The other day I had emailed a fellow Blue Star mom who also has a daughter and son in law in the Army. We mentioned the wonderful world of technology and the ability to be in constant contact with our loved ones deployed.
I started thinking back to 30 years ago when my husband re-enlisted in the Army. His MOS (Military Occupational Specialty) was in Communications. At his duty station at MacDill AFB, Florida, he would go often for TDY (Temporary Duty Assignment) which meant his duty would take him to destinations across the globe to train in all types of climates and regions. He was always gone long enough to miss, but not long enough for letters. We did not have home computers, internet, and emails, nor did we have cell phones. I learned to live with the motto “no news is good news”.
I was actually one of the lucky ones, because of his job at setting up communications, he always had access to a phone line. And they were sometimes allowed to call at least once during their TDY. At one time he called home and said, “guess what I am calling on”? They had to test the White House lines – which we called the red phone and were giving permission to call their families. So I can honestly say I got a call from the White House infamous red phone!
Other than that time, we would correspond through letters. 25 years later our son would leave for his first deployment and my husband for his last deployment, emails would replace letters and talking via internet was introduced. At first the families made appointments with the unit to speak with their husbands and sons through an internet link set up by their command. By time our son was deployed again Skype was common and now families were able to talk with their loved ones via the internet from the comfort of their homes and often. So much had changed in just 20 years in how we would write our deployed loved ones.
Can you imagine sailing from Europe to the new colonies knowing you will never see or hear from your family and friends back home ever again. Today we travel the globe and call, text and email our loved ones from one destination to the next.
Since 1776 when our country fought for their independence to the first pioneers heading west to the Civil War most ordinary citizens were illiterate and usually could not afford the postage to mail a letter through the official post. For those that could read and write they would send letters by way of an acquaintance traveling near the letters’ destination.
During WWI the post office had a challenge to get mail to the troops to France. Mail would need to go to a central point in NY then shipped by boat to France and from there transported with supplies to where the units were. So mail was slow at its best and often would get lost as troops continued to move. WWII saw an improvement with the introduction of air mail but most mail was still sent by ship transport and then on to where the troops were all over Europe. Visit NotsofancyNancy to read the letters from her dad to her mom during WWII.
With the organization of the Military Postal Service and the APO (Army/Airforce Post Office) and the FPO (Fleet Post Office) mail would now be easily sent to and from military posts all over the world in peace and war. Through the Korean Conflict to the Vietnam War and to the conflicts our soldiers have been engaged until recently, letters and packages were sent regularly – but still the soldier’s mail would take days and maybe weeks to make its destination.
Today we have email, cell phones,social networks, and talking via Skype. Although it is not that same as having your loved one home, it is the next best thing.
Communication has come a long way since the time the colonists first arrived on these shores. Letters have become a thing of the past from a bygone era. But as both my husband and son said, there is nothing like hearing your name during mail call and receiving that letter from home.