The lady in the center of your May/June cover, smiling into the camera and holding up the Stars and Stripes “Peace” edition, is my extraordinary mother, Edith Nelle Franklin. She is ninety-four now, in good health and spirits, and is every bit as mentally proficient as she was in Paris fifty years ago, when the picture was taken. She lives in Illinois, has many friends, corresponds with her old WAAC companions, plays a deadly game of contract bridge, and makes several trips a year to visit the West Coast members of her family.
The scene is a poignant display of the sudden emotional release we all felt at the ending of those chaotic World War II years of grinding anger, brutality, dislocation, and danger. Every face radiates the open relief, delight, and shared affection we had kept imprisoned for so long.
Sadly, though, there is another, darker side to this particular picture. Two nights earlier and just a few miles away, my brilliant, patriotic younger brother had been accidentally struck and killed in his tent by a falling false-armistice bullet. My mother didn’t know then of her son’s death, and wouldn’t until she tried to call him later, after the picture had been taken. It’s so true that in all human conflict, tragedy and sorrow stand just a breath away.
Thank you, though, for helping my family remember a truly happy moment for my mother and for recalling our long-ago peace that gave the world a boundless blessing and offered humanity yet another opportunity for renewal.