March 17th, 1917
Dear Bob,
I hope this reaches you by your birthday, turning 18 is exciting for any young boy. But in the most recent letter I have received, father informed me that you were interested in enlisting for the War. I feel obligated as your older brother to warn you against this. In the time I have been overseas yet to experience a moment of peace. The enlistment posters are all lies, the trenches are being drastically glorified. The trenches are not made for the faint of heart, or even the strongest men, in some places the water is so high it reaches my knees. The sight of some of these men is enough to bring a grown man to his knees, they are filth and blood covered messes. Nighttime is the worst, all you can hear is the constant enemy fire, and the screams of the wounded in No Man’s land. It’s never silent, and when you think that the fire has almost died down another bomb is fired. The other day we went over the top, the amount of living men left behind was stifling, I can still hear their screams over the sound of bombs. I haven’t slept for more than a few hours over the past couple weeks. During the day, the work is grueling, I believe I am starting to develop a case of trench foot from standing in water all day long. Even without the water, my feet are constantly in pain. As the war drags on, the food rations are becoming increasingly smaller, all the men are cranky from lack of food. The physical pain is nothing compared to the emotional wounds, but none of the men would be caught dead talking about their emotions. One man couldn’t stop shaking, eventually the Generals were sick of his act and we have not seen him since. People wake up screaming, reliving the nightmares of battle takes its toll. Some of the men are taking their lives to escape the horrors, some try to run but are charged with desertion. Unfortunately, I don’t believe the war will die out anytime soon, every side accumulates wins and losses at the same rate. I hope to be home soon, and I hope you consider my words. Give my best wishes to mother and father.
Mark Harmon