World War II

A valentine from World War II

... and the long-time effect of a Valentine

by Marie Salamanca

From somewhere in the South Pacific I received a valentine letter in February, 1944, from my Uncle Carmine which I have treasured all these years.

A few months ago I got a call from my granddaughter, Ariel, an eighth grader in Maine, who needed an artifact from WWII; and she needed an interview with someone who was around at that time. My memories were of dark green shades on the window, a flag with five stars in my grandmother's window, the ten pennies I brought to school each Monday to buy stamps which eventually became war bonds, and the interruptions at the movies while a Hollywood star made a pitch to "buy bonds" as tin cans were passed through the aisles.

Unwilling to part with my precious letter, I told her I would make a copy. A few days later on a Saturday afternoon I got a call from my daughter saying they were coming to Melrose for a visit that night. Great.

Within an hour I got a call from my Uncle Carmine's wife saying they were coming for coffee that night also. This was truly a surprise as Carmine has not been well and hadn't visited for nearly a year.

What a surprise it was for both the veteran and the teen-ager who barely knew each other to meet and have his letter in her hand. They talked together for quite a while. He told her about being in the Seabees and their work at Okinawa. It was so touching to see this 83-year old and 13-year old relate so well across the many years of their age differences. He was able to make her understand those times as no one else ever could. I have never heard him speak as much as he did that night.

Besides meeting one of her great-uncles and aunts she had never really known, and this perfect learning experience, she has a greater appreciation for these veterans. Her teacher had said this would most likely be the last class to have this assignment as there are so few WWII veterans still living. I got two valentines from this: one is 1944 and another 60+ years later when I hosted this awesome (as the kids would say) meeting.

February 2, 2007

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