WAR LETTERS: Sacrifice - 1940s WWII


1940s WWII

In 1999, William D. Stevens of Lincoln, Nebraska, published Justifiable Pride, a book about his service in World War II. The book included his experiences as a "kriegie" or prisoner of war. This is the last paragraph from Lt. Stevens' book.

Recollections of WWII
William D. Stevens

Once in a while, lying in a comfortable bed, clean, warm and well-fed, I recall the countless nights I slept on muddy ground or didn't sleep at all, how cold I was at times, and my unending hunger as a kriegie. But those days are long gone and don't come readily to mind — except when the band plays our national anthem before a football game. Then, standing bare-headed with my hand over my heart, watching the Stars and Stripes wave in the breeze, I think about World War II and those who participated in it. Each of us, while performing the role assigned to him, gave up the right to pursue other goals, to go where he wanted to go, to seek fulfillment in his own way.

That's why our wartime service was so meaningful: we were doing something for others, something above and beyond ourselves, something from which we had nothing to gain and much to lose. That's why taking pride in it is justifiable. This is our recompense for the sacrifices we made, for the hardships we endured. Those were not our happiest years, nor our most rewarding, but they are years none of us will ever forget. And as we alone know, in some ways they were our greatest years.

Also, please visit a Producer's Postscript from Steve Robinson, who produced and directed the Nebraska War Letters project.



1940s WWII