Letters to a Lost Soldier: Celebrating Lincoln’s birthday and Valentine’s Day

Dear Daddy,
(I originally wrote to you in February, 1945) My class is getting ready to celebrate Lincoln’s birthday and Valentine’s Day. My teacher wrote on the board: “Fourscore and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent a new nation, conceived in liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal…... that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom – and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.” It is a reminder, according to my teacher, of why we have sent so many of our citizens to fight in wars on other shores, to preserve our freedom and our way of life.
I want the war to be over soon and for you to be found so you can return home. I don’t want to think about war anymore, but I am reminded about it everywhere I go. Even on the streetcar, where a poster says, “A slip of the lip will sink a ship.” On the radio, we are urged to buy war bonds and at school we are told to collect salvage for the war effort. Several students in my school have learned that their fathers are also Missing in Action and some have been notified that their fathers have been Killed in Action. I hope we don’t receive any more telegrams.
I would rather think about Valentine’s Day and remember when I went shopping with you for Mommy’s presents. You always picked the dollar card at the top of the rack – the one with the puffy red heart. I could only reach the 10-cent row at the bottom of the rack and picked a card there. You bought a box of chocolate candy and a bunch of red roses then. I don’t want to give up hope that you will be here for Valentine’s Day.
I asked Bepa for money so I could buy red construction paper and white doilies to make Valentines cards for my classmates and he said that Valentine’s Day is not a Jewish holiday and we don’t celebrate it. “It’s an American holiday, Sam,” said Mimi and she told him to give the money to me. We are making mailboxes in school and will deliver Valentines next week. I am going to make cards for everyone in my class, my teacher, and friends in the neighborhood. My friend Roberta’s mother, lets me practice on her piano after school. Roberta and I have matching reversible raincoats and we play a game every day, trying to guess which side of the raincoat each one will wear on the way to school. I like the plaid coat, but when it’s raining I have to wear the raincoat outside. We walk to and from school most days and it’s so much fun being with her. I wish she was my real sister. Her father is very kind to me and always asks about you. He said he is 4F and that’s why he’s not in the service. I see Aunt Miriam’s husband’s truck when I am walking home for lunch and wonder if he is also 4F. I am going to make Valentines for them and everyone who has been nice to me. That includes almost all the people I know except for ahem. Mimi tells me not to gossip.
I will make a beautiful Valentine for you, Daddy, and hide it in one of your books, so you will have it when you return home by some miracle. My Brownie leader is a Jewish-Christian lady (whatever that means) and she says that we should never stop believing in miracles, that the Jews were brought out of Egypt by Moses and a miracle and our whole history is filled with miracles like Chanukah, Purim and Passover. My teacher said it was a miracle that President Lincoln saved the United States and it will be another miracle when we win this war with Germany and Japan. I am praying for the miracle of seeing you again.