Gates, George Porterfield, 1835-1918; Young, Harrison, 1846-1916
Letter from Harry S. Truman to Bess Wallace, July 31, 1918. Family, Business, and Personal Affairs Papers - Family Correspondence File.
Somewhere in France (Still far from the front) July 31, 1918
Your letter of July 5 came today and I, as usual, had a fit of gladness. I hope you had a good Fourth but I know it couldn't have been a glorious one with the death of your grandfather so close to it. I do wish I could be there to help you decide whether you'd stay in a huge house or a small one. It wouldn't take me two minutes to decide.
I am going to buy you an iron cross or German helmet or something like that and send it to you as soon as I can get where they are for sale. You can tell 'em I captured it or anything you like. Most war trophies are bought afterwards or picked up on the field after the battle. Nowadays battles are just sort of a "you shoot up my town and I'll shoot up yours." They say that Americans don't play fair. They shoot 'em up all the time. I hope so because I want to finish this job as soon as possible and begin making an honest living again.
My Irish Battery went out on the range the other day and outfired the others in the battalion, on account of which I am rather swelled up. The major remarked that "D Battery is all right" and then he proceeded to tell the others why they weren't. I was awfully lucky and they say that a smiling face goes a long way toward getting things looked on in the right way. Anyway, I feel right encouraged. As I told you before, if I am a success as the commanding officer of a Battery of field artillery I shall have accomplished the best thing I could do in this war. I have my doubts about my bravery when heavy-explosive shells and gas attacks begin. I am like a fellow Uncle Harry used to tell about. I have the bravest kind of head and body but my legs won't stand.
I hadn't the slightest notion that I was causing you a heartache when I wore my uniform to the party last Fourth. I was so proud of myself for having it that nothing would do but I must wear it. I wouldn't make you an instant's unhappiness for all the glory in the world. But I've got to put my ability (if I have any) to its very best use now so we can really enjoy our great country and real happiness when it's over. I am sure you wouldn't want me to be anywhere else than where I am now.
I certainly appreciate your putting a star on the church flag for me. I believe in all churches, even the Roman Catholic can do a man a lot of good. I had a Presbyterian bringing up, a Baptist education, and Episcopal leanings so I reckon I ought to get to heaven somehow, don't you think so?
I have had more letters the last few days from unexpected sources. An old oil stock salesman who used to borrow money from me to get whiskey on sent me a fine letter and one of my good neighbors who never seemed to appreciate me at home sent me another. I guess I must be doing something besides cheat that "E Pluribus Unum" "In God We Trust" government out of $200.00 a month to go to school on.
I am hoping most sincerely that they don't send me to the SOS or home before I get one chance at the front.
It is sure a great game if you don't weaken. Be sure and write to me as often as you can, because I think of you always and can never tell you how much I do think.
Yours always Harry
Harry S Truman Capt. 129 FA American E.F.
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