"Sir, more than kisses, letters mingle souls; for, thus, friends absent speak."
John Donne

Family and Friends
February 2010

By now most of you have heard how these 400 letters were discovered and how busy I have been for several months putting them into binders.  There was a period when our dining-room table was covered with empty envelopes, scribbled notes, and bits of crumbling, yellowed paper.  I summarized each letter briefly, without reading most of them through, and then scanned them, page by page, into my computer.  There are about 700 scans in all.  It has been a remarkable experience, loaded with meaning on so many levels that I will have to wait until I work my way through all the letters before I can make sense of it all.

The sheer number of letters is extraordinary.  I can’t believe I wrote them.  How did I find the time?   Meeting me as I was more than sixty years ago has been like being introduced to a stranger.  I have been fascinated with how the salutations of the letters change as I evolve from an eighteen-year old into a newly-hatched “adult” of twenty-one.  And I watch myself becoming homesick as the geographical distance between my family and me suddenly becomes vast; and our separation grows longer, month-by-month.

In letter after letter, while reassuring my parents that I was safe, I would scare the hell out of them with descriptions that were unnecessarily loaded with vivid adjectives.  After the Normandy beachhead, and later in Holland and Germany, I learned to tone down the melodrama -- but I still seemed bent on keeping my family on the edge of their seats.  I can only imagine what it must have been like for the parents and wives of soldiers in the infantry, who were constantly in life-threatening danger.  In my letters, there are many times when I express my admiration for the men who were fighting nearby in the midst of unspeakable horror, and how aware I was that my own experiences paled in comparison with theirs.

Well, it’s time for the letters to speak for themselves.

Howard  (or, for those who don’t know me, Howard Goodkind)