Awaiting word in wartime
Recently Juli (Pauszek)Root came to my office with a treasure: copies of two letters that her Uncle Don Pauszek wrote to her grandmother – one dated May 11, 1945 and one dated May 14, 1945. The letters, envelopes and a prayer card speak for themselves, but a little background is in order.
On May 8, 1914 Congress had by joint resolution set aside the second Sunday in May as Mother’s Day. At the time, the president of the United States was Woodrow Wilson.
On April 17, 1945 President Harry S. Truman issued a proclamation about Mother’s Day, referring back to that original resolution. At the time of Truman’s resolution, the United States was embroiled in World War II on two fronts, fighting in both Europe and the Pacific arena. In fact, Truman had just become president on April 12 after the death of President Franklin D. Roosevelt.
In his resolution, Truman wrote:
“Whereas it is fitting that we acknowledge anew our gratitude, love, and devotion to the mothers of America; and
Whereas in this year of the war’s greatest intensity we are ever mindful of their splendid courage and steadfast loyalty to the highest ideals of our democracy …”
In 1945, the second Sunday of May was May 13. Thus Don’s letters were written just before and just after Mother’s Day.
By the time of Don’s letters, the war in Europe was winding down. May 8, 1945 was VE (Victory in Europe) day, the day that Germany officially surrendered. (It was also Truman’s 61st birthday.)
Don, however, was in the Philippines. There the situation was more tense. The American forces were gearing up for the invasion of Japan. Although the tide of the war was turning, it was feared that many more American lives would be lost in battle.
The little Rita he referred in his letters was his baby sister. She had been born while he away at war. Joe E. Brown was a noted comedian and film star. WACS meant Women’s Army Corps members.
As a final note: Don Pauszek survived the war and married Genevieve Stupcy on Nov. 3, 1951. He passed away on May 8, 2005. It was Mother’s Day that year.
Don’s first letter
May 11, 1945:
‘Plenty has taken place’ since last Mother’s Day
Manila, Luzon Island
Having a little spare time this morning and also in a writing mood thought I’d drop you a few lines. Got a letter from Macky and Aunt Vi the other day. Also one from Dorothy C. So I’m trying to answer them all today. Well Mom I saw Joe E. Brown last night in person and he was pretty good. Had a pretty good seat too. Didn’t have any gals with him but there are plenty of WACS and Filipino gals around, but I’m still shy and want to be true to my honey ha! ha! How about it honey?? Well Mom that European war has finally come to an end and I’m really thankful for that. Now they can send more stuff down here and give the Japs a little taste of our planes and stuff. They must be sweating it out now I imagine. Wonder where Ray is at now days Mom? Do you know??
I don’t think he saw any action anyway I hope he didn’t. He’ll get along just as well if he didn’t.
There are a couple million more guys been in a lot longer than he and are still in the States so he shouldn’t be too excited. I’m willing to let them all have a chance at it. So you said you don’t care if I go out and get drunk as long as I don’t do anything worse. Well honey I promise you I won’t do anything bad so please don’t worry about me. I know what the score is.
Sunday is your day once again hey Mom? Boy it seems like that last “Mother’s Day” was only last week but plenty has taken place since then and all for our own good thanks to the Good Lord. Maybe before too long this whole war will end. I’m sure sweating that day out.
You asked me if I hear from Cooney very often, well I don’t Mom, he use to write regularly to me, but I haven’t heard from him for quite some time now. I also heard that Joe is missing in action since January. You never did tell me that Mom.
I’m used to that stuff Mom because I’ve lost some good buddies over here myself. We know that someone is going to have it tough. If you don’t write me those things somebody else does honey, so what’s the difference, I seem to find out sooner or later, right? Also about that boy being killed Easter Sunday, sure was surprised to hear that. I knew him pretty well.
Did Aunt Berria ever get that letter I wrote her in February. I never did hear about it. I’m doing o.k. Mom and hope you all are too. Say hello to Dad, Busia and everyone for me and hope to hear from you soon. I’m sending you this little news sheet about my Division the 6th. We broke the South Pacific record and you might like to read about it. Will try and write again soon. I’ll remember you at Mass this Sunday honey and “Happy Mother’s Day.” Love to all. God Bless you all.
Don’s second letter
Monday,May 14,1945 “Manila”, Luzon Island
United States Army
Received another letter from you yesterday and sure was glad to hear from you again. The one you wrote on my birthday. So little Rita is really keeping you busy now days huh?? She must be full of life alright. It must be nice and warm by this time, half of May is gone. I got another letter from Ralph and he’s left the States once again. Can’t tell me where he’s at but says it’s a better place than he was at, the last time he left. We had another dance last night and had a pretty good time. There were some WACS and Filipino girls there also.
Well Mom have you heard from Ray lately?? Maybe he’s on his way back to the States for a furlough, can’t never tell you know. We’re all wondering how long it will take to bring the boys over here. Not too long I hope.
What do you think about that point system Mom? I think it’s pretty poor, only gives a guy five points for each battle campaign, and 12 for each kid under 18. Some of the U.S.O. Commandos will get out without leaving the States. Of course the Infantry men will also be classed as essential so that’s one more mark against the “fighting man.”
But maybe Japan will wake up and surrender before too many guys get out. I hope so.
Boy we sure had a beautiful celebration yesterday in honor of our “Mothers”. Had Mass in the evening and there were about 25 priests present, had a beautiful altar, too. All nicely decorated, and really had a large crowd. There were plenty soldiers there and I’m sure that pleased our Lord. The Mass was offered for our most wonderful girl (our mother), you honey. I didn’t send you any “Greeting Card” but I’m sending you something else and I’m sure you’ll be able to see that I really think the world of you honey and always will. We should be able to celebrate next year’s at home for sure. Did you buy yourself anything Mom like I asked you to? I sure hope you did. I guess this is about all for now. I’m feeling o.k. and hope you all are too. Say hello to Pa, Busia and everyone for me. Hope to see you all soon, in the meantime I’m always thinking of you. The weather is pretty nice at times but rains quite a bit too. Hope to hear from you soon.
“Best of everything and God Bless You All.”
Love to all,