To Don..from Bill….
Note: To be opened the last morning you are at sea on going home to the USA.
16 February 1953
When I came overseas many moons ago, I was sent with a letter from my Mother. In it she stated how on long voyages years ago, people were sent with ship messages. There was then an age of letter writing which seems to have passed, except for the ghosts that may rove the skeleton of some long lost ship. There was then wind in the sails and the creak of the boards of the ship at night. There could be heard the rustle of silk in women’s dresses.
Men and women were probably doing just as we do today if given the opportunity. That is, jumping from bunk to bunk.
Right now, right at this living moment, I am writing this on the usual, sunless, dull, German day in the office of the captain.
In time, all our importance melts away, and yet as a part of history we remain an important factor in time. The way you live, the love you have for life, the love you have for others and the understanding of them, the love you have for a woman and your unborn children are of great importance.
Whether you are ever known as an individual, it is the way you are which makes the “To Be” of a better world. Now you are nearing home to the land that I love so deeply. I would want to claim that land in a deeper way than you can in your youth.
Someday you will know what I mean. Someday you will know that the earth in a bog swamp when you are out duck hunting is the cleanest mud in the world.
Don’t ever forget that part of your life which you spent in a foreign land. There were circumstances you did not like. They have helped to keep that mud as clean as it is. Sometimes Don, I hope you are looking at that lost land where you like to lose yourself.
You’ll find the air just a bit sharp. You will like the smell that time of year.