Letters from War by Pete Chagnon

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11-11-11. A day set aside to honor America’s veterans. We thank you for your sacrifice, and we thank you for our freedoms.

Veterans have played a huge role in shaping me into the person I am today, and I’d like to pay tribute to them in this blog. First there are the veterans from my own family. My father served in the Navy during the Vietnam war as did my father-in-law. Then there is my late Uncle Ricky who was a former Marine Vietnam combat Veteran. Spending time with my Dad and Uncle Ricky in the woods during deer season was quite the experience. Nobody could out shoot my Uncle Ricky, which is an entirely different story altogether!

Another veteran who I remember dearly was a gentleman by the name of Mr. Buck. Mr. Buck taught Sunday School at our little church in Vermont and the only time I heard him talk about his service to America was when someone asked him if he had ever been to France. “Yeah, years ago with a rifle on my back,” he replied. The next veteran who played an important role in my life was Mr. Fondry who lived near the high school I attended. Mr. Fondry landed on Normandy in 1944. One summer, Mr. Fondry gave me a job mowing his lawn for $10 a week and afterwards we would have ice cold cokes while sitting on his front porch discussing philosophy — which centered pretty much around the topic of his displeasure with the changing world. But perhaps one of the most intriguing veterans I knew was my wife’s grandfather Aiken Gelo. 

Like the rest of the veterans I knew, Aiken was a native Vermonter. Aiken served in the European theater in World War II in tank support. Before he went on to be with the Lord, Aiken documented portions of his life in a journal and I found the read to be quite fascinating. He grew up in hard times, but didn’t expect a hand out or the government to bail him out. He expected to succeed in life through hard work and service to his country. During his wake, there was a display of his military service and contained in that display was a letter that his wife Uta penned to him in 1943 in the middle of the Second World War. As a befitting tribute and memorial to our veterans I thought I would share that letter with everyone.

February 28, 1943

Sunday Night


 How shall I begin? My heart seems so full tonight. – of happiness mixed perhaps with a little sadness and loneliness. Its strange how you can feel happy and sad at the same time. When I think of the many many blessings which I can count as mine I think how fortunate I am. When I think of my home, my parents, my loved ones, my friends. – the wonderful country I live in – I think how can I be anything but happy. But then I think of what is happening in this world of ours. People fighting instead of loving. Children cold and starving. Homes broken by war. Loved ones missing. When I think of these I think my heart cries – “Oh God can this happen to us?” Do you have that feeling of happiness and sorrow? Of course the happiness overshadows the sorrows. I think – because the happiness starts because God loved us so muchthat he gave His Son that whosoever (that means me) believeth on Him should not perish but have everlasting life. There’s a joy in that that cannot be overshadowed ever.

             God’s love. – there are a great many kinds of love isn’t there. His love for us is so great that its hard to describe. It had no beginning nor ending. It is from everlasting to everlasting. Then there is the love of mother and father and isn’t that love sweet and wonderful? It’s next to God’s love I guess.

             Then there’s a brother’s and sister’s love – a friends love, etc.

             Then there’s the love that one person gives to another – a man and a woman, or a boy and a girl. This love can’t be explained can it? It’s something that must be experienced – and we’ve experienced it haven’t we dear? I can’t tell you how very much I love you – all I can say is – “here is my love – all of it – take it for it belongs to you.” And when you offered me your love I took it and prayed that I should never do anything to hurt that love. I want you to be always glad that you love me. I want you to be always proud that you love me. I hope that you always will be. I know that if ever you regret loving me it will somehow be my fault. Oh my darling I love you so very, very much. God bless you and keep you safe.

 Your sweetheart