For the holiday season, the Center for American War Letters Archives “spruced” up a couple of our display cases. Along with some holly, ribbons, and ornaments, the displays show an array of letters and other materials sent home by soldiers around their favorite time of year (even if it wasn’t at the time!).
Of course, soldiers sent their loved ones letters, wishing them a Merry Christmas and thanking them for the chocolates or other goodies they received in care packages-turned-Christmas presents; but they also found inventive ways to “be home for the holidays.” They sent decorative V-Mail, which were forms that could include a letter that were later photographs and sent on microfilm to save on parcel weight, then printed in a small version on the other side of the ocean. They also sent menus, if they were lucky enough to be on a base or at the Red Cross when they celebrated their war time holiday.
Additionally, the Warrior of the Month for December highlights some items saved by Cpl. Meyer Cohen of the US Army during the Second World War. He saved tourist maps made for soldiers in Europe, Italian and French dictionaries, and of course his Christmas letters home. What makes his records an interesting addition to the Archives are the Jewish Prayer Books for Soldiers that he kept. Though a Jewish family, they celebrated Christmas and he could not wait to return home to his loved ones in 1945.