Thursday, June 7, 2012


    "June 6, 1944

     Dear Dad,

     I had to date this letter a day later because it may be the last time I can write to you.  I already gave Mom the 'don't worry' letter, but man to man, Dad, I've never been more scared in my life.
     Remember when that old owl chased me in the barn at night?  I was seven, and you ran in there, shotgun in hand, and saved me from its talons.  I always wanted to know what that felt like.  What did it feel like to be a hero? 
    Dad, they throw that word around a lot around here.  The sarge talks at length about sacrifice and constantly tells us that we have the best naval power in the world, the best men, and that as Americans we are heroes of freedom.  If he's so confident, why was he in the toilet, crying as he read the bible just now?
    I'm trying to envision it all, see it in my mind.  Coach Jones always told me to visualize myself doing good to do good.  I don't even know what to imagine.  We're going to get piled in these box boats.  We're basically pointed at the beach and when that gate falls open, we come out fighting.  No one really mentioned that the bad guys are going to see us coming a mile away.  They're sure as hell not going to wait until we get to the sand. 
    Sand, Dad...  I remember trying to run in the sand when we went to the beach and it was impossible.  Do you know how much gear we gotta tow on our backs?  No one wants to say it, but it's no use, Dad.  We're sitting ducks in those things. 
   I'm sorry for whining.  It's not very honorable I know.  I'm just allowing myself to be scared because there won't be time for that tomorrow. 
   I'll be brave tomorrow.  I'll be a good American soldier.  I know this owl is no owl, and it's not just a little kid afraid of being pecked or slashed.  We're talking an entire country, millions of French men, women, and children, that we're going to fight for.
   Sarge kept asking us, what would we do if this was happening at home?  He said "What would you, maggots do if those Nazis showed up and locked up your ma and pa, and slaughtered your little brothers and sisters?"  I could only think of the way you ran into that barn, took aim, and dropped that owl.  And that's what I'm going to think about tomorrow.
   But for now, I want to thank you for showing me how to throw a curve ball, for running next to me until I could ride that bike all by myself, and for not telling Mrs. Wendell that you caught me kissing her daughter.  I also want to thank you for the tearful blessing you gave me before I left.  I know I promised you that I'd come back in one piece, but Dad, please don't hold it against me if I can't keep that promise.
   I'm going to pray all night.  Mom will like that, I'm sure.  I'm going to pray that we make it somehow, and that one day we can read this letter together and sigh with relief at the unrealized fears.
   But if that's not the case, Dad.  If these are the last lines you get from me.  Please know that I did all I could to be a hero like you.
   I love you, Dad


Let us never forget the greatest generation that ever lived...


  1. oh, c'mon man! You made me start the day crying! Well done, Javier ;)

  2. As I prepared to go to war I often thought about how I would react when the bullets filled the air and pounded the ground around me. I think that everyone thought about it and how they would react. No one wanted to be a coward. No one told us not to fear, they told us to do what had to be done in spite of the fear. That's what being a hero is all about. Anyone who doesn't fear can't be a hero. They're just an idiot.

    1. Jack, I can't even imagine how you and everyone in uniform coped with what you've all had to do

  3. My grandfather had a hand in WWII as a member of the Jedburgh teams... I seldom think of it all because it's not a part of my life, or so I've lied to myself about. I'd be speaking German if it wasn't for the Johnny's of that era. You won't believe how hard your words hit me, and as always, how you reduced me to a crying mess. Beautiful, as always, Javier

  4. Geez Jav, way to start my day off on a light note! What inspired you to write this? I love your character development and it is beautiful here for such a short piece. I kept going back up to see if this was really you blogging or a reprint of something old and dear to you. I have a short story my son wrote for history/english in 8th grade that I always thought we should try to get published. He is a historian by nature, as well as a performer (how we met Chris and Ali) and he is in college for nursing...but this brought back one of the two best things he wrote in all his school years. he writes music but never liked writing much...he is a serial reader like me though....anyway, back to your piece. tissue's now wadded and ready for trash. this is really beautiful and masterfully crafted, but then I expect nothing less of you.

    1. When I was in college, studying history, the texts only mentioned the generals and sort of skipped over what those boys went through. The images of the first 10 minutes of Saving Private Ryan stayed in my head forever, until last year, while writing blogs about holidays from a different perspective, I thought what it must have been like to be one of those soldiers. And that's where this letter came from. I've seen some of the guys at work cry over this blog, because they had relatives who went through it. They thought that was the case with me.