Wallace's Tent on Salisbury Plain

Wallace's Tent on Salisbury Plain
Writing a letter with candle on clipboard, see Oct. 16 letter

Thursday, August 4, 2016

November 23, 1943 [sic] Thursday

Somewhere In France

Dear Honey,

Your wandering husband is really putting in some busy days now—but it’s duties that I like and that are excellent experience. Since I last wrote I have achieved the impossible, namely, to get a man acquitted in a court martial. As defense council, I made it impossible for them to pin even “drunk & disorderly” on an original charge that carried a 5 year sentence and a dishonorable discharge. Do you mind if I brag about it to you only? It’s the first court martial acquittal I’ve ever seen, and my first case as chief defense council. I have been ass’t defense council several times tho, you know.

Thanksgiving today—did you have a big meal at the Russell’s? I hope so. We didn’t have an official day off, but C Company, revelling in new independence from Battalion, took a holiday. I, however, a Special Service Officer ran around to get a movie to show in the local school house—(guess what, it was “Christmas Holiday”), and as PX Officer I went to battalion to get our weekly ration—tomorrow I will set up a PX for C Company in the local café.

I would very much like to see the movie “Wilson” that you praise so highly. I have always been interested in him, and once when I was in high school had an idea of writing something about him. I never did decide whether it would be a play or a biography, so you can see how far I got. But there was a theme there, and even now it seems that his life and death provide material for a perfect tragedy. His lofty ideals, gigantic efforts and ultimate failure and death make an excellent study. What will happen after this war, I don’t know. It will not result in Utopia, I know that. It will be a grim place maintained by force and run for and by a certain group of nations. It may well result in a new version of a “Pax Romana,” but I am skeptical of the possibility of any peace based on the mutual agreement of all people. Things are not shaping that way at all now. However, a sort of world machinery of government may be developed which, altho not based on mutual agreement, might conceivably be the basis of such a world government in time. A world tyranny might evolve into a world democracy.

Recently you mentioned wanting to do work for returning wounded veterans, or at least thinking about it. Such services are an excellent thing, and offer a chance to perform a real duty that is quite different from that of the flag-waving female who thinks she can win the war by wearing a uniform. Before you do anything, tho, I can warn you that it would not always be pleasant work. You would perhaps be working with the badly maladjusted cases. I have seen plenty of cases not considered bad enough for special treatment, that really made me hesitate. I think it would be a chance to help people, Hon, and I’d be proud to have you in it. Do not think it would consist of playing waltzes for a group of Sunday School boys, tho. Rehabilitation is not just another word for a furlough—many men need to be civilized all over again. I can understand your wanting to do something, Honey, and have been a little worried at times because you did have such a long time before KTC could enter the picture. Some work like that might get you into a new circle of lively friends and be the best way to keep your horizons broadening. Maybe because I want to study myself, I have overstressed the importance of school to you. There are a thousand other ways of getting an education, and any of these you might pick to work hard at would be fine as far as I’m concerned. It’s the stimulation to life you get that is important. The thing I would dislike most is to have you become intrenched in the petty, housewifely routine of Keene women. By overlooking a few earthy good points, I can say that the “grapevine” represents the height of pettiness, conventionalism, futility, and sophistry. It could be pictured as the personification of what we are fighting against. Do not be afraid to leave it and rise above it. They feel the have the world wrapped in cellophane, when actually it’s so big you can’t even get a string around it.

Naturally taking care of Grammy holds you to Keene physically to some degree. But geography isn’t the main thing that molds people, it’s their attitude towards it. I have no doubt that Miss Ackerman knows well how to be in Keene, and yet above it. She might be a good person to seek advice from when responsibility and loneliness come creeping up. She has had both for years and seems to have won over them. As for Grammie, it is necessary to be ready for anything. Plan now what you will do, and be mentally ready. When I think of death, I think of the phrase “This is not the end.” Death has a very final appearance, but it is not the end of things. All the good things you love people for go on forever and are immortal. Truth and love and humanity keep springing up and continuing on. Thoughts you have will be thought again and eventually become realities; and will make bodies and minds exactly like yours happy and harmonious. The discordant things you feel with be felt again and again until some lucky body discovers a way to bring that feeling into perfect tune with eternal reality and there will be no more discord.

Every person needs someone to lean on; a person alone does find death to be the end of everything. The thing you lean on in other people is spiritual, however; so remember, honey, you can always lean on me and I am always with you. You are not alone. I love you as I have always, and am close to you even know.

With all my love,


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