World War II history has always been a special interest of mine. I’m in awe of the bravery shown by the millions of men and women who served in the military and the unified efforts of the Americans at home, and, since three of my grandparents served in the military (and the fourth worked as a Rosie the Riveter and, for a brief time, with OSS) I grew up hearing family stories from that era. But in 2007, D-Day became far more personal to me.
That year I was given a box of 300 letters my grandfather had written to my grandmother during World War 2, from the time they met in June 1943 until he returned home in September 1945. The letters were carefully organized by postmark date – Gram even wrote the date she received it on the envelope. Included was a letter home written June 7, 1944.
Grandpa Steve was an Indiana boy who’d enlisted and was based at Twentynine Palms in the California desert. He and his pals would take the train into Los Angeles every time they could get a weekend pass. Grandma Dorothy was a red-headed, Irish/French native Californian who loved to dance the night away.
Growing up we heard the “how we met” story a million times. Grandpa and his friends went to the USO to “order up” some girls to take dancing that night, and when Grandpa and his friend saw my stunning grandmother they both wanted her to be their date.
They flipped a coin, Grandpa won, and the rest is history.
After a whirlwind six-week courtship the two were engaged, and shortly thereafter Grandpa’s unit was moved to Fort Polk, Louisiana. He dubbed her his “Chin Up” girl, probably due to her sending him pictures like this…
…and they tried to schedule a time to get married. (There was a lot more family and soap opera drama going on during that time – but I’ll leave that for the screenplay.)
Finally, Grandpa’s unit moved to Fort Dix, NJ, and they knew they’d be heading to Europe soon. Over
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