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Wounded Times

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Tuesday, December 25, 2012

War to home Christmas letters saved for history, re-tweet

War to home Christmas letters saved for history, re-tweet
by Kathie Costos
Wounded Times Blog
December 25, 2012

At first I thought how lousy it was that so much history is being lost with the technology we have now. Thousands of tweets sent back and forth between the troops and families, pictures and videos replacing hand written accounts of what they are thinking and praying for.

Then I thought about more.

Technology provides us with instant communication across thousands of miles. Could you imagine George Washington sending a tweet crossing the Delaware?

George Washington's Christmas Crossing The weather is cold, but not as cold as it was on this day in 1776, when a raging blizzard tormented the tattered remnants of Washington’s volunteer army.

Back then, there was no one to witness either the misery or the bravery of this heroic band. Today thousands of spectators from all over the world, many dressed in period clothing, are here to watch Rinaldi’s Washington and his men re-enact the event credited with saving the republic.

“These are the times that try men’s souls,” Rinaldi begins, solemnly intoning the words from Thomas Paine’s American Crisis, as Washington did to rally his cold and hungry troops. Parents hush small children; conversation drops to a respectful murmur. “The summer soldier and sunshine patriot, will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of his country, but he that stands it now deserves the love and thanks of man and woman...”


Think of all the history that would have been lost. How about during WWI when there was a truce between sides. Imagine them on a cell phone later that day taking instant pictures as their wives sent them back pictures of the kids opening their gifts.
The Christmas Truce
On January 1, 1915, the London Times published a letter from a major in the Medical Corps reporting that in his sector the British played a game against the Germans opposite and were beaten 3-2.

Kurt Zehmisch of the 134th Saxons recorded in his diary: 'The English brought a soccer ball from the trenches, and pretty soon a lively game ensued. How marvellously wonderful, yet how strange it was. The English officers felt the same way about it. Thus Christmas, the celebration of Love, managed to bring mortal enemies together as friends for a time.'

The Truce lasted all day; in places it ended that night, but on other sections of the line it held over Boxing Day and in some areas, a few days more. In fact, there parts on the front where the absence of aggressive behaviour was conspicuous well into 1915.


I was reading this when I got onto the computer early this morning and thought about Christmas letters being sent home from war.

From war with love: Christmas letters home span centuries but hit same notes
By Bill Briggs
NBC News contributor

Across three pages — typed on Christmas Eve 1966 from a village in South Vietnam — the soldier’s words to his wife dance seamlessly from a description of singing carols in the jungle to his latest enemy kills to, finally, a vow of eternal affection.

“Last night we had a candle-lighting ceremony ... Gasoline drums welded together end to end with a white Noel on the side. Electric light on top covered by red cellophane ... Reindeer and Santa Claus at front. It was raining,” Army Gen. Sidney B. Berry wrote to his wife. He next reveals how he recently had perched in a helicopter door, firing his rifle at men below: “We all were shooting. And we killed several ...”

“Lovely Anne, I love thee,” Berry closed. “Perhaps the best aspect of this whole period of separation is our increased appreciation and understanding of each other. I love thee, and I will devote the rest of my life to making love to thee.” He signs off: “Thy wearied professional, Sid.”

This time of year, communication from combat lines has long provided a poignant piece of Christmas.
From the Civil War to the Vietnam War, troops ranging from privates to a general struck the same literary chords — no matter the success of their conflict, their era, or the location of their last battle. They often chronicle violence during a moment meant to celebrate peace. They typically express humor, perhaps to put families at ease. And they reveal yearnings to be back with gathered families and friends.

“A lot of people wrote letters to their mothers at Christmas. I guess it’s a time you really start to think about home, really start to think about where you come from,” said Conrad Crane, chief of historical services at the Army Heritage and Education Center.

Some of the letters offered to NBC News were were originally mailed to nieces, parents and wives.
read more here


With technology comes problems. Computers crash, accounts get canceled and files are not saved. There is a lot of history being lost when people don't think of how important all of this is to future generations. Save what you have so that generations from now will learn what we have learned from hand written letters. Print emails, make copies of pictures and save them so that when your children grow up they can learn. We all know we are not getting enough information from the media these days on what is happening in Afghanistan so you are the one to save their voices. Don't just trust Facebook to save all your files because one day they could be just as irrelevant as a lot of sites we used to use.

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