I began blogging shortly before my husband’s first deployment. I am not sure what prompted me to create an account but I am forever thankful that I decided to publicly document my experience of having a husband at war. The blog grew from being just a deployment diary into more of a ‘hey – this is our life’ blog but my posts about military life have always been the most popular and my favorite to write. I don’t share my experience as a military spouse in order to receive accolades or in effort to become blog-famous. I share because I am associated with a military that has fought two wars over a decade – a military that is 1% of our population and a volunteer force. I blog to document our story, which is just one of many. After all, everybody has a story.
After the bombing of Pearl Harbor, our country’s military found itself ill-equipped to fight two distant and different fronts – Europe and the Pacific. By 1942, 36 million men had registered for the draft. Many men volunteered instead of waiting to be drafted so they could choose their branch of service (this is route our grandfathers took). Approximately 16.1 million Americans served during WWII, with over 400,000 having lost their lives. There are so many stories of those who served during that era, and as the WWII population passes on, their stories are at risk of being forgotten.
As a young girl obsessed with softball, my favorite movie was A League of Their Own. The scene when Betty ‘Spaghetti’ Horn is informed, via telegraph, that her husband was killed overseas and the subsequent scene of Dottie Hinson’s husband surprising her with his return from war are permanently etched in my mind. It seems a bit silly to say that a Gary Marshall film kickstarted my appreciation for WWII stories, particularly love stories, but I am so grateful it did.
Thankfully, there are multiple efforts to record these amazing stories. One such example is Patchwork of Dependency, a multimedia look at the effects of WWII on Edwards County, Kansas. Funded by the Kansas Humanities Council, the project promotes the understanding of history, traditions, and ideas that have subsequently shaped the lives of people in small rural towns who came together to support each other and the war effort. Video interviews with two of the participants, Jean Titus and Kay Carney, recall what it was like to be in love with a soldier during WWII.
Books such as The Greatest Generation and Love Stories of World War II detail similar tales. One amazing story is one of Peggy Harris and 1LT Billie D. Harris. They were married for only six weeks before he deployed overseas. While on a mission over Nazi-occupied France, his plane was shot down and crashed in the woods near a small town in Normandy.
1LT Bille D. Harris never returned home. The United States could not give her a straight answer as to what happened to her husband. She finally learned of her husband’s resting place 60 years after his plane crashed, the story has a bittersweet ending.
These are just a few of the many stories about love and WWII. All of the wars our country has been involved in have similar stories woven through the bloodshed, including our current conflict. 2.5 million men and women have volunteered for duty in Afghanistan and Iraq since 2001 (source). There are countless stories about war and separation, this blog just happens to tell ours. Only time will tell how history will look back on OEF and OIF but I am forever thankful that technology has captured so many stories that examine the humanity that still exists during a time of war. Whenever I’m asked why I blog, the answer always seems to settle into wanting to document my experience of being married to a soldier during a time of war. It may not be a great literary work or even a passable publication. But it is my story. And one that I don’t ever want to forget.