Col­lec­tion of war let­ters pre­serves our mil­i­tary past


DEAR READ­ERS: To­day marks the 100th an­niver­sary of Amer­ica’s en­try into World War I. In com­mem­o­ra­tion, I’m men­tion­ing a spe­cial ini­tia­tive to save Amer­ica’s war let­ters. Al­most 20 years ago I wrote about a his­to­rian, Andy Car­roll, who had launched a pro­ject to seek out and pre­serve war-re­lated let­ters as a way of hon­or­ing and re­mem­ber­ing our veter­ans, troops and their loved ones.

Af­ter the col­umn ap­peared, Andy was del­uged with re­sponses. To­day that col­lec­tion holds ap­prox­i­mately 100,000 wartime cor­re­spon­dences — from hand­writ­ten let­ters penned dur­ing the Amer­i­can Rev­o­lu­tion and Civil War, to emails from Iraq and Afghanistan. Andy has do­nated the en­tire col­lec­tion to Chap­man Univer­sity in Or­ange, Cal­i­for­nia, and the pro­ject is now called the Cen­ter for Amer­i­can War Let­ters (CAWL).

This week, Andy and CAWL are kick­ing off an am­bi­tious “Mil­lion Let­ters Cam­paign.” Andy will travel na­tion­wide speak­ing at pub­lic li­braries, mu­se­ums, VFW and Amer­i­can Le­gion posts, civic groups, places of wor­ship, mil­i­tary acad­e­mies and more to ex­plain the im­por­tance of th­ese cor­re­spon­dences and en­cour­age peo­ple to share with him their own war-re­lated let­ters and emails. If you know of some­one who has war let­ters, please share this in­for­ma­tion so the sto­ries and voices of the men and women who have sac­ri­ficed so much for our na­tion will be pre­served.

Andy would love to meet in per­son any­one with let­ters to con­trib­ute to this “Mil­lion Let­ters Cam­paign” and is al­ways seek­ing new venues. If you know of a place he should speak, email him about it. For fam­i­lies with let­ters who can­not at­tend, sub­mis­sions can be sent to Andrew Car­roll/CAWL Chap­man Univer­sity, One Univer­sity Drive, Or­ange, CA 92866. (Orig­i­nals are pre­ferred, but scans are also ap­pre­ci­ated.)

Ul­ti­mately, Andy and CAWL are seek­ing let­ters from ALL Amer­i­can wars, on ANY sub­ject mat­ter. For in­for­ma­tion on how to at­tend or in­vite Andy to your com­mu­nity, visit www.WarLet­

DEAR ABBY: My son, “Tom,” is a se­nior in high school. About a month ago, he asked a girl named “Al­lie” to the prom. She said yes. Al­lie’s mom is a hair­dresser. My hus­band and I don’t know her or her hus­band.

Al­lie’s mother has asked two dif­fer­ent peo­ple about us. One of them told us about it; the other I heard about sec­ond­hand. So last week I in­tro­duced my­self to her at a lo­cal func­tion. We spoke briefly, and I told her I would be in touch. A few days ago I called to in­vite her out for cof­fee and left a mes­sage with my phone num­ber. She hasn’t called me back. What can I do to get to know Al­lie’s mother bet­ter? — PROM MOM

DEAR PROM MOM: Make an ap­point­ment to have your hair done, and you’ll have at least an hour with her.

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