Friday, May 22, 2015

In Memory Of The Unread Letter ~

Front row - My Mother, Leone, Me, and My Father, Millan
Back row - My oldest brother, Mac and my younger brother, John ~

As I have been anticipating Memorial Day Weekend this year; my heart has turned to my own family. This will be the first year without my brother John. Memorial day is to not only honor those who have given their lives for this great country but also those near and dear to us who have passed on. Since 2001, I have lost my parents and both brothers. Tears have been shed the last few days as my thoughts have been turned towards them all. I am looking forward to decorating their graves this year and remembering precious moments with them. 
Memorial Day has always been a big tradition in my own family. Each year we would travel to the cemeteries that our grandparents were buried in. I didn't know my grandparents on my Dad's side. His oldest brother, Max died at the age of two from pneumonia in 1914.  My Dad was born in August of 1916. His mother Maggie passed away from Brights disease in January of 1917. My father was only 5 months old at the time. 
My Grandmother, Maggie with my Dad, Millan~

 My Dad's Father Herbert was in the 1st World War and was killed in the trenches over in France on June  14th, 1918. My Dad was only 22 months old. 
My Grandfather Bert with my Dad, Millan Gledhill~

I have in my possession letters that were written between my Grandfather, Herbert (nicknamed Bert) and my Grandmother, Lillie Belle Gledhill. 
The following letter is the last one my grandfather wrote on June 13th,1918. He was killed the following day on June 14th,1918.
Dearest Parents;
 Once more I sit down to drop you a line. I am writing in a hurry to give to the runner to mail. I am still OK enjoying life as well as possible under these conditions. I will write you a long letter as soon as I get back from the front. A soldier friend just gave me this paper so I might write you and tell you I was still here and that the Germans didn't have me yet. I have received two or three letters from you since I last wrote but have been unable to write sooner and only by chance now writing on my knee. By your letters it seems like you are worrying about me now. Don't do it, for I am all right. I have had some real experiences all right but can't expect any thing else over here. Well the runner is here waiting for my note. I know him, so he is waiting. I am showing the picture of my boy to entertain him while I write. Give my love to all the folks, McMillan s, also I will write them all as soon as I can. I received a letter from Marion S. He had me beat for experiences on the ship but nothing to compare with mine on the land. I will tell you more of them when I can write. Well, will close with the love of a true son. 
Pvt. Herbert F. Gledhill. 
My Great Grandmother Lillie Belle Gledhill
Here is the letter that my Great Grandmother wrote to him; which was after he had already been killed. His parents were not informed of his death until June 27th, 1918. This letter was written on June 20th,1918. 
Our darling boy;
 How are you my angel, how are those crawlers using you. Did you get rid of them. I see by the papers that those lice are scattering fever and disease among our Americans. Tell me the truth about it, I feel so anxious about you and they certainly would not object to you letting one know how you are. And darling, are you in the trenches? Have you had to fight? We see by the papers that the Americans are doing wonders. They are very courageous and fight like demons. They have held their lines well, drove the enemy back and back, etc. We are happy when we hear they are blest and doing so well to bring peace. It seems a dreadful thing to shed so much blood to bring about peace and righteousness. The world is certainly ripe with iniquity and God will have a righteous people. If they will not listen, troubles will be fall them and sweep them of the earth and a more perfected people rule. 
My but it seems terrible though, but we are proud of our Solider Boy who has sacrificed so much for his country and people to help bring about peace. Some mothers has given their all; some two, three, and four boys. When I know of this I think, oh what a sacrifice but how great the blessing. My thoughts by day and by night is upon you. Sometimes, I feel your presence with me. I feel you near me with those loving arms around me and I am trying my best to be as you want me to be. 
Our darling son, God bless and take charge of you. Keep yourself pure and clean my boy. Use your influences for good every chance you have. Explain the saving principles of the gospel to your associates and comrades.If you can get but one soul to forsake sin and work for eternal blessings great will be your reward.  We know we feel assured you are preaching the gospel. I just heard of a man who had written home, that had been on 2 previous church missions and was right in the trenches. But says he; I have done more good by living right and every opportunity I have I explain our teachings of the gospel, our organization, etc, than done in all the 4 1/2 years on my missions. I have investigators; they love to hear of us and our people and our country. We boys are missionaries over here; many testimonies do we hear of like so many boys there, so many writing to their folks at home. 
We do tell of our boy doing his best; wishing he knew more to tell of our faith but we know with out a doubt he is preaching by his living. You can do so much there and you are going to do so much to bring about righteousness in the earth. Never get discouraged darling, trust in the Lord every day, every hour. You need him. Bullets may fly all over you and yet if it's God's will, he can save you. So darling trust I know you do, but I want to keep you thinking and praying every minute for the strength to carry you through safe. 
Well I am 2 or 3 days behind with any letter, sorry to say I have been cleaning house since I came from the temple and have been so tired I couldn't write. Our Conference Relief Society and Stake next Sat. and Sun. at Monroe. I am expecting to take the visiting sisters home with me, so I had to get to work. I could not let them see us so dirty and I've only done so little too. I can't do as I have done before. I give out and get so tired. I just sit down and cry as if that would help the work. I am not so young as I was a half century ago. 
The folks are all well. I sent your letter to Jane on to Manti where she is working in the temple. I will send your locket with this letter. I have been trying to get the picture of Maggie taken small enough to go in it to Mrs. McMillan. ( my Grandmother's mother) She had one taken of one at Salt Lake. She just brought it yesterday so I will send it right on to you. You can wear it around your neck and carry it with you everywhere night and day. It has our Monogram on the outside and will be a comfort to you to see your wife and baby with you. You will feel her influence too and help to guard you from harm.  
I must close for this time, we haven't had breakfast. Papa was to mill yesterday for grist. It's been raining everyday a little for several days. It's cleared and fine, we certainly appreciate the rain. As the crops were burning all the canals have broken through with the floods. 
Boys are in the beets everyday; they work so hard. Well darling be wise and careful. Take good care of yourself - write as often as you can. Verge is on the ocean. Frank Kane in Texas. 
May God bless and care for our angel boy, take charge of him and return him safe to us. Won't it be a day of rejoicing though when you all come marching home. Those loving words you wrote to Mother on Mother's day; that pamphlet of sweet sentiments of yours. I prize every word every line. Tell me when you get your locket. Did you get the crystal for your watch? You should send the one your Papa gave you home and Papa can get it fixed.
(Transcribed from the original letters)

