Last weekend I visited my grandparents in Carlyle, Illinois. When I got bored, I prowled through their attic and found a series of scrapbooks that blew my mind. Tucked between lace from my great-grandmother's wedding dress and a curly blonde lock of hair from my grandfather's first haircut, I found this. It was yellowed and tattered. It mesmerized me.
My grandfather was a medic during World War II, and spent more than two years in New Guinea. His mother frequently sent him copies of the Carlyle Union Banner. He enjoyed the letters they printed from local men fighting and working for Uncle Sam overseas. Two months after his own letter was printed, he contracted rheumatic fever and was sent to California to recover.
I am noding his letter exactly as it was published (with misspellings and incorrect grammar). E2 is a database of information and human experience, and I felt that this would be a valuable and unique contribution.
November 12, 1944
I truly enjoy the letters you publish in your paper, written by the fellows in the service, and feel if everyone gets as much out of them as I do, it implies a contribution on my part.
I can well imagine them reading your paper, that you are quite active in civic affairs and interested in the welfare and prosperity of the community.
The August issues are just arriving but are read with enthusiasm.
To write about what is really on one's mind and what I think of military life might sound more like a post script to despair. But the esprit de corps of the men who are together in this common cause will be a priceless jewel, that even though so unpleasant now, shall be long remembered in out sober moments, and cannot help but give all a satisfaction in reflecting that can not now be anticipated.
Since leaving the states have been stationed here in New Guinea island. The country is very mountainous, and covered with a dense vegetation and not much like the South Seas Islands, shown in the movies. Some things are as you might expect, coral reefs and coconut trees, and natives whose clothing doesn't cover, or cost much.
The natives look pretty wild, but are a lot more intelligent than they look. Their life is a strange mixture of primativeness and civilization. As a whole they are friendly and talkative and drive a mighty hard bargain when trying to trade for souvenirs. Most of them speak some English.
Then too there are a lot of tropical diseases, smells, and bites. But the difficulties in living in these out of the way places is mostly getting used to a strange land.
Incidentally I am still very proud of my community back home and truly miss all of my friends back there. The out of sight-out of mind business doesn't apply to me, and after being away over two years, I would give almost anything to be back.
Paul B. Zieren