Why Civilians Must Acknowledge the Individual Cost of War

Photo: U.S. Army / Flickr

“We as civilians–who elect certain leaders and rally behind a war–have an obligation to understand what we’re asking [the troops to give up] and I hope that these letters do that,” says Andrew Carroll, a Washington, D.C., based historian. Carroll has devoted the past 16 years to collecting and preserving war correspondences throughout American history.

These letters provide an intimate look into the experiences of the men and women who have fought America’s wars. “It’s not the president or general who’s far-removed from the battlefield, it’s the individual who’s right there in the trenches or in the foxholes, that’s what brings war to life,” says Carroll.He hopes that these letters will humanize the men and women in uniform so that “[Americans] no longer see them as just soldiers, airman, marines, or sailors, but as somebody’s spouse or child or parent or best friend.”

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