WAR LETTERS: PRODUCER'S POSTSCRIPT

LETTERS HOME FROM SOLDIERS AT WAR

Producer's Postscript

Like most people I have always admired and respected the men and women who, throughout our history, have been willing to leave home and fight for our freedoms. And like most people, I have seen war movies and television programs and read my share of books about combat. None of that prepared me for the profoundly moving experience of reading letters written home from America's wars by the men and women who fought them.

It started in December when I read 14 letters published in the New Yorker magazine that had been selected from tens of thousands of letters owned by the Legacy Project, a Washington, DC-based non-profit organization dedicated to collecting war letters. The power, drama, and poignancy of the writing captivated me instantly, and I knew immediately I had found the Memorial Day radio program I'd always wanted to broadcast.

I knew the few letters published in the New Yorker had been selected from many thousands sent in from all over the country, so I didn't give much thought to collecting letters from Nebraskans. How could a state with such a small population possibly compete? But we decided to give it a try anyway; and, in February, Governor Mike Johanns was kind enough to begin one of his weekly news conferences by publicizing Nebraska Public Radio's request for letters. Over the next few days, virtually every newspaper, radio and TV station in the state mentioned the request, and over the next weeks and months we received nearly 150 letters from every part of the state. I'll never forget those letters.

I've been broadcasting and producing public radio programs for 33 years, but nothing prepared me for the outpouring of interest Nebraskans have show in this project. I've never experienced anything like it.

And nothing prepared me for these Nebraska letters. Some are chilling, some are dramatic, some are sad, a few are funny, some are poignant. Some of the most heart rending letters we received were written by soldiers who had witnessed the death of a comrade and were writing to the family to explain what had happened. Taken together they teach two profound lessons. They brought home to me in a way I had never experienced that, yes, war is hellish and brutal. They also taught me that "admiration and respect" for our war veterans are not enough-each man and woman who fought to preserve our freedom is a hero, and should be treated as a hero.

- Steve Robinson, Network Manager, Nebraska Public Radio
who also produced and directed "War Letters"

 

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