Wednesday, February 27, 2008


He wrote the letter on top tomorrow -- in 1945.

My almost-14-year-old son has been working on a project about Iwo Jima for his social sciences class. Last night, he asked me to help him with his project by transcribing some letters to make them look somewhat genuine "because he doesn't have the greatest handwriting in the world." I argued back that the letters he asked me to write were by a 19-year-old man who also didn't have the greatest penmanship in the world. Not to mention, he was writing from a foxhole. I imagine that doesn't bode so well for a smooth stroke of the pen, either.

I decided that it might do me good to write them, so I tried to make the penmanship "tighter," in the style of a man, and with more pressure, because most men I know write with a more solid hand than I do. I didn't have time to study the cursive of the day -- so I tried to keep my own flourishes to a minimum (many people mistake my handwriting for calligraphy; I actually modeled it, sometime in my impressionable middle school youth -- after, um, what's it called --oh yeah, the Declaration of Independence).

Hebert Taylor enlisted in World War II at the age of 17 and skipped his senior year of high school to serve his country.

So, after shoveling my sidewalk for the umpteenth time, I came in and did my homework, which I was beginning to see more as paying homage to this brave young man. There's something that happens between the reading and the writing. Not the typing. The actually, deliberate spelling out of each word with your hand, gripping a writing instrument.

This is the fruit of my labor. The fruit of his, actually, for which there isn't enough thanks in the world to give. Practically written under candlelight, as my lamp is pretty but doesn't throw much light. Check out the link above (courtesy of my son) to find out about Hebert (who made it back from the war) and to read what he's actually writing.

"War is hell." I imagined, as I wrote, that this could very well be one of my sons writing to me. I had experienced this feeling once, for real, though. My sister served in Panama and I would send her care packages and cry each time I mailed them off, wondering if she'd make it back alive, given the letters I received from her. (I should print those, huh? Letters from Panama from a woman soldier.)

History repeats itself. Moms and Dads and Aunts and Uncles and Grandparents and Brothers and Sisters and Lovers and Spouses and Children are still receiving these letters. Different time, different war.

I'm posting this video as an "added value." Watching Forensic Files one night took me back to high school, where I'd watch Nova in science class. After years and years, I decided it was time I knew who the man behind the voice was a few months ago, who has narrated so many things that I remember so well.

This is a video which features his voice -- which came out in the '80s and was a political statement on the Vietnam War. From what I've read, he had his reservations about doing the voice over, but ultimately, he decided to. I'm glad he did. Please read about the remarkable Peter Thomas, too.

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