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06-Love Letters from Vietnam: Insecurity of Young Love

Updated on September 8, 2009

9 June, 1969

Dear Tim,

My cookies couldn't have been that bad to have severed the bonds of communication. I was sure I had eaten all the burnt ones (oops, I mean the burnt one). Either you manage a letter in the next 5 1/2 weeks or you'll be getting pineapple-upside-down cake when you get home (known to be worse than shaum tote.)

Me thinks thee also had the triple scotch first upon arriving in downtown Clarksville.

Seriously I'm sorry that we weren't able to talk this weekend. Well, maybe another weekend.

If you happen to be indigent (I looked that up in the dictionary), destitute or otherwise broke, why not call collect? (It's faster anyway). Gee I feel like an advertisement for the telephone company.

How are things going, Tim? I hope ok. Did I tell you about singing "America" in church at Oshkosh? My throat got all lumpy and I couldn't stop the tears from coming when, in the second verse, we sang: "America, America, God heal thy every flaw. Confirm thy soul in self-control, they liberty in law."

That was beauty itself.

Know what? We only have 7 more days of school, praise the Lord. Two of those days are half days and one is going to be spent at the zoo and one at a picnic. (Oh, I labor so hard.)

Little Sally in my class who's hard of hearing played the piano in a recital today and was very good - poised, confident, and self-assured.

Nothing else spectacular has been occurring. 'Cepting I broke that dumb pipe underneath that stupid car of mine again. It's all your fault too. I went up a high driveway in order to get to the mailbox. My dad said I must have been going too fast, but I don't believe that - my car's bottom is just too low. The fella at the service station said he's going to put holsters on the side of my car because I drive like a cowboy. Oh, the abuse I must take! But I offer it up.


Well, it's 6:30 now and I'd like to get this in the mail.

I love you, Tim. Be happy. I'm pr;aying for that happiness for you. I hope perhaps I might be involved in bringing you some of that happiness. But - God's will be done. You know I'm here.

Take care


Today's Note From Kate

Link to Complete Index of Letters

Reading this particular letter that I wrote to Tim makes me a bit embarrassed. After reconstructing the sequence of events, however, I understand where the tone was coming from. This letter was written on June 9, a Monday. The letter Tim had written on the 7th in Episode 5 had obviously not arrived as yet. In that letter, Tim explains that the leave they promised on the weekend (during which time he was going to call) was cancelled. I had assumed he had leave and just hadn't called.

If Tim and my relationship had been further along at this point, I probably wouldn't have been as worried as I seem to have been (even though I tried hard to mask that feeling) in this letter.

Again, given the fact that Tim knew, that through much of my soul searching, I was ready to take a stand against the war in Vietnam and protest through petitions to the White House, etc., he nevertheless enlisted. This created the insecurity I faced throughout this time that he was in Basic. It was difficult to place myself in his shoes in regard to his decision. Our relationship and the hours we spent together were causing his grades to slip and there was news of a lottery for the draft that was to start any day. So trying to sort out if he were enlisting for us (i.e. having more of a "choice" to not go to Vietnam) or because of us was the task I was attempting.

If we imagine a young couple today who fell in love only 6 months before going off to war, would the same thing happen? It seems as if the Army doesn't allow cell phones in basic training. So a modern-day Kate whose new love had just enlisted might have the same nagging insecurity about the relationship in back of her mind.

It hurts my heart to read yahoo chats on the web from young people talking about the military. Basic training sounds exciting to them and a challenge. There is a romanticizing of going off to war - justĀ as there always has been. It's seems patriotic after all. But patriotism requires more than living by old paradigms that perhaps are incorrect. Patriotism requires study of the issues from both sides, without talk-show screaming rhetoric. It requires understanding of the politics of war, and certainly an understanding of the culture and the nature of the people we have been sent fight. It requires reading books like O'Brien's The Things They Carried, and All Quiet on the Western Front, and understanding the reality of war.

There is only one hope for this fragile world of ours it seems to me, and that it is the hope that President Obama has expressed today as he has in the past. " order to move forward, we must say openly the things we hold in our hearts, and that too often are said only behind closed doors. There must be a sustained effort to listen to each other, to learn from each other, to respect one another; and to seek common ground."


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