Honey I Am Really Scared this Time

Letter from Paul Greenberg to Esther Greenberg, Sept. 28, 1951 (excerpt)Letter from Paul Greenberg to Esther Greenberg, Sept. 28, 1951 (excerpt)

In this letter, we return to Sasebo, Japan in September of 1951, where my father was recovering from a massive case of dysentery. He is about to be sent back to Korea, possibly again to the front lines, and he shares his fears with my mother. My parents married secretly in the fall of 1950, after my father finished basic training in the States and before he went overseas to Korea. On February 10, 1951, they had a public wedding, while my father was home on a leave. My parents did not live together as a married couple until his honorable discharge from military service in June of 1952. 

September 28, 1951
Sasebo, Japan

Dearest Esther,

This is one of those difficult times. I am going back to Korea. After all the assurances from the doctor that I wouldn’t go back I am on the way. I am not positive I will go back to the front lines or not. That remains to be seen. However it is more than likely I will go there.

Honey I am really scared this time. I do not believe in premonitions or anything of that sort but I have an overall feeling of gloom.

If I were going off to fight for something I really believed in something worth fighting for I might be scared for I believe the man who is not afraid of death is foolish but this way — there is so much left behind, so much to do and to say.

I hate to be depressing honey but I have to let it out. If anything should happen and I do not come back you must know how much you have meant to me. There is no sense in wishing that things had been different. You you may change the course of the future but the past remains unalterably intact as it happened. I can’t think in terms of not having met you or not falling in love with you. If I met you again under the same set of circumstances I have no doubt the result would have been the same unless of course you were a little bit more discerning and decided I wasn’t wroth the trouble.

I have no doubts now that if I were to come home we would find it all well worth the trouble — that in a few years all the heartaches would seem insignificant. Part of my depression now is that if I do not come home I never will have the chance to prove that. I am not trying to write a premature last will and testament. No lines of what I would like you to do. I think you know that. I want you to be happy and until now you have had very little happiness because of me. To the contrary you have had a good deal of unhappiness. I can’t say, “if anything happens don’t feel badly, don’t mourn ect [sic]” I would be very hurt if I thought you wouldn’t. I haven’t the mental energy right now to detail it but we both know what we believe and more or less what we want and I want you to have it regardless. I think this is the the crux of what I have to say about the future.

On a less pessimistic note, if and when I do come home I will be a much better person a much stronger person than when I left. It may take a while for me to settle my nerves but this is normal. After all at best all is nerve wracking and abnormal here. This last too is testament to what you mean to me honey. Gloom and all I can’t think of a future with out you and there is a strong drive to preserve myself for that future. Believe me honey that is a tremendous thing. I have seen men die for the lack of the same. I might have myself if it was not with me all the time.

This is all beginning to sound like a last letter. Maybe I am too tired now. I did spend 20 hours on the train getting here. I will write again tomorrow. I love you always


November 19, 2014