Despite how yesterday’s commemorative ceremonies might have painted the attack on Pearl Harbor seventy years ago, the dawning of that day itself became a rough wake-up call to adulthood for an entire generation coming of age in the early 1940s. High school students left classrooms in droves, young men and women forsook promising career plans in answer to the call to arms when President Franklin D. Roosevelt declared war on Japan seventy years ago today.
That raw moment of inspiration fueled the greatest concerted effort ever witnessed by this country. We tend to remember such glistening moments.
What we forget is the mind-numbing monotony of the day-in-and-day-out hard work contributed by multiplied hundreds of young people—punctuated only by frenzied episodes of life-threatening attacks—ever on the alert at their many stations in all arenas of that war.
Ten days before Christmas in the third year of his World War II service in the Navy, Frank Stevens has evidently just arrived at some undesignated spot in the South Pacific. The war seems to be dragging on him. Perhaps it is owing to an unspoken homesickness that he still harps on the fact when letters stop coming from his Chicago home. With news pending on the sale of the family home in Chicago, and the arrival of another grandchild for his mom and dad, it’s understandable that Frank would be impatient about being left out of the loop.
More important than all those minute details, though, is Frank’s hope that he will someday be reunited with the family that means so much to him.
December 15th 1944
Dear Mom Dad + All:
No mail from home now since the first day I hit here. I hope you are all allright and that bothe of the places are sold by now. You ought to have about 7 grand when things are all settled, have you found a place that you like? If your not going to move to California, how about the far south side or have you thought about one of the Suburbs give me all the dope. I’m glad that the allotment has started and don’t talk as though it were a lot I only wish it were twice as much. I owe you so much I’d never be able to repay it no matter what I was able to send, all I ask is that Dad take better care of himself so that he and I can be together after the war. That dough is only one way of saying thanks for being my parents. I haven’t heard from Mutzie as yet so I don’t know what the score is on that branch of the family tree. I hope it’s a little granddaughter I think one of the Stevenses are about due. I sure did get Pat’s love life mixed up didn’t I. Dick Potter or Bill Todd I’ve never met either of them so it doesn’t make much difference to me. Just so long as Pat is happy.