DEAR READERS: Today marks the 100th anniversary of America's entry into World War I. In commemoration, I'm mentioning a special initiative to save America's war letters. Almost 20 years ago I wrote about a historian, Andy Carroll, who had launched a project to seek out and preserve war-related letters as a way of honoring and remembering our veterans, troops and their loved ones.
After the column appeared, Andy was deluged with responses. Today that collection holds approximately 100,000 wartime correspondences -- from handwritten letters penned during the American Revolution and Civil War, to emails from Iraq and Afghanistan. Andy has donated the entire collection to Chapman University in Orange, California, and the project is now called the Center for American War Letters (CAWL).
This week, Andy and CAWL are kicking off an ambitious "Million Letters Campaign." Andy will travel nationwide speaking at public libraries, museums, VFW and American Legion posts, civic groups, places of worship, military academies and more to explain the importance of these correspondences and encourage people to share with him their own war-related letters and emails. If you know of someone who has war letters, please share this information so the stories and voices of the men and women who have sacrificed so much for our nation will be preserved.
Andy would love to meet in person anyone with letters to contribute to this "Million Letters Campaign" and is always seeking new venues. If you know of a place he should speak, email him about it. For families with letters who cannot attend, submissions can be sent to Andrew Carroll/CAWL Chapman University, One University Drive, Orange, CA 92866. (Originals are preferred, but scans are also appreciated.)
Ultimately, Andy and CAWL are seeking letters from ALL American wars, on ANY subject matter. For information on how to attend or invite Andy to your community, visit www.WarLetters.us.