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Good vs. evil: Letters tell stories of love, death, war and the fight for freedom

Global Perspectives with Ellie Cohanim and guest Chris Mitchell, Ep. 35.

More than a month after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, amid talk of World War III and worldwide economic demise—and with COVID-19 still lingering in the background—depression is on the rise among Americans of all ages, according to recent reports.

One has to wonder: How did those who lived through the Great Depression and World War II make it through? Some answers can be found in a new book, Dearest A.J.: The Letters that Kept Love Alive Through the Midst of War, by Christian Broadcasting Network’s Middle East correspondent Chris Mitchell.

The book centers on a series of letters between two lovers, Mitchell’s parents—Mitch and A.J—torn apart by World War II. Mitch serves in North Africa, Sicily and Italy, chronicling his love and the tragedies of war in his letters, which Mitchell discovered in 2002 after his mother passed away. In total, 77 letters were discovered. The first was dated May 8, 1943.

Mitchell said the book highlights life for the “Greatest Generation” and how his parents’ “love for each other, their values and their love of God got them through. And I think that’s a lesson for us today. It’s really a reminder for us to maintain, during these perilous times, love for each other and God.”

Mitchell said his father and his fellow soldiers knew they were fighting for America’s freedom during the war.

“That’s the theme of the letters,” said Mitchell. “Fighting for their freedom and for the kind of way of life that they were used to. … They knew the privileges and the life that they had.”

Mitchell said the letters demonstrate how the American fighters knew the difference between good and evil and were willing to dedicate their lives, put their lives on the line, to defend the world against evil.

The letters detail many close calls.

“One of them was when they were right near the enemy and actually had to take refuge in a church. His driver was on one side of the church, and he and a few others were on the other side. The driver decided to make a run for it because he thought where the others were was a safer place. As he was running, a mortar shell hit close by and a piece of shrapnel went right through him. He died before he actually hit the ground,” Mitchell recounted from the book. “We heard that story many times.”

Mitchell said that many times when his father would tell war stories, he would break down crying, even years later “because he was reliving the terror that these artillery shells were. Many men just like my dad continue to relive what it was like.”

About “Global Perspectives with Ellie Cohanim”:

“Global Perspectives” is Jewish News Syndicate’s newest production. Join former U.S. Deputy Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism at the U.S. Department of State Ellie Cohanim, as she hosts some of the most important geopolitical conversations taking place in the Jewish world today. Cohanim, a sought-after speaker in her own right, interviews heads of state, policymakers, thought leaders and activists, in frank and open discussions.

These conversations provide key insights into critical and time-sensitive issues, including the Iranian nuclear threat, the rise of violent anti-Semitism, anti-Zionist activities, Christian and Muslim support for Israel, and the historic Abraham Accords.

The opinions and facts presented in this article are those of the author, and neither JNS nor its partners assume any responsibility for them.
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