For the new year, we look back to 1941 and a New Year’s letter written by Lucie Rosen‘s brother, Johnny Dodge, to their father, Charles Dodge.
Johnny writes, “My dear Father, The new year will, I hope, bring about a just & honorable peace in which nations will recognize the responsibilities towards one another & the community of nations, as individuals are supposed to recognize these towards their neighbors.”
There is little in the message to indicate that the writer was a prisoner of war held in the German Stalag Luft I camp at the time he composed the letter (Johnny appears in the center of the photo taken at the camp). The date of the missive, October 31, 1941, is one clue. Johnny knew his circumstances — and wartime conditions in general— would affect the timely delivery of a letter to the United States, so he wrote well in advance. The content of Johnny’s message echoes through the decades, however.
We still hope the new year brings “a just & honorable peace” more than 80 years later.
My dear Father, this takes you my love and best wishes for a Merry Christmas & Happy New Year. The new year will, I hope, bring about a just & honorable peace in which nations will recognize the responsibilities towards one another + the community of nations, as individuals are supposed to recognize these towards their neighbors. Have lately enjoyed reading Emerson’s Essays, Carlyle, Milton & Shakespeare, Sartor Resartus, Areopagitica & King John particularly. Here is a photograph of me taken with my two room-mates, Stark from New Zealand on my right & Vivian an English schoolmate who married since the outbreak of war, Miss Peggy Scriven the well known tennis player. My comrades come from all parts of the Empire & are a grand lot. Please thank Lucy for her 2 letters of Aug 8th + 21st. I was delighted to get the photo of Anne & Johnny. he looks like a future “white hope.” Young Walters’ photo too. Give them all my love + best wishes. My exercise I get by walking around the compound (¼ mile), an hour or so a day + digging in the garden occasionally. I miss having no newspapers or radio from home, but have plenty of time to read + think. The Red Cross parcels we receive are a great boon. It is sad the war was necessary, but I suppose good will come out of it, if we learn from suffering ourselves + the sacrifices of others. I should be grateful if you would tell me what relation the Dodge of Dodge city + the general in the Civil War, was to you + something about him. With winter here, I find a beard a great convenience. Every day, I appreciate Mineva more & more. Give her Mother my love. Mrs. Arrington, Addison Apts. Charlotte, N.C. 31st Oct. ’41
Your loving Son, John