Cover image for I'll be home for Christmas : the Library of Congress revisits the spirit of Christmas during World War II.
Title:
I'll be home for Christmas : the Library of Congress revisits the spirit of Christmas during World War II.
Author:
Library of Congress.
Publication Information:
New York : Delacorte Press, 1999.
Physical Description:
xi, 210 pages : illustrations ; 24 cm
General Note:
"A Stonesong Press book."
Language:
English
Added Corporate Author:
ISBN:
9780385334631
Format :
Book

Available:*

Library
Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Status
Central Library D811.A2 I475 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks
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Summary

Summary

America is ready to remember and honor the men and women who courageously served the nation during World War II. To celebrate those brave souls and their families, and the spirit that carried them through our nation's darkest days, the Library of Congress has created a magnificent gift book. Themed around memories of Christmas during the war, I'll Be Home for Christmas is a unique and handsomely packaged collection of poignant stories, correspondence, more than 100 photographs and illustrations, and diary excerpts from those who went off to war and those who kept the home fires burning. One of the key events that shaped the twentieth century, World War II left an indelible mark on mankind. All too often overlooked in the shadow of official accounts and the sheer volume of documentation of the war are the millions of individual stories and experiences of those who served in the war and of the loved ones who waited for them to come home. Never were the personal sacrifices made both here and abroad more heartfelt than at that special time for family that is Christmas. Now the Library of Congress has opened its treasure trove of more than 110 million items (maps, photographs, drawings, recordings, rare books, published and unpublished writings, music, and motion pictures) to craft the perfect gift for anyone interested in World War II. With more than 100 beautiful photographs, cartoons, and illustrations, I'll Be Home for Christmas captures in brilliant relief how the worst of times can bring out the best in humankind.


Excerpts

Excerpts

War and Christmas--always they seem incongruous.  In celebrating "Peace on Earth and Good Will to Men" amid the horror and organized slaughter, symbols and images clash.  The carols and decorations, the gifts and religious ceremony, the trees and parties--all of it, at wartime, plays against a backdrop of ear, against the reality of battle plans and bodies.  and yet, it is in these times that Christmas takes on an urgent, immediate need.  In these times, the complex human issues of mortality, of family, and of brotherhood are stark and real. It was especially this way during World War II.  Across the United States, the people coped.  They shopped; they planned holiday gatherings; they sent cards.  They shared universal feelings of community and fellowship, of renewal and hope.  But the tension was palpable, the nation stunned by death and destruction, by immense uncertainty and stories of horrors in far-removed places.  Where, after all, were Corregidor and Bataan and Bastogne? And on the battlefields, thousands of young men and women who had, only a few years past, yelped on Christmas mornings at the sight of new bicycles or BB guns or other kid things under family trees now huddled in foxholes or worked at the front and faced unimaginable rigors and loneliness.  Christmas meant home, warmth, security, and a sense of roots; war was the antithesis of all of that.  The young people had traded their bicycles for tanks or fighters or armored vehicles; the BB guns for .30-caliber machine guns and M-1 carbines; and the comfort for great peril. No matter what the situation or the place, citizens and soldiers tried to re-create as best they could the feelings of Christmas.  Medics decorated surgical tents with makeshift Christmas trees hung with water bottles and rubber gloves.  Soldiers at the front lines gathered in bunkers for songs and prayers and joined in Communion in destroyed buildings.  Most of all, they scurried to mail call for any word from home.  Admiral William "Bull" Halsey once wrote to Admiral Chester Nimitz about cargo priority.  "Pleae stop the flow of Washington experts and sightseers," he requested.  "Each expert means two hundred less pounds of mail.  I'll trade an expert for two hundred pounds of mail anytime." During the war, each of the armed services sent photographers into the field.  They took pictures, sent them back to the States, and wrote captions, some of them quite perceptive and moving.  One of the hundreds of thousands of photographs sent back to Washington was of an Eighth Air Force airman kneeling in prayer in the sanctuary of an English church.  The caption read: "He forgets his world for the moment... it is Christmas.  It is Christmas, just like Christmas will always be ... in his heart!  Nothing can stop that.  He offers his thanks that he has lived.  He prays, as an airman prays, for courage and guidance - and for the safety and happiness of his loved ones at home.  He prays for those he is fighting to set free ... when Christmas morning comes again." On the one hand, the war brought enormous stress and fear from dislocation and loss; on the other, it brought many together under one sustaining purpose--national survival.  We see it in the letters, newspaper articles, sermons, journals, and music of the time and in the reminiscences of those looking back.  Many seemed stronger and more hopeful at Christmastime--the time of reunions, both real and imagined; of nostalgic and deeply personal stories and carols; of greater camaraderie and sense of belonging.  This book is about those times. Excerpted from I'll Be Home for Christmas: The Library of Congress Revisits the Spirit of Christmas During World War II by Library of Congress Staff All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.

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