This letter, written by an American Pilot during the Korean War, is a beautiful example of the power of love in the face of the horror and uncertainties involved in war.
TO THE BEST WIFE A MAN EVER HAD:
Honey, I am writing to say a few things that I might leave unsaid if I should depart this world unexpected-like. In this flying business you never can tell when you might all of a sudden get unlucky and wake up dead. I suppose this shows me up for being an old sentimental fool, but I thought if I could make sure you know how I feel about such things it might be a comfort.
First of all, let’s face one fact–everybody ends up dead. Think of all the infants and children and people who had the misfortune to die before they got much of anything out of life, and then think of all I got out of it.
Even if I should die the day after writing this, I am still one of the luckiest people who ever lived, and you know it. When you come right down to it, I’ve done just about everything I’ve wanted to do and seen about everything I’ve wanted to see. Sure, I’d like to stick around while the boys are growing up, and have fun with you once they’ve done doing that and when we have time again. But you and I agree so closely on how to raise a family, I’m sure that the boys are going to be all right. And I’ve had enough fun with you to last a lifetime.
Don’t let the memories of me keep you from marrying again, if you run across somebody fit to be your husband, which would be hard to find, I know. But you’re much too wonderful a wife and mother to waste yourself as a widow. Life is for the living. (That’s not original, I’m sure.)
So get that smile back on your face, put on some lipstick and a new dress, and show me what you can do toward building a new life. Just remember me once in a while–not too often, or it’ll cramp your style–and as long as I’m remembered, I’m not really dead. I’ll still be living in John, Bill, and Al, and Dan, bless their hearts. That’s what they mean by eternity, I think.
My love as always,
Jack Sweeney, stationed in Bermuda, died a few weeks later when his plane crashed in the Atlantic.