If the best friend of a soldier is his or her rifle, as many military members have been told, then surely messages from home are the best medicine.
Early communication took the form of tribal, clan, or family messengers, usually a young male member. He would retell the verbal intercourse, often with hand signals. Later came pictographs on animal skins, epistles in the form of cuneiform or Linear B impressed into clay tablets, and hieroglyphics painted on papyrus. Eventually, letters were written using the inventions of paper, feather quills dipped into ink, lead pencils, and fountain or ballpoint pens — still in use today.
Various industrial revolutions produced Morse’s code and telegraph, Marconi’s wireless, Bell’s telephone, Edison’s phonograph, and a variety of mechanical typewriters, teletype machines, telegrams, tape recorders, and cassette tapes, as new means to communicate with those at great distances. These mediums have largely been replaced by cyberspace digital and visual messaging. One wonders if people today retain and preserve every e-mail, tweet, chat, or video on a memory stick, in a virtual hope chest, or “Cloud.”
Regardless the medium, it was the mere fact that someone cared enough to write that was important. Many appreciative recipients were able to visit classrooms and express their heartfelt thanks.
“Letters to a G.I.” contain actual letters sent from a young professional woman, Amy Palmer, to her G.I., Scott Morris, covering their three-year courtship by mail.