In 1944 my father was 18 years old and just 3 days after his birthday he received what he calls “Love Letters” from the War Department, in the scrapbook he kept. The envelope is empty, but it must have contained his call up. On the same page is a request for the Pennsylvania Railroad to accommodate my father with “a free ride.” There’s a full size magazine describing Camp Butner where he went through basic training. And then this small booklet pasted in the scrapbook with a hand drawn arrow pointing to it, and his words, yours truly. Right above the guide to his new life as a combat engineer is a postcard he called; my first stop, of the Service Men’s Telephone Center. The reverse side of the card, written in pencil to his brother is stamped Feb. 8, 1944 with the words For Free in the upper right corner where a stamp would normally be placed, but was unnecessary for those serving in the armed forces during WW II. Unfortunately he sustained an injury and sent back to the States. There’s as very small paper folded in thirds with Instructions to Patients. Folded it is less than 3 1/2 by 5 1/2 inches. Why? To save resources during the war. And then following that is a beautiful booklet from Valley Forge Hospital with a listing of all hospital staff inside, and a menu for Christmas dinner. Under the desserts; Hot Mince Meat Pie, Vanilla Ice Cream, Fruit Cake, Candy, Nuts, Assorted Fruits, Cigarettes, Coffee. Interesting, huh? Here’s a newspaper clipping from his scrapbook, an advertisement for Bromo Seltzer showing Jimmy Dorsey, who claims he can’t “send” when he’s feeling unwell. There’s 2 last items; a certificate signed by President Jimmy Carter in honor of my father’s “devoted… service to our country” mailed in September 1980 about 6 months after my dad died. And there’s a packet of condolence cards from family and friends. Tucked in is a small, neatly clipped newspaper announcement of his death. Thanks Dad – for your service to our country, your sense of humor, and your part in my life and my children’s lives. I salute you on this day of memory.
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