Wednesday, April 22, 2015

MIA Notification Letters

Getting the WWII Facts

I’m in my favorite place to write, Shell Point near Beaufort, SC. In the weeks I’ve been here, I’ve completed the fourth overhaul of a WWII coming of age story with a 12 year-old girl as the point of view (POV). I’m now working on the sequel.

There’s a soldier in the story. World War II remains a pinnacle of societal failure for the 20th Century. I hope its stories will never die. If nothing else, it showed us in black-and-white that we might very well destroy human life on our planet.

Years ago when I was writing a feature article for a Lexington County periodical (The FairView News), I interviewed local veterans, though many of them were reluctant to talk of wartime experiences. James Mosley (Leesville, SC) had been on a ship attacked by a kamikaze. Leland Rawls (Wagener, SC) survived days floating in an Asian sea after his ship went down. He said the survivors talked and sang at night to try to keep track of one another. It was a miracle he lived to tell his story.

Yesterday I spent a lot of time on the web searching for original notification letters sent by the Army to families of soldiers missing in action.* As is often the case, I spent as much time reading as writing. Statistics are boring to me, but this one shocked me. After WWII, there were 79,000 unaccounted war dead.** As of 2012, there were still 73,000 missing. By now, those families who endured the heartache of losing loved ones but not losing hope are dying out.

It is easier to forget than to change our ways. I mean that as no criticism of the USA fighting against the Nazis. That an educated, cultured, and industrial society such as Germany should go on a rampage, setting in motion the war, is evidence that we can’t relax and assume governments will understand the stakes and negotiate with fairness. When I’m in a bad mood, I can believe our own country is too aggressive in its international relations, all in the name of establishing peace.

By comparison, in 1973 there were 2,646 MIAs from the Vietnam War. Maybe that’s encouragement—that we’ve learned to kill ourselves with less ferocity.

1 comment:

Ed Hooper said...


Great blog. Can we love a place or thing? Probably not like we can a person, but it is fascinating how some places speak to us and others do not. People love the sea or the countryside or city; each beckons them. And the word love gets overused, but often it's the only word the applies. It sounds like you love that place, but it must be in a different category of love. Good subject.

Look forward to your book!