From the collection of the National Park Service, National Mall and Memorial Parks.
Handwritten letter. The letter is addressed, "Hi Jim", is signed, "Love / Paul", is undated, and opens with the line, "I am sorry I haven't written sooner but its [sic] been tough." In content, the letter is a message from a younger brother to an older brother killed in Vietnam just prior to completion of his tour of duty. The author writes about learning of his brother's death that, "I'll never forget coming home from school and finding a priest and service man there to break the news to me", and notes that, "A couple days later I got your letter telling me you were finishing up your tour in Nam and going to Germany, but I guess Nam wouldn't let you go. / You were so close." Paul assures his brother that his homecoming wishes were honored, stating that, "[...] I put the case of beer in the fridge like you wanted and kept your promotion a secret", and closes his letter with the promise and postscript, "Well I have to go know [sic] but I will always come back and visit [...] (P.S. I drank the case of beer)". The artifact was left at The Wall by a donor identified only as, "Paul" on June 1, 1988.
HANDWRITTEN LETTER. THE OBJECT CONSISTS OF A LETTER HANDWRITTEN IN BLUE INK AND CURSIVE SCRIPT/ARABIC NUMERALS UPON A RECTANGULARLY SHAPED SHEET OF WHITE, UNLINED PAPER. THE LETTER IS ADDRESSED, "HI JIM", IS SIGNED, "LOVE / PAUL", IS UNDATED, AND OPENS WITH THE LINE, "I'M SORRY I HAVEN'T WRITTEN SOONER BUT ITS [sic] BEEN TOUGH." IN CONTENT, THE LETTER IS A MESSAGE FROM A YOUNGER BROTHER TO AN OLDER BROTHER KILLED IN VIETNAM JUST PRIOR TO COMPLETION OF HIS TOUR OF DUTY. THE AUTHOR WRITES ABOUT LEARNING OF HIS BROTHER'S DEATH THAT, "I'LL NEVER FORGET COMING HOME FROM SCHOOL AND FINDING A PRIEST AND SERVICE MAN THERE TO BREAK THE NEWS TO ME" AND RECALLS AN EMOTIONAL STATE OF STUNNED DISBELIEF. HE NOTES THAT, "A COUPLE DAYS LATER I GOT YOUR LETTER TELLING ME YOU WERE FINISHING UP YOUR TOUR IN NAM AND GOING TO GERMANY, BUT I GUESS NAM WOULDN'T LET YOU GO." PAUL THEN ASSURES JIM THAT HE HONORED HIS BROTHER'S HOMECOMING WISHES, STATING THAT, "[...] I PUT THE CASE OF BEER IN THE FRIDGE LIKE YOU WANTED AND KEPT YOUR PROMOTION A SECRET". THE AUTHOR THEN PROCEEDS TO REMIND HIS BROTHER THAT HE IS MISSED, TO REASSURE HIM THAT HE KNEW HIS BROTHER WAS ONLY GIVING HIM ADVICE IN HIS LETTERS HOME, AND INFORMS HIM THAT HE HAS BEEN GETTING HIS LIFE TOGETHER AND HAS PLANS TO MARRY A "NICE GIRL" AND, "[...] NAME MY FIRST BOY AFTER YOU". THE AUTHOR CONCLUDES HIS LETTER TO HIS BROTHER WITH THE POSTSCRIPT, "(P.S. I DRANK THE CASE OF BEER)". AT THE LOWER, PROPER RIGHT-HAND CORNER OF THE REVERSE OBJECT SURFACE IS AN NPS RANGER'S NOTE [?] HANDWRITTEN IN BLACK INK AND BLOCK SCRIPT/ARABIC NUMERALS SPECIFYING THE DATE OF DONATION AT THE VIETNAM VETERANS MEMORIAL (VVM), "6/1/88" AS WELL AS THE ALPHANUMERIC DESIGNATION, "6/71".
Text of the handwritten inscription upon the obverse object surface is transcribed in full, as follows: "Hi Jim / I am sorry I haven't written sooner but its [sic] been tough. / I'll never forget coming home from school and finding a priest and service man there to break the news to me. / I was totally stunned. / A couple days later I got your letter telling me you were finishing up your tour in Nam and going to Germany, but I guess Nam wouldn't let you go. / You were so close. / I didn't believe it at first so I put the case of beer in the fridge like you wanted and kept your promotion a secret. / I am real proud of you man and I wasn't telling anyone like you said, but I had to face reality so I told everybody my brother was a spec 4. / Jim I miss you, and I know you weren't giving me lectures in your letters. / Big brothers always give advice. / But little brothers don't always take it just sometimes. / I am finally getting myself together and hope you would be proud. / I met a nice girl and plan to marry her and name my first boy after you. / Well I have to go know [sic] but I will always come back and visit. / Love / Paul / (P.S. I drank the case of beer)"
Item Weight: 3.7g
Item Length: 21.5cm
Item Width: 18.4cm