Wednesday, April 9, 2014

We Must Not Forget: A Selection from All my Love, George...

We Must Not Forget
A Selection from: All my Love, George...Letters from a WWII hero
Written by Darla Noble

Over the past few decades our country has been somewhat at odds over our involvement in the fight for freedom for other countries, but that wasn’t the case during World War II. No, not since the years of fighting the tyranny of Nazism and Japan’s thirst for power have we been as united as we were back then.

While we certainly would never want to experience such a time as this again, it is imperative that we not let current and future generations forget that what we enjoy today came at a tremendous cost for others…others who are quickly fading from our population.

All my love, George…Letters from a WWII hero is a must-read in order that we do not forget. The book is a collection of letters written by Army medic, George Burks, to his family from the time he arrived at basic training in 1942 until a week prior to his death in the Battle of Luzon in March of 1945.

George Burks
Following each of George’s letters are the thoughts and memories of George’s younger brother -a brother who was just twelve years old when he gave his brother a final hug good-bye. These thoughts and memories give readers insight as to what it was like to grow up in America at this pivotal time in our nation’s history, what it was like to be a gold-star family during the war and it ‘begs’ readers to remember that the reason we enjoy life as we know it is because of George and hundreds of thousands of others like him.

Those who read All my love, George… will come to know the kind, gentle and honorable young man George was, grieve his family’s loss as if it were their own and find themselves wishing George could have written just one more letter…the one that said, “I’m coming home”.

An excerpt from All my love, George…Letters from a WWII hero.

“We knew. We didn’t have to open the telegram. We didn’t even need the telegram. The look on the face of the men in uniform standing at our door was enough to let Mom and I know that George was gone.”

“Yes, it really did happen that way-the way it happens in the movies. The telegram informing you that your loved one is either dead or missing in action is delivered to you in person. Yes, a real person hands it to you but there is no personal warmth or interaction. If I had to choose a word to describe it, I think that word would be mechanical.”

            “I hadn’t been home from school very long that day when they arrived. I still remember thinking how glad I was that Mom hadn’t been alone when she’d gotten the news. I was fourteen and the only one of us kids left at home. But that was plenty old enough to feel my own pain and know I couldn’t possibly understand hers. I did what I could, though. I remember putting my hand on her shoulder when she sat down (dropped into) in the chair. She was shaking so badly. It took her a while to bring herself to open the envelope. I can still remember how I could feel her shoulder shaking under my hand when she finally took a big, deep breath and slid her finger underneath the edge of the envelope. But it wasn’t until after she actually read the words printed on that telegraph that the tears came-both hers and mine.”

“Somehow I managed to go ahead and do my chores. Mom probably insisted-thinking the distraction would help pass the time until Dad came home. As I milked and fed the cow and gathered the eggs, I remember feeling like it wasn’t real and that when Dad got home everything would be ok. It wasn’t. Dad was a feed and tobacco salesman and spent a lot of time driving from store to store servicing his customers. The stores he went to were scattered around the little communities in and around Miller County, MO where I grew up. There was no way to get a hold of him so he could come home early. We just had to wait. Thinking about it just now, I feel so sorry for Mom. I wonder how many times she went over and over in her mind just how she would tell Dad about the telegram-or if she even would. Maybe she would just hand it to him.”

“As it turned out she didn’t have to do either. He could tell the minute he walked through the door that we had received a piece of paper that turned my family’s life upside down.”

“The days immediately following are vague. Mom and Dad did not make me go to school the next day. Dad did go to work, though. I think. I honestly don’t remember. What I do remember is feeling strange-like I was on the outside of my life looking in. I remember my older sisters and brothers calling a couple of times a day to check on Dad and Mom. It was especially hard for my sister, Helen. It had been only a few months since my brother-in-law, Charles, had died while serving in PNG (Papa New Guinea). Losing Charles had been hard enough. Why did we have to lose George, too? And where in the world was Luzon? I’d never even heard of such a place.” “I also remember that when I did go back to school a couple of days later, it took everything I had to try to feel and act normal. I remember thinking I wasn’t sure how to act. Would anyone understand that things were different in my life now? Would anyone understand that my brother was dead? I told some of my buddies, but I think they already knew. Most everyone had heard the news. Crocker, MO is a small town and the saying about news traveling fast in a small town is true. Some of my classmates said things like ‘I’m sorry about your brother’ or ‘George was a great guy’. Some of the teachers told me to pass on their sympathies to my parents and others told me I could be proud that George died a hero. I’d heard that already-it was in the telegram we’d received, but I have to say that I didn’t want George to be a hero. I wanted him to be alive.”

George and several of his fellow soldiers with a Japanese flag they captured early on in the battle.
George is in the back row with the green mark above his head.

Feb. 18, 1945 Luzon

Dear Dad,
This is really a beautiful Sunday morning. I meant to go to church but got started at writing letters. I got everyone’s mailed. Received a late letter dated January 9 letter from Harold. He seemed in good spirits and for once wasn’t gripping about something. Benny’s letter of December 31 arrived a few days ago. Wynette wrote how much Benny has grown and Inah says he’s really a handsome guy. His picture didn’t look like I thought it would.

The snow and ice sounds great. On the line I went without a shirt as much as possible. It was hot, and got almost as tan as the natives.

The one thing I’ve daydreamed a lot about is going out into the garden and picking some ripe tomatoes, some good cold milk, and fresh eggs. One afternoon we spent talking about good things to eat. We are eating from a kitchen now, but it isn’t much better than the field rations we had.

Two days ago, we got our bags, and don’t think we didn’t enjoy a clean set of clothes. I never realized an army cot could be such a grand bed before, either. The ground gets hard and cold after so many nights.

Yes, I really am feeling good. Best I’ve felt since New Zealand. Have lost only a few lbs. of weight, but about 4-6 inches from my waist.

The natives are doing most of the work pitching camp. Our clothes have already been done by the women. Can get a set of cottons washed for fifteen cents. Native labor is 50 cents a day. No need to write how anxious and glad they were to see us. Our area is very nice here. A stream runs within 20 yards. of this tent. There are large shade trees, too, and a grand breeze. The area is very clean, and I haven’t seen a fly yet. We sure had plenty on the hill.

Rotation is still a laugh. Some fellows have been over here several months I know. One officer in this company was at Buna, and treated by Charles’ outfit. Told me some interesting things. We had three fellows leave for home in December, none in Jan., and one in February. Now that we are having a rest, the quota may be raised, but I doubt it. Please don’t plan on my coming until I get there. I feel sure it will be before fall, though.Should get to see more of the island before long. Hope to write more of it then.

Tell everyone hello. Please don’t worry. I’m as safe as being at home.

All my love,

George

The marker in the cemetery in the South Pacific where George Burk is buried. The prominent cross is his.

About the Author
Darla Noble is a native of mid-Missouri where she lives with her husband of thirty-three years, John. Darla’s love of writing began in the fourth grade; after meeting up and coming children's author, Judy Blume, who, by the way, autographed her copy of "Are you there, God...it's me, Margaret".

Darla's love for writing and family makes her work sought after in the Christian market, parenting and family resources and ghostwriting for educators and inspirational speakers. But now it is time for Darla to begin telling her own stories. “All my love, George” is sure to make Darla Noble one of your favorite non-fiction writers.


For More Information
All my Love, George...at Barnes and Noble
Darla Noble


Do you enjoy the articles and features that The History Girl produces each week? 
If so, consider a donation to keep the movement going!

Reactions:

0 comments:

Post a Comment

Thanks for the comments!