David Peabody Guion – (Dave)
Trumbull, Conn., June 25th, 1944
Dear High School Graduate:
There are certain recurring events in the life and progress of my children that serve as steppingstones, aside from birthdays — such as turning you over to the Shelton draft board, and, what I have immediately in mind, graduation. I saw the youngest of my sons receive his diploma last night and it brought back memories of that same occasion for each of you. As far as I can recollect, however, the whole affair as managed the other night at Bassick (High School in Bridgeport, CT) was arranged and conducted in a more satisfactory manner than any of the previous ones — and that opinion has nothing to do with the fact that Dave had any part in it. To be sure he was one of three, out of a total of 26 who had joined the Armed Forces, who was on hand to receive his diploma, and thereby caused a little special ceremony to be enacted. Most of these affairs are too long. This was not. There was no tedious reading of each name and waiting for that person to come forward to receive his parchment to the accompaniment of reiterated and tiresome applause. Each received his diploma in silence as they walked out. All names were printed on the program given to each of the audience. Speeches were not overlong. The whole affair, with a very satisfying aftertaste, was ended by 9:30. So Dave became the “last of the Mohicans”.
Dave got home much earlier than we expected him. He walked into my office Monday, his army uniform plastered to his body by a naughty shower that hit him walking from the station. He looks about the same, healthy but with no additional weight. He seems much interested in the Signal Corps work and hopes, but is not banking on it, of getting a chance at O.C.S. He goes back Tuesday. Red Sirene is also home on furlough and he too goes back Tuesday. Jean’s (Mortensen, Dick’s wife) married brother, in the Marines, is also on furlough and he too goes back Tuesday.
I don’t suppose any of you have had the experience of a 300-pound object resting on your chest, but perhaps you can imagine the relief when he gets off. In that case you may have somewhat of an idea how I felt when I received a V-mail letter from London dated June 6th, as follows: “Today the war seems much nearer to its conclusion than only yesterday. For so long have we been working towards this day that it began to seem that it would never really happen — that it was just a distant “certainty” which we all took for granted — but never quite visualized! This morning I heard the first “rumor” third-hand, by word-of-mouth, ‘Allied paratroops have landed in France’. But false reports had already been spread days ago, and a glance out of the window at the streets of London failed to reveal any abnormality. No church bells, no horns blowing, just the normal traffic — both vehicular and pedestrian. London was characteristically undisturbed on the surface, but by noon-time when I went out to eat, I found that the newspapers had been sold out immediately and the invasion was the predominant topic of discussion. At the Red Cross Club I listened to the radio over which the BBC was broadcasting recordings of the opening stages. Later in the evening the radio was the center of interest. Never have I seen so many of the boys so interested in a news- cast. I suppose each of us realizes how, by a stroke of fate, we might have been one of the men going into France on ‘D’ Day! I am on duty tonight which prevents my finding out how London is spending the evening but I suspect there will be little hilarity because most of the people have friends and relatives in the invasion armies. The fall of Rome created hardly a ripple of excitement, and the staid BBC announced that item in its regular laconic fashion. The newspapers permitted themselves rather large headlines, but certainly not in the manner you could call sensational. I believe today marks the great speeding of the tempo that will carry this degenerate martian symphony to a brief but perhaps terrible coda. Then – peace! and home! and a convalescent world turning toward the healing sun of hope.”