Happy Veterans Day 2013

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Three generations of Colvins in about 1973. From left, Paul, Edsel, and Frank. At the time this was taken, I was a college student home for the summer, my dad was principal of the high school in Gold Beach, and my grandfather was a retired sporting goods store owner. Years later I would find the letters they had written in the 1940s and help turn them into a book for family and friends.

This is more of a personal post than usual, but there is a connection to Room 24 in it. It is an adaptation of a post I did last year about this time of year.

There are many ways to introduce the topic of Veterans Day to elementary age children, but I choose to make it personal by talking about my dad and mentioning some of the sacrifices he made during WWII in the 1940s.

Last week I brought in a shoe box full of letters that my dad, Edsel Colvin, wrote from the time he started college in 1941 until he got out of the Army in 1945. I shared with the class that my dad and his dad had a very close relationship and they both wrote weekly and sometimes daily letters to each other.  I told the class a little about my father’s experiences as a foot soldier in France, Germany, and Austria near the end of World War II.

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Edsel V. Colvin in 1943

The underlying message in all the letters was love for his father and telling him not to worry, even though my dad was on the front lines during the stage of the war that led up to the Battle of the Bulge in November and December of 1944.

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Dad’s first letter home after seeing combat in the Vosges Mountains of France. Most of his other letters are several pages long. This one was short and to the point for a reason.– Nov. 14, 1944

The letters came to my attention about ten years ago. They were in a large shoebox at my parents’ home in Gold Beach, Oregon and hadn’t seen the light of day for years. I thought that was wrong and proceeded to start typing them into my computer and sending them back to Dad via email for comments. Because his original letters were censored by the Army (“Loose lips sink ships” was the motto of that time period), Dad clarified confusing or missing bits and pieces of information for me in his emails back to me. I learned more about my father’s wartime experiences in that one year of correspondence than all of the previous 50 years combined.

Box of Letters

The Box of Letters that became the raw material for a book

Three hundred letters later, with carpal tunnel syndrome creeping up on me, we had the seeds of a book, so we decided to self publish it under the title Got to Go Now (look closely at the letter above for a clue on where we got the title).

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Cover of Got to Go Now

Thank you to all veterans who have served and sacrificed to protect our country.

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Lea and Edsel Colvin, Nov. 9, 2013

P.S. After living most of their lives in Gold Beach (except for the war and college), Mom and Dad moved to Madras, Oregon last summer to be closer to family.

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About Mr. Colvin

I'm a retired elementary teacher (classroom and music) who taught at Lewis and Woodmere elementary schools in SE Portland. I like to teach, play guitar, take photos, and ride my bike.
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