This is the seventeenth of 87 letters exchanged during World War II between Nicholas Salvatore and Elizabeth Galloway.
For more see Nicholas and Elizabeth.

Soldier with Bazooka

January 13, 1944

Over the mountain to see what he could see

Dear Elizabeth,

It seems to me that we use the word “luck” strangely in our language. Aristotle said it was when an arrow hits the guy standing next to you. I’m sorry to hear about your brother. It’s clear he meant a great deal to you. If you want, I’d love to hear all about him. But if you can’t talk about it yet, I understand. I’ve already seen things here that I think I’ll never be able to talk about. I wish I could forget them.

I desire death to be a terrible thing. I want men to fear it, for if they did, would they keep trying to kill one another? I suppose taking another life makes some men feel powerful, as if they have conquered death by becoming part of it – it seems to me that part of these men is already dead. Instead we avoid talk of death at all cost, as if somehow that’ll keep it at bay. I don’t know about other countries, but most people back home pretend it away, only making the devastation worse when it comes. If everyone felt the enormity of it every day, I can’t imagine things like this war could ever come to be. But what do I know.

I’m alright. As much as I feel overcome by panic and fear from time to time, being here with the others and knowing you’re there and my family is there one comes to feel part of something much bigger than himself. I think that may have been my problem for years. I felt so isolated that often no one else felt real and I simply floated along, reading these books and making up these stories. I think I’ve always known that but can now feel it. And I’m dreadfully happy to have heard from you. I don’t mean to shy away from the reality, though, and I truly am very sorry for your loss.

It’s good that you are able to be there with your mom. Take good care of her, and of yourself.


PS – The best thing you could do for me is send me your picture. I’d love to see your face again.

Next letter – January 25, 1944