Mail Call in the Military
WWII enlisted 4 of my brothers. Army, Airforce, and Navy. They came home periodically on furloughs. They had such pride in their uniforms. From the minute they opened their duffel bag, the tales began. How to fold and roll uniforms to keep them from getting wrinkled. The different ways to wear the hat. How to spit shine their shoes. How to salute. My eyes were wide with wonder. I admired every move they made and every word they spoke.
My brother Archie, who served in the Navy impressed me most. The family would gather around him and listen to his stories. His lips were like an instrument, as he whistled all the trumpet calls. I memorized all of them. Mail call was particularly impressive. I could picture every soldier hustling around a man with a mail bag wanting to hear a word from home. Archie said, "They yell out your last name, and you yell back.... 'here'! Then the mail comes sailing in your direction. Sometime I don't show up though, because y'all don't write much." He wasn't complaining. He knew that daddy had palsied hands, and mama's education was limited. But it was certainly a wake up call for me.
I vowed that very moment, I would do the best I could to write him often. I was in the second grade and was getting gold stars for cursive writing. I was eager to show it off. So I wrote. Not so interesting, but I wrote.
Dear Archie, How are you? I am fine. Mama said hello. Daddy is at the store. We had pork chops for supper. I liked the tea. It was sweet. I got a gold star today for writing. (here is a x zample). Love, Ann
At the bottom of the letter in my very best handwriting, I wrote: 'Archie is good, Ann is bad'. I wrote it three times. Well, he was on a secret mission! The mail had to be airlifted to his boat. And it was censored! Here's the funny part. They thought [Archie is good, Ann is bad] was some kind of code. They called him in for questioning. He was laughing his head off. "Why that's just my little sister, showing me how she can write cursive," he said. But they kept a constant watch on him while they investigated it. Low and behold, they sent two Navy personnel out to the rural school in Tennessee to verify that I was his little sister. That was my first realization of THE POWER OF THE PEN!
Today, I contribute regularly to the Veterans Administration. I love them. And I'm proud to be an American! And I might add, I have every confidence in their investigative responsibilities.