or someone equally concerned until that time.
Also I pray that the efforts of your daddy and his buddies will not have been in vain. That you will always be permitted to enjoy the great freedoms for which this war is being fought. It is not pleasant, but knowing that our efforts are to be for the good of our children makes it worth the hardships.
From a letter written by First Lieutenant Ed Luker to his wife, collected in War Letters: Extraordinary Correspondence from American Wars (2001), edited by Andrew Carroll
June 18, 1918
Do you smell gas also? We were all subjected to several different kinds of it today [in training], with and without masks, and as usual, I cannot rid my clothes of the odor. It is sure awful stuff, honey. Deadly and usually insures a slow horrible death. There is one kind which kills quickly, Chlorine, but I do not prefer any kind or brand myself. I’ll use the gas mask if possible, with all its discomforts and smell.
I had to have a photo taken today for another “Officer’s Identification Book” which every officer must carry. It provides for a small size bust without head-gear, so when I receive same, I will send you copies. I believe they take the book when your body is found and send the photo to the War Dept to be placed on the Honor Roll. Won’t you be proud to have your Hubby’s picture on a nice magazine page, all fringed with black? Ha! There’s no danger tho. You’ll have me back soon. The war cannot last forever, you know, and even if it does, I will return to you safe and sound eventually.
Unlike the majority of other boys, I am not over here to “die” for my country. I came over to live for it, and after I have helped make it possible for others to live in peace and happiness, I’ll be back to continue living for you. Then we’ll be happier than we would have been had you not sent me over.
From a letter written by Union Army soldier Charles E. Bingham to his wife, collected in War Letters: Extraordinary Correspondence from American Wars (2001), edited by Andrew Carroll
August 9, 1863
Same old camp six miles from Rebbys
. . . .
well i must drop this and wind up i am well and doing well and god grant that this bad mess of scribbling may find you in good health the weather has been exceedingly hot for all i thought it was getting colder please write as often as i remain your kind and affectionate husband and shall till death give all the love that you can spare to them that kneeds it only keepe what you want.
Thank you to all who have served and to all who are serving.