There was a program this week about WWII Europe. It shared letters that soldiers wrote to their wives back home. The program touched me deeply. I remember my father’s letters to my mother which was the impetus for my new play The Soldier and the Time Traveler. One day, about 10 years ago, my father was telling the story of his WWII army experience with his great-granddaughters. He kept forgetting some of the details, so my mother repeatedly said, “Sandy, that’s not what happened. It was…”
After about the fifth time, I asked, “Mom, how do you know all those things?”
She responded, “It’s in the letters.”
Letters? What letters. I asked, “Mom, do you still have those letters?”
“Sure,” she jauntily replied. “I have about, hmmm, maybe 500 letters from your dad when he was in Europe as a soldier.”
Several weeks later, my sisters and I hand the letters in our hands, reading them, collating them, laughing and crying over them. They were sweet, tender love letters from a lonely soldier to his new young wife. It struck me that my father’s story needed to be told. His story was that of every young soldier back then, back there. I wanted to share the stories, especially since my own great-grandparents and many of their children and relatives had been killed by the Nazis, and because there is far too much talk these days from deniers. I wanted to write something that would resonate with young people and allow them to understand that the Holocaust indeed happened.
Two years ago my mother donated all of the letters to the Holocaust Center of Seattle. They received a grant to digitize such letters, which makes the letters available to all to see,
The Soldier and the Time Traveler brings together the holocaust with today’s political climate, and it empowers our youth (and their parents) to stand up and say “Never again!” I look forward to bringing it to a theater near you soon.
This week was my father’s yahrzeit. May he forever rest in peace knowing that his letters are a gift to young people everywhere.
Meditation this week: I choose happiness.
Stand up, speak out! Thanks for taking this journey with me. Now go write your story!