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A letter found at the World War II Memorial, Washington DC

In honor of Veteran's Day, I decided not to go "wordless", but to share this photo and letter I found at the newly-opened World War II Memorial in Washington, DC. As with the Vietnam Memorial, I found mementos and messages left at the Memorial by people remembering loved ones or simply offering the sacrifices of the soldiers who served in that war. The photo was displayed along with this letter, which seems an appropriate way to remember those who have risked their lives that we might enjoy our freedom:

  

June 26, 2004

We were both born more than 20 years after victory finally came over the Germans and the Japanese.  You protected our parents, who were still children, not fully aware of the shadows that hung over them, during the years when you took to the battlefields, the seas, and the air.  We grew up luxuriously, at least compared to most of the world, and we were freely able to attend college, seek employment, get married, and have a child.  These are all gifts from God, but they are gifts you helped procure for us long before we were even conceived.  You, who died in so many awful ways; you, who saw the worst things men’s eyes could ever endure; you, who did the dirtiest, hardest, most hellish work imaginable; you, who had to kill, because there was no other choice; you, who left behind dead friends that you loved more than yourselves; you, who lost legs and arms and feet and hands; you, who returned to your loved ones in victory, though you left pieces of your hearts behind with those buried on Pacific islands, or in Europe’s fields, or in the boundless oceans.

You were not, and you are not, heroes of marble.  You are heroes because you were boys, flesh and blood, having to do what none of you (or us) would have chosen in the best of worlds. But you did it. You fought to preserve what goodness there was, and for the potential of goodness even in the midst of darkness; nothing could be simpler than that, yet nothing could be more profound.  We grieve, even now, for you the dead soldiers of World War II, and wish we could have met you as old men, surrounded by loved ones, serene in your twilight years.  Your buddies, many who (we are so glad) remain with us, wish the same.  Life is full of great beauty, wrapped in sorrow. 

We often are told that no words can describe certain thoughts or feelings.  But we have these words for you:  thank you, we love you, and though we know we often take you for granted, we will never forget you, we promise.  Our son will know about you, and his children will know about you, and we will do what we can to tell anyone else about the men and women of WWII, because we owe you.  Thank God for you, and thank God for our country.

 Love,

(Names were withheld to protect the privacy of those who left the letter)

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37 comments:

  1. You are so right, but in history each time was war. Let us hope for future for freedom and for peace, for no world hunger and no disease.

    Thank you for sharing this remarkable Post.

    I wish you a very good week.

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  2. Great post here! Thanks for sharing!

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  3. So true and inspiring. I remember many of my uncles going off the war and thanking God when they returned safely. I remember the hate we had for the German and Japanese enemies, and the glee when church bells rang out over the Vermont farmlands on VJ Day, August 15, 1945...

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  4. Thank-you for sharing this heartfelt letter. We must remember. My father was a co-pilate, flying raids over Germany. He didn't talk about his experience until the last few years of his life.

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  5. How beautiful! I am glad you spotted this letter and shared it with us.

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  6. Thanks for sharing an important story for all of us! We must remember about those who fought for freedom!
    Take care dear friend !

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  7. It's a lovely letter. Very nice post. I've just been reading about the seige of Leningrad. It's awful. The 'soldiers' (pretty much just people that joined in) were issued with guns but not everyone was issued with ammunition, and then stationed to await the approaching German army. Can you imagine that headspace - how absolutely terrifying.

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  8. A perfect tribute...absolutely perfect! Too many people take our freedom for granted and do not know just how many people died for it. Thank you for recognizing them!...:)jp

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  9. Such a wonderful memorial. I did not know it was only recently reopened, but I’m glad to hear it. Thank you for sharing the letter.

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  10. Love this post! Thank you for sharing! Teresa

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  11. A very touching remembrance and tribute. Thank you for sharing it

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  12. Beautiful, heartfelt. We honour Remembrance Day here on the 11 November. So this is fitting. But do we learn from the past?

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  13. Very touching letter. Hope we don't forget those who sacrificed their lives for their country.

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  14. What a lovely letter! We must never forget the brave who fought for freedom.

    Happy Tuesday, Sue!

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  15. Oh yeah, they have so much done for us here in Germnany and lost their lives... we all have to make wars stop in the whole world!

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  16. Thank you Sue. My grandfather and my uncle both served in the forces during 1939-1945. It is hugely important to never, ever forget the servicemen who died for freedom.

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  17. Oh wow - so touching. Thank you for sharing and hosting.

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  18. It's so important, to måske such historical things accessible for us. Thanks for sharing this touching letter.
    Greetings from Vienna, babsy

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  19. Oh, wow! Thank you for sharing that moving letter. So sad and meaningful.

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  20. Impressive! We must always remember the sacrifices of our forefathers. We need to raise children in respect for them.
    Very nice post. Congratulations!

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  21. A wonderful heartfelt letter.
    So moving. Thank you for sharing.

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  22. I always enjoy reading tributes to fallen soldiers it is a great way for us to remember the sacrifice they made.
    Thank you for sharing this post.

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  23. A very touching letter. They paid with blood, with their lives, for our freedom. We must remember, honor their memory, but we must also keep what they have given us.
    Thank you, Sue.
    I wish you a wonderful day.

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  24. Wow, such a touching and beautiful letter. So very moving. Thank you for sharing this.

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  25. I will never forget. Thank you for sharing what someone left for all of us to read.

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  26. Wow, that is amazing and moving. Thank you so much for sharing it, Sue. It's important to never forget those who have fought for our freedom.

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  27. Very impressive letter! Thank you so much for sharing this.
    It's better not to forget that we are here because other people fight for us, and they must be in our prayers.

    Thank you again and Happy WW!

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  28. A beautiful remembrance to the fallen heroes.

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  29. Yes, thank you. Well done.

    Thank you for joining the Wordless Wednesday Blog Hop.

    Have a fabulous Wordless Wednesday. ♥

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  30. Wow, great letter that says so much about how we feel for those who served and are still serving. Thanks for sharing your visit to the memorial.

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  31. I was two years old when the war finally ended but then the nighhtmare for the Germans started under the occupation. Fortunately I lived in an American and British zone, and they were kind, but half on my family was occupied by the Russians and that was terrible they raped women and tortured or shoot poor civil people. I will always remember the sound of the tanks when they moved in and the chains broke the road. It should never happen again ! The population and the soldiers of both sides suffered the most not the politicians !!

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    1. Gattina, I have a friend who describes experiences similar to yours during the occupation years. I have often tried to imagine what role I would have played during the war years and thereafter. We all like to believe we would have done "the right thing", but living through such anxious times must be agonizing. I cannot imagine the fear or how it would affect the decisions made day by day.

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  32. Great letter, great memory. I love it.

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