In honor of Veteran's Day and all the men and women who have served this country, I am posting the contents of a letter I wrote to someone I've never met. A writer friend asked a few fellow writers to pen a note to his father, a WWII vet, so here is what I came up with:
Though I don't know you personally, I'd like to thank you for your service in World War II.
My father, though American, served with the British Royal Engineers in North Africa and Italy, and I grew up hearing some of his stories. As I got older, I realized these stories--funny ones, scary ones, reminiscences of people and places he always hoped to see again--were only the vignettes he was willing to share. There were many more memories he kept to himself.
He instilled in me a fascination for that period in history, and I am currently working on a short story set in England in 1944. In the course of my research, I learned about Operation Tiger, a rehearsal for D-Day conducted on Slapton Sands on the south coast of England. The exercise went terribly wrong when a convoy of LSTs approaching the coast was discovered by German E-boats out of Cherbourg. 946 men were lost. Because of concerns that D-Day plans would be disrupted, this tragedy was kept secret for 40 years.
While this story may not be news now, I relate it here so that you will know such sacrifices will not be lost in the tides of time. Decades after the event, there are still those of us who are learning anew how indebted we are to the service men and women of WWII. The strength and courage of your generation will not be forgotten.