Letters to a Lost Soldier: Independence Day 1945 and the Chicago military police

Dear Daddy,
(I originally wrote in July, 1945) I’m sad you didn’t go with us to the Fourth of July parade and American Legion display of fireworks. Mommy said you wanted to stay away from crowds after the incident with the Military Police in downtown Chicago.
Two MPs approached us as we left the movie on State Street. I thought they came to welcome you home. It was hot and muggy outside the cool movie house. We moved our seats at least three times because people near us were cracking and smacking chewing gum and it got on your nerves. You were irritated. You loosened your tie. Your shirt was rumpled and stuck to your back with sweat. The MPs said you were AWOL and put you in a van. They held your arms so you couldn’t get away.
We stood there stunned. Were we in Nazi Germany or Chicago? Mommy was helpless and cried all the way home on the El. She called Uncle Eddie, who came to the rescue. They found your orders in a drawer, which you probably should have carried with you. Uncle Eddie marched to headquarters wearing his American Legion cap and presented the official papers from your commander stating you were on furlough until August 18. The Military Police released you with a warning to look sharp. They offered no apology for your inconvenience and setback.
It was terrible for you after your experience in Nazi Germany as a Prisoner of War. I learned at school that we are innocent until proven guilty. The MPs said you were guilty of being AWOL until you proved otherwise. Do they operate under a different set of laws? You fought in Europe to free oppressed people and prevent Hitler from coming here to rule over us. You were oppressed right here in the USA.
President Truman delivered a Statement to the Nation on the radio. He said, “Here at home, on this July 4, 1945, let us honor our Nation’s creed of liberty, and the men and women of our armed forces who are carrying this creed with them throughout the world.” The Military Police took your liberty away.
You said the MPs acted like the Gestapo. Was it a crime to loosen your tie and have a rumpled shirt because of the Chicago heat? A Chicago policeman would not arrest you for that. You were an innocent man treating your family to a downtown movie and you were taken from us by MPs looking for a victim. They wrongfully accused you of being AWOL.
I hope you can get over that unfair incident. I hope I can also get over it. I’m sad it happened to you in the United States of America, which is supposed to be the greatest country on earth. Today was a special day to celebrate our Independence from tyrants. We still have tyrants.
General MacArthur’s forces liberated the Philippines from Japanese rule on this 169th Anniversary of the Declaration of Independence. The Stars and Stripes were flown over Hitler’s Barracks in Berlin in a ceremony with a 48-gun salute. The tyrants are being defeated in other countries. We need to defeat the tyrants at home.
It’s hard for me to believe that some people in the world are not free. I thought we were free. I am lucky to live in a country where our founding fathers declared: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”
How could the Military Police take away your rights? You are a United States citizen, a soldier serving in the United States Army, and are on leave. You only want to be with your family and recover from your experiences as a Prisoner of War in Nazi Germany. No wonder you are very upset.
You and our whole family need to heal from the effects of war. We all need help and rehabilitation. We need protection from oppression. Now.