The desire to stay connected to those we care about has received renewed attention since Sept. 11.
But it's not a new phenomenon, as illustrated by "Postcards From World War II," by Robynn and Matt Clairday (Square One Publishers, $14.95).
This little paperback book reproduces both sides of postcards that GIs mailed from 1941 to 1945. On a few square inches of cardboard, they wrote their mothers and fathers, siblings, wives, sweethearts, grandparents, aunts and uncles, neighbors, high school buddies, and former co-workers.
These brief notes - from men who probably had never traveled any distance before and who, the authors point out, had generally completed only two years of high school - seem banal on the surface. They talk about the weather, Army life and food, where and when they expect to be shipped out.
But the poignant underlying message is always clear: how much it means to stay in touch.
"Hi, Dad. How are you getting along? Is the corn up yet? I bet the wheat looks nice by now.... Try and write me." "Hellow (sic) Neighbor.... If there is any news of back home, please tell me about it." "Dear Wife, I wait for your letters, so write me.... I am lonesome without you."
Far from home - missing friends and loved ones, experiencing the rigors of service life, and facing the uncertainties of war - these young men instinctively knew what mattered: staying connected to people from whom they'd been separated.
Maybe each generation rediscovers this lesson in times of trouble.
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