Andrew Carroll, the Founding Director of the Center for American War Letters has a mission.
He’s been collecting war letters for about 22 years. So far, he has more than 150,000. He collects letters written to and from soldiers to also show what life was like on the home front during these times.
“What I most hope comes out of this project is that we can humanize these men and women who serve,” he said.”They’re not just soldiers, sailors airmen and marines. Every single one of them has a loved one, has a spouse or a sweetheart.”
“They’re a child. They’re a parents,” he added. ” Just to remind people that these are not statistics that go off to fight and to remember the actual names and stories of these incredible people.”
Letters range from the American Revolution until today and every conflict in between.
“This is without question one of our most stunning letters and it really gives you the sense of life and death circumstances under which these troops were serving,” Carroll explained as he held up a letter with a bullet hole through it.
The bullet went through the soldiers backpack, through the letter and into him. Luckily, he survived.
The most historic letter he has was written by a solider in Munich.
Carroll explained, “as soon as I opened this up I got chills because I could see the gold embossed letter head that said Adolf Hitler.”
The letter was written two days after Hitler killed himself. The man who wrote that letter described the luxury the Nazis were living in and the devastation of the concentration camps.
These are just two of thousands of incredible letters. Although Carroll lives in DC, most of these letters are at Chapman University, in California, where they’re preserved and archived.
This story originally appeared 13 Action News’ sister station WMAR-2.