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Home Front Friday: “Dear John, Happy Valentine’s Day…”

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Home Front Friday is a regular series that highlights the can do spirit on the Home Front during World War II and illustrates how that spirit is still alive today!

Tomorrow is February 14, and if you haven’t been living under a rock your entire life, you know that means Valentine’s Day. For some of us, this holiday is filled with chocolates, roses, and sweet romance. For others, it is a day to wallow in our loneliness, finding solace at the bottom of a wine glass or five. This year, the World War II Museum reminds you that it could always be worse…

During World War II, letters were an extremely valuable form of communication between soldiers and their loved ones back home. Nothing could boost the morale of servicemen quite like hearing from darling Judy or dearest Jane during the grueling months of combat overseas. And nothing could be as devastating as Judy or Jane deciding not to await your return, but rather to move on (often) with a different man. These letters became known as “Dear John letters” during World War II. When a letter began with an abrupt “Dear John” instead of the usual “My dearest Johnny,” the content to follow was never promising.

The Warren Dale Brown Collection, Gift of Jim Simpson from the collection of The National WWII Museum.

In spite of the devastating letters, soldiers were forced to push on and finish the war, battling both their enemies and a broken heart. So, this year – keep Valentine’s Day in perspective. Though you might be celebrating solo, remember all the Johns who had it a lot worse and drink to them.

Posted by Laurel Taylor, Education Intern and Lauren Handley, Assistant Director of Education for Public Programs at the World War II Museum

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