By Barb Hauge
Heavenly Father, I thank Thee for my wife and for our love which is by its strength makes us one. Prosper her in all things good and make me at all times worthy of her faith and trust in me and if it be Thy will, grant that we may be together soon in a peaceful world, a world made better by our sacrifice, our living and our love. Through Him who hallows our relationship; Thy Son our Lord. Amen.
After my young husband was killed in World War II, the United States Department of War sent me his stationary box filled with pictures, with letters he had saved, a Japanese ceremonial sash and on a sheet of Red Cross stationary he had written the above Prayer For My Wife. I was deeply touched and very, very angry. Its not easy to keep it together when you are besieged with such conflicting emotions as love and hate. And I certainly had come to hate war with a purple passion.
For 40 years I locked all the mementos and memories into a trunk and went on with my life. Then along came War in the Gulf where our youngest foster daughters husband was serving with Special Forces, which meant he was in extreme danger. All of the memories came flooding back. I unlocked the trunk and did a long overdue Scrapbook of Love and War. Since my first young husband was from a family of 16 children, the book was in great demand. One request for a copy came from The Jeannette Rankin Peace Center in Missoula, where it was featured as book of the month.
Without the love and support of my husband, Art, Of Love and War could never have been possible. I would get up at dawn, sorting and arranging the contents of that trunk. By breakfast Id be exhausted and weeping. He would hold me until I calmed down and wed go on with our daily life. Facing those buried memories was long overdue. Its never been easy, but must be done if one is to know peace of mind.
For the thousands of victims of World War II, both at home and abroad, there was no psychiatric help for grief counseling; no personal consoling by anyone in official capacity. Frank was killed on Okinawa Island June 20, 1945, in the final battle of World War II. Over a month later, on July 26, I got a telegram saying, The Secretary of War has asked me to express his deep regret that your husband PFC Varner, Frank O. was killed in action on Okinawa 20, June 45.
In a letter dated 27 July 1945, Arnold M. Kuester 1st Lt. 383rd Infantry Commanding said, Frank was with his Company on the 20th of June 1945, during an attack on the enemy-held town Aragachi. Enemy resistance during the advance was very heavy and our Company was harassed by machine guns and rifle fire from advantageous enemy positions. While continuing the advance under very heavy fire, Frank was hit by an enemy machine gun bullet. Medical aid was attempted, but his wound was of such serious nature that medical aid proved futile. Louis Evan, a buddy of Franks (they had been together when they attended DePaul University in Chicago under the Army Specialized Training Program) told me The Jap machine gun bullet went through Garth Randall, just wounding him and hit Frank a mortal blow in the sternum above his heart, killing Frank instantly. Frank jerked sideways and fell on his face. When they rolled Frank over his upper chest was destroyed and he was soaked in his own blood. Franks wire-rim G.I. glasses were smashed. These wire rims minus all the glass were in the stationary box.
God, I hate war!