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A son's debt to his mother's day

BY CAROLINE EGGERS - ceggers@perutribune.com

A century ago on Mother’s Day, Miami County native Luther F. Brown wrote a heartfelt letter to his mother as he was away on military duty.

Brown penned the following letter on the morning of May 12, 1918, and it was published in The Peru Sentinel on May 25, 1918 in a feature titled “A Soldier’s Tribute to his Mother.”

My Dear Mother:

“Even though Uncle Sam needed my service every minute during this entire day, I would write you the dearest woman on earth.  It had been proclaimed that this Sabbath day be Mother’s Day, and certainly there never was a time in the life of mothers that they should be remembered as they should now be, by the sons they have given to the cause of Liberty.  Whether these sons are those whose red blood called them to the flag or those whom Uncle Sam saw fit to bring to the colors in defense of human freedom, the love of mothers remain the same.

Already many American mothers have received the word that they have so feared, and there are thousands or more mothers who will receive that same sad message, but it should be consolation to them all to know that they have given their offspring to the greatest cause that ever dawned upon the life of man.  As God gave his only son that the world might be saved from sin, so the mothers of today are giving their sons, that the world will be freed from a people whose every action and every thought is inhuman, and who are trying to undo the wonderful things that God and civilization have done.  Through the long hot days in which the sons of Americans are being drilled and trained and meet anything they are apt to meet in “no man’s land,” it might seem that they sometimes neglect their mothers, but it is not true. I am quite certain there is not a day that passes but what we all think of mother and home.  Just this morning I heard a sergeant make the remark that he wish he had a mother to write to.  This is only a positive proof of a son’s love for his mother, even though she long has been laid to rest.

Mother, I loved you when I was a child.  I loved you in my high school days I loved you through all the days that I have been making my own way through the world, but today I feel a love for you that is far superior to all these others.  As I grow older day by day I realize more and more what you mean to me.  My one great hope is that I will get to see you before I cross “over there” when I will get a chance to repay in par a son’s debt to his mother’s day.  We can’t forget father. While a father’s love for his child can’t be what a TRUE mother’s love is, his whole heart is wrapped up in welfare of his boys and girls.  He may not show it so plainly but I KNOW it is there just the same.  I have proof of this in the big tears that rolled down father’s cheeks the day I bid all good-by to join the company I am now in, and to father I want to say that there is nothing so grand and noble that he could do as the giving of his namesake to the cause of democracy.

Please always think of me as one who loves his parents.

– L. F. B.”

According to Regine Brindle of Miami County Worth Remembering (MCWR), Brown was a member of the Indiana National Guard and was stationed at Camp Shelby in Hattiesburg, Mississippi as part of the 151st Infantry, Company C.

Brown was stationed with another Peru-reared solider, Alonzo Sarver, who drowned days before Brown wrote the letter.

Brindle hypothesized Brown wrote the letter in response to the tragedy.

“It’s a winner,” said Jerry Jenkins of MCWR. “I can’t read it, because it is so emotional to me. I tear up, it is just that poignant. We don’t always express ourselves that way today.”

In 2018, communication between mothers and their children in the military – or really just any child that’s away – is much easier than a century ago.

Conny Woodruff, owner of Conny’s Little German Breadshop, has two sons in the military and texts them goodnight every evening.

“But a handwritten letter is more special, I think,” Woodruff said.

The only time her two sons were restricted to communicate via handwritten letters was while they were in boot camp. One of her sons just graduated Air Force basic training.

As much as she loathed the idea of her sons suffering in boot camp, she loved the tangible expressions of love.  

“They wrote me more in a letter than they wrote while texting; I love the old-fashioned way,” Woodruff said. “I love it when I can hold it in my hand and later put in my book or on my nightstand. And later I can go back to it and hold on to it.”