About this blog

As the author of this blog, Karen L Garner Martin Messick, I am the daughter of an American soldier, Wilbur (Bill) C. Garner, Sr. and Women's Royal English Navy service woman (British Wren) Gwendoline Rosa Wilkins, who met and married during World War II. They lived and loved for over 50 years before Mother passed in 2000. When she did I helped Dad with every day chores when I could. One day I was helping him clear things out and I lifted a plastic bag out of the seat of Mom's piano stool, asking Dad, "Whats in this bag?" to which he replied, "Just some of Mary's old letters." Mary, his older sister, was still alive at the time, residing in an assisted living facility, suffering from Alzheimer's disease. I put the letters back in the piano seat thinking he did not want me to open the letters.
When Dad passed two years later, I inherited Mary's letters.
When I began to read them, I found they were mostly letters from Dad to Mary while he was in World War II ("The War"). I could not put them down. I wished I had opened them the day I first saw them so that Dad and I could have had conversations about them, but that was not to be...so as I read through these "Letters to Mary" I began to get a glimpse into Dad's young years when he met Mom and his time as a soldier. I have researched events during World War II to enhance my understanding of what was happening in the war as each letter came to broaden my understanding of what he might have been experiencing. I knew he landed on the beaches of Normandy, France D-Day plus 1 as he recounted his memory of that day to me when he was dying from Leukemia. It was horrifying. There were also letters from a companion Mary had met while in Minneapolis, he had been deployed overseas. I have entwined them chronologically with Dad's letters as it gives a greater dimension to the war itself. I intend to editorialize as necessary to explain personal relationships and situations as the story unfolds through the "Letters to Mary." I welcome any questions, comments and feedback. As the "Greatest Generation" fades away, I felt compelled to share these letters and story in hopes of continuing the legacy they left for the world. Let us never forget the untold years and lives that were sacrificed for freedom!
If you have stumbled upon this blog I have added a blog archive at the bottom of the blog page. Continue to scroll down to access the Blog Archive. The posts are chronologically listed and to follow the story it is best to start with the first post in December 2013.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Epilogue: Dear Mary "Letters from The War"

“Wisdom consists of knowing how to distinguish the nature of trouble, and in choosing the lesser evil.” 

Niccolò Machiavelli, The Prince

When the United States entered "The War" the leaders of our country were wise to know the lesser evil. Though millions of men, women and children were lost in the war, many more are free and the world is surely a better place today as a result of the defeat of Hilter's Germany, Emperor Hirohito's Japan, and Mussolini's Italy in World War II.

World War II was the deadliest military conflict in history. Over 60 million people were killed, (though there are estimates today up to 80 million) which was over 2.5% of the world population. It is staggering to think of the human losses in "The War." (There is a table of deaths by country and very good information on casualties on Wikipedia.)
The tragic loss of human life as a result of "The War" in comparison to today's population, would be equal to literally wiping out all human life in the states of California, Texas and New York. It is unfathomable!

 The "Letters to Mary" however, would not exist had there been no war.

It was "The War" that brought Gwen and Bill and Henri and Mary together while spinning millions of other lives apart. It is hard to see through the horrors of war, and see the goodness of war, but indeed there is, though it may be diminished by the scale of tragedies.

It is hard for a human to even imagine the future paths of our lives, and yet so very easy to look back. We do not know and can not foresee our own fates and it is probably best that way! One thing for sure, one day our lives on this earth will end!

And this blog of "Letters to Mary" has also come to an end...

As we are approaching the 70th anniversary this June 6, 2014, of the landing of allied forces on the the beaches of Normandy France, the "Greatest Generation" is passing on and all but gone. 

Soon all their voices will be silent. Their lives committed to papers only. 

My hope for humanity would be from the lessons of "The War" that we not forget the evil forces of man that walk beside us and that we always know how to distinguish the nature of trouble, and that we will be given the wisdom of choosing the lesser evil. 

It is not possible to say why these letters survived or why I felt compelled to commit them to this blog....only that they did and I did. 

In closing and to share a few poignant quotes of relevance from Marcus Tullius Cicero


“The life given us, by nature is short; but the memory of a well-spent life is eternal.”


"The only excuse for war is that we may live in peace unharmed."


“To be ignorant of what occurred before you were born is to remain always a child. For what is the worth of human life, unless it is woven into the life of our ancestors by the records of history?” 

(This quote was supplied by my sister Carol Ann Garner Clements and led me to search for more closing quotes that had relevance to the end of this post and project)


“The life of the dead is placed on the memories of the living. The love you gave in life keeps people alive beyond their time. Anyone who was given love will always live on in another's heart.” 

“History is the witness that testifies to the passing of time; it illumines reality, vitalizes memory, provides guidance in daily life and brings us tidings of antiquities. 


“The function of wisdom is to discriminate between good and evil.”


And now I have to get on with my life!  I hope those who followed along enjoyed the journey! 

I am thankful to be the daughter of an American Soldier and his English bride.

Karen Lynne Garner Martin Messick 

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