From the collection of the National Park Service, National Mall and Memorial Parks.
Framed, typewritten memorial letter dedicated to U.S. Army Captain (CPT) and nurse Eleanor Grace Alexander, U.S. Army First Lieutenant (1LT) and nurse Sharon Ann Lane, U.S. Army First Lieutenant (1LT) and nurse Hedwig Diane Orlowski, U.S. Air Force Captain (Capt) and nurse Mary Therese Klinker, U.S. Army Second Lieutenant (2LT) and nurse Carol Ann Elizabet Drazba, U.S. Army Second Lieutenant (2LT) and nurse Elizabeth Ann Jones, U.S. Army Lieutenant Colonel (LTC) and nurse Annie Ruth Graham, and U.S. Army Second Lieutenant (2LT) and nurse Pamela Dorothy Donovan. The letter is from Vietnam-era writer/researcher Doreen Spelts, is dated, "October 11, 1986", is entitled, "A LETTER TO ELEANOR", and is addressed to CPT Eleanor Grace Alexander (specifically) and to all eight (8) women listed on The Wall (more generally). In content, the letter discusses the author's purpose in researching and writing about the women listed upon the Vietnam Veterans Memorial (VVM), speculates about their individual motivations to serve their nation the choice each made to save lives during the Vietnam War, and briefly summarizes contemporary efforts on behalf of each nurse's home community to acknowledge their service and to honor their memories. The artifact was left at The Wall (presumably by Doreen Spelts [?]) between April - May 1990.
FRAMED, TYPEWRITTEN MEMORIAL LETTER DEDICATED TO U.S. ARMY CAPTAIN (CPT) AND NURSE ELEANOR GRACE ALEXANDER, U.S. ARMY FIRST LIEUTENANT (1LT) AND NURSE SHARON ANN LANE, U.S. ARMY FIRST LIEUTENANT (1LT) AND NURSE HEDWIG DIANE ORLOWSKI, U.S. AIR FORCE CAPTAIN (CAPT) AND NURSE MARY THERESE KLINKER, U.S. ARMY SECOND LIEUTENANT (2LT) AND NURSE CAROL ANN ELIZABET DRAZBA, U.S. ARMY SECOND LIEUTENANT (2LT) AND NURSE ELIZABETH ANN JONES, U.S. ARMY LIEUTENANT COLONEL (LTC) AND NURSE ANNIE RUTH GRAHAM, AND U.S. ARMY SECOND LIEUTENANT (2LT) AND NURSE PAMELA DOROTHY DONOVAN. THE LETTER IS TYPEWRITTEN IN BLACK INK AND BLOCK SCRIPT/ARABIC NUMERALS UPON A RECTANGULARLY SHAPED SHEET OF WHITE, UNLINED PAPER, IS ENTITLED, "A LETTER TO ELEANOR" [A REFERENCE TO CPT ALEXANDER], IS FROM WRITER/RESEARCHER, "DOREEN SPELTS", IS DATED, "OCTOBER 11, 1986", AND IS HAND-SIGNED IN BLACK INK AND CURSIVE SCRIPT, "LOVE AND PEACE DOREEN". AFFIXED TO THE CENTER, PROPER LEFT-HAND EDGE OF THE LETTER IS A MILITARY ISSUE, CLOTH PATCH U.S. ARMY NURSES CORPS BRANCH INSIGNIA (SUBDUED). THE LETTER AND INSIGNIA ARE FRAMED OVER A LIGHT BLUE/GREEN FABRIC BACKING INSIDE A BLACK WOODEN AND GLASS PICTURE/DOCUMENT FRAME. THE REVERSE OBJECT SURFACE OF THE FRAME IS COVERED WITH BROWN BACKING PAPER AND FEATURES THE VIETNAM VETERANS MEMORIAL (VVM) WALL LOCATION INFORMATION AND FIRST NAMES OF ALL EIGHT (8) WOMEN LISTED ON THE WALL HANDWRITTEN IN PENCIL AND CURSIVE SCRIPT/ARABIC NUMERALS AT THE UPPER, PROPER LEFT-HAND CORNER. THE BUSINESS CARD FOR WRITER/RESEARCHER (AND AUTHOR OF THE LETTER) DOREEN SPELTS IS AFFIXED TO THE UPPER, PROPER RIGHT-HAND CORNER OF THE REVERSE OBJECT SURFACE VIA SEVERAL STRIPS OF CLEAR, ADHESIVE SCOTCH TAPE. THE LETTER IS ADDRESSED FROM A VIETNAM-ERA WRITER AND RESEARCHER SPECIFICALLY TO U.S. ARMY CAPTAIN AND NURSE ELEANOR GRACE ALEXANDER, AND MORE GENERALLY TO ALL EIGHT (8) WOMEN LISTED ON THE VIETNAM VETERANS MEMORIAL (VVM). IN CONTENT, THE LETTER DISCUSSES THE AUTHOR'S [DOREEN SPELTS'] PURPOSE IN RESEARCHING AND WRITING ABOUT THE WOMEN LISTED UPON THE WALL, SPECULATES ABOUT THEIR MOTIVATIONS IN SERVING THEIR NATION AND CHOOSING TO SAVE LIVES DURING THE VIETNAM WAR, AND BRIEFLY SUMMARIZES CONTEMPORARY EFFORTS ON BEHALF OF EACH NURSE'S HOME COMMUNITY TO ACKNOWLEDGE THEIR SERVICE AND HONOR THEIR MEMORIES.
