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American History
A FRIEND'S SOLILOQUY - 1943
contributed by Lu Hickey


At the advent of WWII, the US government had instituted the "draft" to solicit mostly young men to go to the military. There were few exceptions to this fact, an only son, health, religion or refusal. As the news came across the battery powered radios, families would gather around to listen to the latest news abroad.  At the involvement of the United States, letters were sent out to all youngsters at age 18:  GREETINGS:  This is your call to serve your country.

A family living in a quiet farming community in the Panhandle area of Oklahoma was vulnerable.  There were three sons in the household that met the criteria and that each received a letter: GREETINGS.  This was very disturbing and emotional for this family to see "Us three boys going to war" across the world to fight a force unbeknownst.

The three brothers, Arthur, was the oldest,' Burton was the middle and Ronald was the third,  did what they thought was a Godly thing to do. They were all three inducted into the military without exception while their friends, who could not or would not go, stayed behind.

In a turn of events, the three brothers were separated and sent into different branches of the military.  Arthur was in the Army Air Corp flying the Burma-India Hump.  Burton was in the Army Air Corp flying as an instrumentation tech.  Ronald was in the Army Infantry, serving in Germany, France, the pacific.

A year or so after the three brothers were in the military, a courier came to the farm home with a message.  Brother Burton had lost his life in England.  His remains would stay in England till the war ended and then he would be returned home for burial.

The war finally ended and Arthur and Ronald came back to the tranquil life on the farm as two changed men.  The horror of the ravages of war had taken their toll.  These two brothers, married and had a family but would never tell about WW II..

This poem was written in 1943, paying homage to all the boys who went to war.

"Carpet rags needed for blind veterans"
That is what my paper said tonight.
And I sit here and ponder, I see
the battered forms yonder of America's beloved youngsters,
Black, brown and white,
stumbling along because they have no sight.

"Carpet rags needed for blind veterans."
Dear God in Heaven!! Are wars never to end.
Is the "hill of Mars" to always be so rough and steep?
That their helping hands and gentle feet always be
bruised and spurned aside when they only want to go forward
to help a stricken friend.

"Carpet Rags needed for blind veterans"
My heart is filled with pain and sorrow as I envision them.
Tomorrow, fumbling with those numerous rolls of strings
from which they will fashion many beautiful things.
I curse the cruel blindness which all wars bring.

"Carpet rags needed for blind veterans".
Yes I am quite sure that's what my paper said.
I know it was meant to be a useful worth, but it should
have been a flamboyant announcement!
To seek this aid, it should have read:
"Let us give them the veils we borrowed from the Blue Fairy instead.

The carpet rags this gentle Scottish mother was referring to, was the strips of cloth given to the veterans in the hospitals to use to make rag rugs.

Burton's remains were brought in on the train accompanied by two uniformed military in 1948.  He was buried with honors in the family plot.  I never knew my brother, I was only six when he went away to fight and lose for his country.  He died so that others could live.

Mesa Verde, Colorado Camp
March 4, 1939

Dear Dad,

Just a few lines to let you know I am well.   It is snowing out here and will probably keep it up for a week.

Dad, do you think you can send me about $3.00 out of this next check?  I am ordering a uniform and need that much more to finish it out.  I know it will be hard to let that much go, but I thought you would send it to me.

This darn place is getting on my nerves.   Extra duty worse than in the Army, got to have new clothes every week.  We're so far from town that it takes two weeks to get laundry back.  I am fed up with it.   Well, write and let me know if you can send the money.

This is the last I will ever write for, so help me if you can..

Your son,

Burton.

English people ask an Oklahoma soldier about Chicago gangsters...

1943..

"Everyone I talk to wants to go to America--I don't blame them, I do too."

writes PFC Burton Williams, who is in England, to his mother Mrs. R.S. Williams of Turpin Oklahoma.

Mr. and Mrs. Williams have recieved two letters from their son recently.  In the first, he says: " I am having quite a time.  These English are a swell lot.  They like the Yanks.  I guess it is because we have so much in common."

I may get a bicycle, that's the only way to travel they have here except walking.  I don't suppose I could even find a horse to ride.  I would love to take a horse-back ride.

Not far from me, are two or three English farm families.  I have talked with some of them and they enquire of the gangsters in Chicago, Indians and Cowboys.  I tell them of the ranches and farms back home and the many acres of land on which the cows graze.  You see, Mom, England is about the size of Wisconsin.  They find it hard to believe that in Texas some ranches are as big as half of England.

We get our pay in English money.  The Yank PFC gets as much as an English second Looie, So you see our wages are a lot higher.   We have a lot of money and nothing to spend it on.

I get 7 packs of smokes, one box of cookies, 2 razor blades. 3 bars of candy,2 cigars, one cake of soap, one bottle of coke, 2 boxes of matches.  I have a ration card for 25 weeks. Above is my weeks ration.

I like England. but it's no place for me.

The second letter:

I guess harvest is over and the war is still on..When will it end?

Well, send those cows over here and the boys will help milk them...They'd do anything for a cup of fresh milk..All we get is powdered milk mixed with water, it's sure a mess.I hate that stuff and the powdered eggs, the soldiers won't eat them.

I may get a trip to London soon.  I will get you a souvenier from Shakespeare's home.  You will have to wait till I come home to hear about the rest of the trip, all I can say is::" it is too wet to plow!".

I have a few Scottish pals, they are a swell lot.  I am trying to master their brogue they talk..I already sound like Sherlock Holmes.

I finally got a bicycle. They all call it a "wheel" here.  It is a contest to see who has the fastest bike.

Your son,

Burton

Burton did not get to tell his story of England to his mother, he came home in 1948 in a pine box.



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