The Muhlenberg Memories Project

The Nature of the War

Harry Becker ‘47, writing from India, wrote, “This business of war is not a series of glamorous adventures as the movies paint it to be. It is a darn tough job. The first week or so we spent sleeping on the ground. Anyone who has been in India a week or more certainly realizes America is worth fighting for.” (25 May 1943). 
Harry Becker ‘47
Writing from Sioux Falls, SD, one soldier wrote, “The army is no bed of roses, but there’s a war to be won and it can’t be won with roses” (Charles F. Diehl ‘37, N.D.).  
Charles F. Diehl ‘37, N.D.
In a letter dated July 28, 1944, a young Army lieutenant writes about rights of the United States, “Before this chaos is over I hope to join those defending our rights” against the Japanese (Marvin Geiger ‘37).  Lt.(jg) Wilmer Cressman ’42 wrote with more fury about the war: Some day I should write a book titled “Inside Pacific” or something since I’ve followed this blasted war across thousands of miles of it from the Marshalls through the Marianas campaigns to the Philippines” (30 January 1945). 
Wilmer Cressman yearbook photograph.
Lt.(jg) Wilmer Cressman ’42
As with most Americans in the early 1940s, many of the active duty Muhlenberg men, while college-educated, lived much of their lives, prior to the war, in rather circumscribed communities. They were quite young, in their late teens and early 20s, and somewhat provincial in their cultural competencies; thus, many of their expressions, as they moved from one country to another, illustrated a compelling sense of “us” vs. them,* even when engaged in ally countries.
*You will notice that some of the letters referenced in the text are not available in full online. In order to publish the letters we have made available, we have received permission from the writer or his family. We hope to gather more permissions over time and publish more letters. In the meantime, if you would like to read any letter in the collection, please contact Susan in Special Collections and Archives at