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Talking It Over -- Life during wartime

If you have been reading my column for the last eleven weeks you have learned a little more about life for young men and women during World War II. The letters I reprinted were written by my dad to my mother while he served more than two years during the war. I am certain the many struggles and concerns they faced at this time are very similar to those faced by thousands of soldiers during the war.

My father passed away last winter and often during my visits with him I would try to talk about his experiences in the war. I am not sure if it was his health at that time or the habit he had developed to not talk about it, but I really didn't learn a lot about it from him personally. However, these letters spoke volumes about his struggles and devoted belief that he would return home safely.

Dad survived 30 battles, lost two children, fought off malaria, and returned home only after the military found that he was having nerve problems. During this time he kept up a cheerful correspondence with his young wife, encouraging her and trying to help out despite the distance. His struggles undoubtedly matched those of many young families during World War II.

As I was growing up I heard very little about those times. Dad didn't talk about it very much and any questions we asked were vaguely answered. That is until we found the letters. It clarified a lot about him, his desire to succeed in whatever he took on and his strong, Christian lifestyle.

I have also gained a better understanding about my mother. How strong she had to be giving birth to three children without her husband and then having to bury two of them and grieve alone. I couldn't imagine how difficult this had to be while also living with constant worry for her husband fighting in battles far from home.

I find that I have a new outlook on the roles of parents. Over the years, we have taken time to honor our parents for all that they have done for us in many small ways. However, I now feel that I really needed to thank them for their struggles long before I was even born and for their strength through these difficult times. I wonder how many of us today could endure what so many young families went through years ago.

War is rough no matter when we go through it but at least today there is better communication, shorter terms of service and better help for the families left at home. Thankfully our government and society has recognized that soldiers and their families need tender loving care along with our respect and admiration.