I learned of this beautiful letter written by Lt. Commander John Shea, to his son Jackie, by watching one of the best History podcasts out there, "The Unauthorized History of the Pacific War," by Mr. Seth Paridon, and (Ret) Captain William Toti. I can't convey what an amazing job these men, and their guests' do on a consistent basis. Please check it out! The only letter that I can compare the letter to Jackie to in terms of faith, hope, kindness, and love, is King Saint Louis IX’s letter to his son, Phillip III. I pray that God will grant all of us Christian men the virtues necessary to be like Commander Shea in the face of adversity and peace.
Here's a little background about Commander John Shea from destroyerhistory.org. 'John Joseph Shea, born at Cambridge, Massachusetts on 13 January 1898, enlisted in the Naval Reserve Force on 11 June 1918. At the time of his release from active duty in 1919, he was promoted to the rank of ensign. He was honorably discharged in 1921 and reappointed in 1923. With the abolition of the Naval Reserve Force in 1925, he was transferred to the Fleet Reserve.
In 1941, he was transferred to the Regular Navy in the rank of lieutenant commander. Lt. Comdr. Shea was serving in Wasp (CV 7) on 15 September 1942, when she was torpedoed and sunk by the Japanese. He left the relative safety of his own station to direct the fight against the raging inferno on Wasp's flight deck. Amid frequent explosions and flying debris, he worked to save the carrier. He was leading out another hose to continue the struggle against the fires in a ready ammunition room when a shattering explosion occurred. In all probability, Lt. Comdr. Shea died in that explosion; but, lacking concrete proof of death, he was declared Missing in Action until a year and a day later when he was declared legally dead. Shea was awarded the Navy Cross and Purple Heart medals and was promoted to commander, all posthumously.'
This is the letter that was written from Commander Shea to his son, Jackie, brilliantly orated by Mr. Paridon on their Memorial Day 2023 Episode:
"June 29, 1943
This is the first letter that I've written directly to my little son, and I'm thrilled to know that you can read it all by yourself. If you miss some of the words, it's because I don't write very plainly. Mother will help you in that case, I'm very sure. I was certainly glad to hear your voice over the long-distance phone call. It sounded as if I was right in the living room, and it sounded as if you missed your daddy very much. I miss you too! More than anyone will ever know. It's too bad this war couldn't be delayed a few more years, so that I could grow up again with you, and do with you all the things I had planned to do with you when you were old enough to go to school. I thought how nice it would be for me to come home early in the afternoon to play ball with you. Go mountain climbing and see all the trees and brooks. To learn all about woodcraft, hunting, fishing, swimming, and things like that. I suppose we must be brave and put these things off for just a little while. When you are a little bigger, you'll know why your daddy is not home so much anymore.
You know we have a big country. We have ideals as to how people should live and enjoy the riches of it. How each is born with equal rights to life, freedom, and the pursuit of happiness. Unfortunately, there are some people and countries in the world where they do not have these ideals. Where a boy can't grow up to be what he wants to be with no limits. On his opportunities to be a great man, and ways whether a great Priest, Statesmen, Doctor, Soldier, Businessman, etc. Because there are people and countries who want to change our Nation, it's ideals, forms of government, and ways of life, we must leave our homes, and families to fight. Fighting for the defense of our country, ideals, homes, and honor, it's an honor and a duty what your daddy must do before he can return home to settle with you and mother. When it is done, he’s coming home to be with you always, and forever. So just wait a little while longer. I'm afraid it'll be a little longer than the two weeks you said on the phone. In the meantime, take good care of your mother. Be a good boy. Grow up to be a good young man. Study hard when you are in school. Be a leader in everything, in good, in life. Be a good Catholic, and you can't but being a good American. Play fair always. Strive to win, but if you must lose, lose like a Gentleman, and a good sportsman.
Don't ever be a quitter. Either in sports, your business, or your profession. Get all the education you can. Stay close to mother and always obey here. She'll never let you down or lead away from the right and honorable things in life. If I don't get back, you'll have to be mother's protector, because you will be the only one, she has. You'll have to grow up to take my place, and your own, in her life and heart. Love your grandmother and grandfather as long as they live. They too never let you down. Love your aunts and see them as often as you can. Last of all, don't ever forget your daddy. Pray for him to come back, but if it's God will, that he does not, be the kind of boy your daddy wants you to be. Thanks for the nice sweater and the handkerchiefs, and particularly, for the note and card. Write to me very often and tell me everything. Kiss mother for me every night. Goodbye for now. With all of my love and devotion for your mother and you, your daddy."
"Remember the fallen"
May the Holy Names of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph Be Blessed Now and Forever. We Love You, Save Souls!