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Monday, May 30, 2011

Memorial Day

A day to remember. As children we didn't understand -- it was about meeting down at the church at noon, standing around outside waiting for the soldiers to show up. They got out of their cars when they came, grim men in various uniforms, carrying flags and rifles. We all stood on the northwest corner of the church, looking out over the headstones, and the soldiers lined up with their rifles. One man spoke orders in a voice just under a shout, a voice you knew could be heard through chaos and fear. Three times the rifles fired; three times we covered our ears at the report. A bugler played taps while the soldiers stood at attention, and when the final order was given and the men went back to their cars, we kids scrambled in the grass for the shell casings. Then everyone turned back to the church doors, and we went downstairs for the potluck. The soldiers came down, too, but now they were smiling and talking as though they were real people, as though they were neighbors and friends and farmers and fathers. Outside in the late May wind the headstones remained impassive.

One of them, my uncle's, was inscribed,

Earl Richard Krogstad
Cpl, 743rd Tank Battalion
May 26, 1919-June 6, 1944

Here is the last letter he wrote home from England.

[The following was included in Earl’s scrapbook with the caption “Last letter”. It was in a blue envelope labeled “Soldier’s Letter” and the envelope was preprinted with the following statement: “United States Army. This letter must not be used for money or valuables, cannot be registered, and will not be censored by company or regimental censors, but by the Base Censor. I certify that the inclosed letter or letters were written by me, refer only to personal or family matters, and do not refer to military or other matters forbidden by censorship regulations.”]


May 30, 1944

My dear Mother,

I was so glad to get your letter last night. I’ve been trying to write home quite often. I hope you get them. I don’t know when I will get a chance to write again. Don’t worry about me if it is awhile before you hear from me. The years I’ve been in the Army have been pretty rough but I’ve managed. All along I’ve felt the power of the prayers of my dear mother. And I feel that God will be with me in the battles to come. I’ve been training to fight and fight I will. It is my business. I am unafraid to go into combat. Two years ago the thought would have scared me. In fact I’m quite anxious to meet the enemy, but I will want to come home some day, get married and enjoy a quiet peaceful life. The thoughts of home are indeed pleasant. They are fond memories. One of the biggest things the Army has done for me is to appreciate my home, my parents and brothers and sister. Everybody made it pleasant for the other person and that’s what a home should be. I’ll write next chance I get and if I can, I will send a cable gram. Tell Alberts hello, also Louise and the other folks down there. It would sure be fun to see them all again.

I’m going to write a letter to Elsie too tonight. I’ll have to forget about writing to the other people that I owe letters to.

Keep writing.

All my love,


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