Andrew Carroll peered through a hole in the center of a tattered piece of paper. The edges of the hole were burned from where the bullet entered through a soldier’s backpack.
It’s one of the most unique items in his collection.
“I can’t actually read it all because of the hole,” he said while sitting in the Seminole Historical Society.
The author and war historian is on a mission to collect one million war-related letters from all major conflicts in USA military history.
“He says, ‘Honey, don’t worry about anything’,” Carroll read from a WWII soldier’s note home. “I got chills when we receive this letter because it’s just such a vivid example of the life and death circumstances under which these soldiers were writing.”
“As she was writing this letter she was sobbing,” he said as he read one woman’s account of the 9-11 terrorist attacks on New York’s World Trade Center towers.
Each letter showcased the feelings and moments from the place that they were written. Some letters showcase the final minutes of a person’s life and their wishes for loved ones back home.
“It’s pretty hard to check out his way without a fighting chance but I guess we can’t all live forever,” he read. “Every day we hear stories of these letters being thrown out, or lost, or neglected. Our mission is to preserve them before they are lost forever.”
It took Carroll 20 years to collect over 100,000 letters. Since putting them on display at Chapman, he’s collected an additional 50,000 in just a few months. He hopes the display will expedite the process of reaching the million letters goal.