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Friday, April 5, 2013

Dear John

The Dear John letter is almost a cliche in the American military. it's the letter many servicemen, stationed abroad in wartime, received - the letter that ended an engagement or marriage.

On the face of it, there's almost nothing as reprehensible. To coldly tell an individual who's had years taken from his life by war that he's been replaced in one's heart is stunningly cruel.

Not because 'feelings change' - but because feelings can be controlled by action, and opening oneself up to the opportunity for liaisons while one's fiance or spouse is serving is simply disloyal.

While this crushed the spirits of many recipients (likely led to many wartime deaths...of those who no longer gave a damn), there has been described, by Edwards Park, a nice countermove.

Park served with the US Army Air Force in New Guinea, and while he didn't receive a DJ, many of his fellow pilots did. Their answer was to post them on a bulletin board, for all to see.

Both as an expression of solidarity, and as an expression of public ridicule. A riposte to the syrupy romanticism that engendered the letters' existence ("Dear John, I know this will hurt you terribly, but something terribly big has happened to me, and I want you to be the first to know...").

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