Text of the typewritten letter, as well as of the handwritten inscription and business card at the reverse object surface, is transcribed in full, as follows: [Obverse object surface, typewritten letter] "A LETTER TO ELEANOR / (Buffalo Vietnam Memorial Wreath Laying Ceremony, October 11, 1986) / Dear Eleanor, / For many hours I have absorbed the memories of your family and read line after line of words written by your friends. / I've heard the stories from the veterans who knew you in Vietnam. / And I have read your letters. / So I felt it was time to write to you. / I'm not sure if any of the names etched on these wings of stone may have been men whom you or the other seven women may have talked to or touched. / But one thing is certain. / Somewhere there are nurses who tried his and her best to save these lives. / Eleanor, since I've begun to get acquainted with you and the other seven women, I've learned to keep you close to my breast. / Then when I feel I know you well enough to share a little bit of you with the world, I write about you. / Over a year ago when I wrote your families I said, "I want to write about your daughter or your sister." / Shortly after that I received a letter from one of your mothers. / In her grief, still fresh after nearly 20 years, she asked me why I did not go to Vietnam. / She asked me what was I doing with my life at the time of her daughter's death? / I answered that I had chose to marry and raise a child. / Then I explained to her that now I was also doing what I chose to do: Write these stories. / I'm writing about all of you because I was curious to know that there were eight of your scattered across the Wall in Washington, DC. / I wanted to know who you were, where you came from and why all of you were so dramatically snatched from this earth. / In the spirit of John F. Kennedy, each of you women chose to serve your country. / Each of you women were living out your choices. / Each of you were becoming a part of history. / You carry temperments [sic] that probably match other women who served in Vietnam: Heddy, it is your steadfastness. / Sharon, it is your capacity to heal. / Mary, it is your love of children. / Carol, it is your honest humor. / Elizabeth, it is your zest for love. / Annie Ruth, it is your endurance to serve your country. / Pamela, it is your compassion. / Eleanor, it is your empowerment. / Your characters will stay with me for the rest of my life. / When I leave here Sunday I will visit your mother in River Vale, New Jersey and with her I will at last see the place where you are buried. / I will walk inside the small church you loved so much and from where your family and friends said goodbye. / I will see the park that carries your name and rub my hands across the large boulder that is your strength. / And here in Buffalo, I've been able to see where you learned how to become a nurse. / This week-end [sic] your peers at D'Youville College are honoring you with a fitting memorial. / The Eleanor G. Alexander Nursing Proficiency Medal is a tribute that joins your park in River Vale, New Jersey. / And Pamela's road leading to St. Gabriel's Monastery. / And Sharon's monument to Stark County's men who died in Vietnam. / And Mary's outstanding award to an Air Force nurse. / And Carol's scholarship to a Dunmore High School Student. / And Elizabeth's portrait at Ft. Jackson, South Carolina. / And Annie Ruth's memorial garden at Durham County Hospital. / Congratulations Eleanor. / Congratulations all of you. / [signature] Love and Peace Doreen" / [Reverse object surface, handwritten pencil inscriptions] "53 West - Pamela - 43 / 48 West Annie Ruth - 12 / 23 West Sharon 112 / 1 West - Mary 122 / 5 East Carol & Betty Ann 43/47 / 31 East Eleanor & Heddy 8/15" / [Reverse object surface, business card] " "...there are eight of them." / DOREEN SPELTS / Writer/Researcher / 239 Decatur St. / Doylestown, PA 18901 / 215-348-3762"
Item Weight: 500.0g
Item Length: 32.0cm
Item Width: 24.5cm
Item Depth: 1.25cm (Frame depth)