 Here are pictures of this precious locket mentioned above with a picture of my Dad on one side and a picture of his mother on the other. It is one of my greatest treasures.

May you all remember those that have gone on before and enjoy celebrating their lives and perhaps decorating their graves this Memorial Day~ 


Marie Rayner said...

What a touching post LeAnn, but then all of your posts touch my heart. You are so blessed to have these treasures. I am sure things like that exist in our family, but I don't know who has them. Love and hugs. xoxoxo

Marsha said...

Oh my....what family treasures you have. I loved reading the letters and feeling within my heart the love of a mother for her son. There are things felt from the heart of a mother that written words can never say.

Barb said...

Hi LeAnn~

Oh my goodness, what a tear-filled post . . . for me. I love that you have those beautiful letters to remind you of your sweet ancestors, and their love for one another, what a blessing for you! Is your grandfather buried in Utah? If so, how wonderful to visit his grave and remember the sacrifice he made for all of us, but especially for his family.

I loved your grandmother's letter - how sweet. You could really feel the love she had for her son, very precious. The locket is such a sweet and precious keepsake for you as well.

I know that you have shed many tears, and I pray that you will be comforted, and know that you have so many who love and cherish you!

Much Love,

Cheryl @ TFD said...

This is a wonderful post, LeAnn. It is heartbreaking to read the words that your dear grandfather never got to read. I can't imagine the heartache that countless families went through waiting to hear from their soldiers and then getting the word they weren't coming home. It's beyond sad. I'm so grateful to these brave men and women who gave their all so that we might be free.
Have a wonderful weekend!

Mom of 12 said...

This is so beautiful! You are so fortunate to have such amazing momentoes.

Debbie said...

I read every word from the letters and I was overcome with emotion. Sometimes, it's just not real until you read a story like this.....then you get goose bumps and are filled with sadness!! Filled with the real life stories of the men and woman who made the ultimate sacrifice, their families did as well. We must never forget these people and their families!!


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