My Dad ran across a remarkable letter and shared it with family. I volunteered to share it more widely, and Dad and his siblings agreed.
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This 1942 letter was written by John Simmons to his son Donald as Donald was about to be shipped to Europe (England first). He had enlisted after the Pearl Harbor attack.
Donald Simmons was my grandfather, and I had the fortune of knowing him.
My father and his siblings knew John Simmons, their grandfather, and with this letter they are able to know him a bit better.
John was 63 when he wrote this letter to his youngest son.
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You can read all three pages together as a PDF — or you can click a thumbnail for each page for the full size version.
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Below is the text. The original is written in cursive on Wright Aeronautical Corporation letterhead.
Aug. 20, 1942
My thoughts are with you tonight so strongly that I shall drop you a note. Of course it is hard for you to go but not much harder than for us to see you go. You see we love you and are now so helpless to aid you in any way. But then you are a man now and will have to make your own way from here on. And we’re sure that you have the stuff to do it. It won’t be an easy job but then, Don, no job worth the doing is. There are bound to be dark days and darker nights but you must always remember that nothing lasts forever and in the morning it will be a new day. And you are better trained than most for the work.
You are too intelligent to be told and believe that war is anything but a tragic mess, however, we are in this not with our consent but because of a treacherous attack that we did not invite. Regardless of the causes the effect is that we simply must win. And we shall win in spite of our petty bickerings among ourselves for in the final analysis we are the greatest nation on earth. We know that this country has reached the highest degree of living for its people ever attained by any nation in the history of the world and I believe enough in God to feel that with His help all the good, the right, and the fine things must survive. Of course we feel that possibly you may not come back — there is always that possibility and, too, we may be gone when you do come back but in the very grim business of war bombs and bullets go where they are sent and we must for our own peace of mind look that fact in face. Naturally the law of averages is greatly on the side of your returning to us and please God that will be our happiest day in a life time. I am confident you will receive very good training in whatever field you are placed and that you will be adequately prepared to protect yourself.
You are entering what will probably be the greatest adventure in your life. You are going to see miserable, filthy, low, mean and degrading sights for men are like that but you will also see fine, good, self sacrificing and even heroic things for men are like that also. That you will fall into the later class we who love you and have every confidence in you have not the slightest doubt. You have the background and the spirit and will to do so. Just keep yourself so you can look yourself in the face and not be ashamed of what you see. You will come through all right.
And now, old Son, I’ll close by wishing you again the best of everything there is in any old world and all the luck that there is. I truly wish I were going with you — it is hard too to stand and wait.
Sgt. Donald Simmons did, of course, make it back.