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Tag Archive | "A Thousand Letters Home"

A Thousand Letters home


Author Teresa Irish with Cedar Springs resident Claudia Mabie.

Author Teresa Irish with Cedar Springs resident Claudia Mabie.

By Tom Noreen

Over 130 people enjoyed the presentation last Thursday evening, October 22, at Cedar Springs Middle School, of A Thousand Letters Home: Journey of the Letters, by author Teresa Irish.

Irish is a gifted storyteller with a mission to remind us of the war that changed the world and the over 16 million men and women who served in uniform during that time. Her father, Bud Irish, wrote 1,000 letters home to his fiancé and parents during World War II and sent 250 photographs. These letters were stored in a trunk until after his death in 2006. Reading these letters changed her life, her outlook and ultimately her calling. She gained a complete new understanding of her dad and how it transformed him and of the war itself, both on the battlefield and at home.

While reading a letter on an airplane, she saw the many soldiers in uniform that were on their way to or returning from Iraq and Afghanistan. She wondered how many times she had seen these uniforms in the 45 weeks she traveled each year and not seen the people in them or realized what they were doing. She made a vow never to pass up someone in uniform or a vet and not thank them for their service. She struck up a conversation with the soldier across the aisle who was on his way to Afghanistan, and a few years later ended up marrying now Colonel Brad Foster (who is on another deployment). She spoke of the many vets she has talked with that no one has ever thanked for their service, especially those from Vietnam.

It is not just Vietnam. My dad, Roger, served in the Navy in WWII, landing soldiers in North Africa, Sicily, Italy and finally Normandy. While we were stationed in Belgium, we traveled to Normandy on 1999 with him to show him the beaches from the grassy side. As we walked the large cemetery overlooking Omaha Beach, he and Virginia rested at the memorial. During that time, a group of Italian college students came up and asked if he had served in WWII. He said he did and they thanked him for his service. He later said that was the first time anyone ever thanked him.

Just as important as recognizing vets, is recognizing the needs of those around us. Seeing people as we would like to be seen and giving them a warm greeting may make the difference between life and death.

Teresa said of the pictures that were in the collection that she couldn’t understand why her dad had taken and saved some of the more graphic ones. In particular, ones of a group of concentration camp prisoners that had been burned alive in a barn until she looked at the back and saw where he had written, “Pictures don’t lie.”

It might not have been a bucket list item but getting author Teresa Irish as a speaker to present was high on librarian Donna Clark’s wish list. After learning about Irish’s program, Donna contacted her and found out that it would cost more than the library could afford at the time. In the summer, Teresa contacted Donna and said she was going to be in the area for another program and could do one in Cedar Springs for about half of the original quote. Donna said yes. She then asked the American Legion Auxiliary to sponsor part of the program and they agreed to do half. Later, she brought the lecture up at a City Council meeting and Dave Ringler of the Cedar Springs Brewing Company said he would do the other half.

The Brewing Company also hosted a private party for the Women’s Club before the presentation. A buffet of chicken, roasted potatoes and other root vegetables provided an opportunity for the kitchen and wait staff to practice before they open. They were treated to the brewery’s “Cedar Creek” soft drinks.

People stood in line for an hour to buy Irish’s book and have her autograph it. If you would like to read the book, A Thousand Letters Home, the Cedar Springs Public Library has them to sign out.

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A Thousand Letters Home, the journey of the letters


N-A-thousand-letters-home-BookCover

Tonight (Thursday) at Cedar Springs Middle School

Following the 2006 death of her father, Aarol W. “Bud” Irish, of Saginaw, MI, Teresa Irish opened the Army trunk that had resided in the family home her entire life. There, nestled in row after row, were her dad’s nearly 1,000 letters from WWII. Visited only by him over the course of six decades, the letters were postmarked from Nov. 1942 to Dec. 1945.

The Cedar Springs Public Library, in partnership with the American Legion Auxiliary Glen Hill Post 287, invites residents to a special prograrm tonight, Thursday, October 22, at 7 p.m. at Cedar Springs Middle School, 4873 16 Mile Road. A Thousand Letters Home author, Teresa Irish, will take you on an engaging and inspirational journey based on her father’s 1,000 letters from WWII.

The fragile and yellowed pages were written to Bud’s parents back in Hemlock, MI, and to the sweetheart who would later become his wife. From lonesome, moonlit nights listening to the Hit Parade, to the foxholes and front lines in Germany where Bud would receive the Silver Star, the Bronze Star, and the Purple Heart, to correspondence with the heartbroken mothers whose sons died by his side, this is a moving and historic story of life and loss, hope and perseverance, unwavering faith, and true love. A Thousand Letters Home is comprised of 320 of these poignant letters and 104 corresponding photographs.

A Thousand Letters Home author, Teresa Irish.

A Thousand Letters Home author, Teresa Irish.

The firsthand account through the eyes, heart and words of one soldier mirrors the journeys of many who served in WWII. From training camps across the U.S.A., to Ports of Embarkation where they boarded ships and crossed the ocean to fight on foreign soil, millions of young Americans were abruptly pulled from civilian life and thrust into the unfamiliar world of a military at war. At every opportunity, Bud poured his thoughts and feelings into his letters, all amidst reassuring words to loved ones a world away. Unable or perhaps reluctant to recount what they had experienced, many veterans chose to spare their loved ones the detailed atrocities of war – these would be their own personal burdens to bear for the remainder of their lives. Bud foreshadowed this in a letter to his parents written from Europe on February 4, 1945, “…Heaven knows they [soldiers] don’t want anything more on earth than to get it over and go back to their loved ones…We don’t want anything extra when we get home, but just want to find everything as we left it and forget everything that’s happened or we’ve seen over here…” 

Irish’s entertaining storytelling blends humor and history to leave audiences laughing, crying, and reminiscing. She reaches across generations with a little something for everyone. Lest we forget.  It’s a presentation you won’t want to miss!

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