Spotlight on the Humanities | Jay Harden

The following is an excerpt of Jay Harden’s work that appears in Volume 3 of the Missouri Humanities Council’s veterans writing anthology, “Proud to Be: Writing by American Warriors” published by the Southeast Missouri State University Press.  To learn more about the work MHC does to support Missouri veterans, click here.

Proud to Be: Writing by American Warriors

Excerpt: My Mother of all Letters, by Jay Harden, pg. 26-27

“I remember exactly when I got my mother of all letters. The date was October 20, 1968. Five days earlier I had hopped a ride on a bombing mission from Anderson Air Force Base, Guam, and landed at Kadena Air Base, Okinawa, where I joined a new B-52 crew. We flew our first mission together the next day on my 25th birthday and landed on Guam. (Only four weeks later, that very aircraft aborted takeoff with a full bomb load and blew up off the end of the Kadena runway, killing two. Against all logic, I felt spared.)

The first treasure in my hand felt uniquely odd. In an anxious, fumbling caress I open it, pulling out a single sheet of pastel with smaller blue paper attached in the upper left corner and pink in the opposite. My heart cranked up to racing. Could it be? Could our future together be coming true?

Now I was in a daze, softly trembling with anticipation, breathing rapidly and happily, and well seasoned by fatigue from the subsiding vibrations of aeronautical intimacy with my 400,000-pound metal mama.

There in the middle of the page, in her confident, generous, and open swirls, she had simply handwritten these exquisite, echoing words: We are going to have a baby. I’m so happy & I love you so much.”

Harden, Jay. “My Mother of All Letters.” Proud to Be: Writing by American Warriors. Vol. 3. N.p.: Southeast Missouri State UP, 2014. 26-27. Print.

To get your copy of Volume 3, check out our store, where all proceeds are redirected to MHC initiatives like those that support our veterans.

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