Just in case you missed it . . . the online edition of today's New York Times highlights the survival of a cache of letters that servicemen wrote to Donna Reed during the Second World War. In most instances, these letters, which typically requested pinup photographs, were handled by studio personnel and then discarded. However, Reed kept 341 of these letters, and her children has just made them available to the public. Digitized copies of two letters are also available on the Times Web site.
These letters vividly chronicle the experiences of rank-and-file military personnel who served overseas. One of the letters was written by Sgt. Edward Skvarna, is now 84 and is pleasantly surprised that Reed kept his letters. Skvarna danced with Reed at a USO event and sporadically exchanged letters with her. He wrote the letter featured on the Times Web site while he was in the Marianas, but the letter and enclosed photographs document his time in India.
The other letter was written in April 1943 by Lt. Norman P. Klinker, who was in North Africa at the time and who succinctly contrasted the actuality of combat with Hollywood's depictions of it. Klinker was killed in action at Mount Porchia, Italy on 6 January 1944. His letter to Reed is a simple and poignant reminder of the real meaning of Memorial Day.