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30-Love Letters from Vietnam: Is Passion Love?
A Palestinian Love Story
- Mideast Discord Thwarts A Palestinian Love Story : NPR
a story of a young couple in love separated by politics and conflict which reflects the angst felt by Tim and Kate during the Vietnam War.
3 October, 1969
(note: Tim might have mis-dated this letter since he talks about coming home on the 3rd. I would guess this letter was probably written on October 1 or beforehand and that Tim simply had the 3rd in his psyche!)
Hello my love. I hope this letter finds you smiling. Thank you for your last letter, Kate. As for that, thank you for all your letters for they mean so much to me. But your expression of your need for me left my heart full of emotion - happiness because the woman I love, need, respect, and admire, feels these things for me; humility, for only with God's help could I provide the strength of character worthy of you; hope, for with you by my side there's nothing I'm not capable of. Thank you for not waiting until after your lesson plans before writing. (Just kidding). I hope I don't interfere with them. I'm grateful for your gentle chastisement of my lack of presumptuousness. From now on, my love, I'll "assume to presume."
Well thanks to my "mental genius" I think I'm becoming adjusted to E2. But I must confess, it hasn't been easy. Hmmm! I wonder if that's a reflection of God's attitude toward me. The CO has been on a P.T. kick lately. So we've had P.T. everyday after school. Perhaps it's a good thing. It will keep me in shape for O.C.S. (editor's note: Officer's Candidate School). But it is an inconvenience. We have little free time as it is. Speaking of OCS, I know it's going to be difficult, but I've developed the outlook that gives me strength and hope. All I have to do is accept the impossible, do without the indispensable, and bear with the intolerable. Simple. Actually all my strength and hope is taken from you.
We've been getting into more complicated and more interesting radios. School itself is not hard to take; it's the army Mickey Mouse that makes Fort Gordon miserable.
I've applied for a three day pass over the first weekend in Oct (3-6), I made it through the preliminary "ok". All I need now is the CO's signature. I long to see you again, Kate. If God is willing, I will.
Well, Iv'e got to close now. It's getting late.
The Big Dummy
(editor's note: referring to Tim's apparent concern for being "presumptuous" about the relationship and Kate's assurance that he needn't be)
Kate's Comments Re: This Letter
Dear Reader of the "Tim and Kate" letters,
I struggle to discern what part of this letter might be puzzling to you. If you've been following the series, you know that there is a dilemma within these two young people. (It's easier for me, at times, to talk about them (us) in the third person).
The first dilemma throughout this time is Kate's pacifism in light of Tim's enlistment. (In truth, I felt Tim was also a pacifist at heart who got caught up in enlisting in Vietnam because his grades were slipping which ultimately was a result of the intensity of our relationship.) Hence, there was a degree of guilt that I felt for his enlisting in the first place.
But that is not the dilemma this letter addresses. The most important issue which was driving the relationship in October of 1969, was Tim and Kate's Catholic upbringing and the concept of abstinence from sex before marriage which was ingrained into their young Catholic school minds since their kindergarten years. After Tim's first leave home from Basic Training in Ft. Campbell, KY, it was obvious to both of them that the physical intensity of this relationship was heating up to a critical point. On the eve of Tim's second leave (the point at which this letter was written), both Tim and Kate knew this conflict would be the major focus of his time at home - whether they were going to go ahead and shun what they had been told throughout their upbringing or "be strong" and wait to "sleep together."
The internal conflict that both Tim and Kate wrestled with hardly seems relevant in the year 2009. Given the fact that Kate was 24 and had already finished college and was beginning her career; given the fact that Tim was 22 and almost finished with his engineering degree; given the fact that both had professed their love and had decided to marry; and given that fact that this was wartime, even Dr. Phil and Dr. Laura might say that it would have been better for the two of them to go ahead and express this physical part of their relationship instead of allowing this issue to be the enduring dilemma when other factors might be more critical.
So what exactly is the point of this letter that can be relevant to today's society? Is it the question of whether we should question passion? Is it the question of whether it's wise to preach abstinance? Is it the analysis of the potential longevity of long distance relationships? After searching the web with keywords of love versus passion, the passion of love, gibran on love, dr phil relationships and sex, eric fromm the art of loving, and so on, I've decided that the question is not related to the relationship between passion and enduring love The question, it seems to me, is how to make inevitable passion enduring.
Asking the Difficult Questions
Of course I am not talking about the passion of extraneous relationships outside of given vows or of the passion of unhealthy individuals, those who are too young to make life-long decisions or those experiencing mid-life crisis. The passion I'm talking about is the passion between two emotionally healthy and mature adults. It seems to me, then, that the most important factor to consider when two people are in the throes of love is whether or not their relationship is compatible and has the capability of lasting. To discover this, each person has to be brave enough to ask the questions that are pertinent to deciding on a life together even if they are separated by circumstances outside of their control.
Should Tim and Kate have stopped their focus on what to do when they next saw each other on Tim's leave from Ft. Gordon? I'm sure they couldn't have even if they tried. But included in all of their discussions should have been a "feeling out" of each other's views on those "unromantic" questions of compatibility. The internet is filled with resources, guides, and lists that relate to the questions young couples should be asking of each other. Oprahhas a list of questions to ask before marriage, and your own search will reveal lists of questions that are important to you. It's interesting to me, as I read these lists of questions to ask before marriage, that Tim and I never asked these questions to each other directly and probably knew the answer to only two: whether we wanted children and our religious beliefs. Would asking those questions have changed anything? I doubt it. BUT, they would have created a basis for more clearly undertaking what was to lie ahead for us. So I say to any young person reading this letter, don't be afraid to use the inventories of compatibility that are available to you. If you get some answer that doesn't feel right, talk to a counselor you trust and have them help you interpret the tests. Figure out what is driving your relationship because to embark on a journey in which you commit to another for life and plan to bring children into that mix, do all you can now to discover if you have the compatibility with your partner to last for as long as you've promised it to last.
Wouldn't Change a Thing
As for me, I am extremely grateful for having experienced this phase of my life and I say, "long live the passion that we feel at that most wonderful time of our life when we first love," and may we all figure out how to give that relationship the thoughtful analysis it deserves before marriage.