My father served in World War II as an engineer in the United States Merchant Marine Service. He served on transport ships that were mostly without protection of their own or of other ships or aircraft. I know that he was afraid, at times, because he told me. He hated going below decks into the engine room knowing his fate was sealed if they suffered an enemy attack. He prayed a lot.
Dear Boss [Edgar Cayce]:
It is a week today since we sat with the radio turned on all through the morning and afternoon and night, hearing the first news of the invasion. Between the brief, tantalizing bulletins, that said so little and suggested so much, we prayed that not too many would have to be killed, not too many maimed, not too many blinded, shocked, disfigured; for they were dying for our sins — to save a liberty we imperiled by denying it to others…
On last Tuesday night at 11:15, I lay in bed listening to a broadcast from the invasion coast—one of those records made by the on-the-spot reporters… Charles Collingwood…said he was soaked through, that their landing craft was loaded with TNT, and that he was frankly nervous. The sound of firing was audible. He said, “I see a Naval captain stopping to look curiously at my rig. Perhaps I can get him to say a few words. Will you come over, Captain?” Then I heard a voice—a voice very familiar to me—say, “I'm not a captain. I'm just a lieutenant, but after you've been on this beach a little while you look like almost anything.”
“It's Jerry! Jerry Danzig!” I said to Mary. We listened closely. There could be no mistake—the phrasing, the choice of words, the laugh, all were Jerry's. But he sounded so calm, so matter-of-fact, that I could hardly believe he was not standing beside me, instead of supervising the unloading of a batch of dynamite on the invasion beach of Normandy, with shells dropping all around him…
Over the invasion coast the bombers flew. In one of them, two boys named Jim and Joe crouched at their guns—one in the top turret, one in the waist of the ship. They had come to see me before their crew left Drew Field in Tampa, to fly overseas. They were nervous, Jim particularly so. Both had been in England and completed the allotted 25 missions. They had returned to this country with the understanding that their combat days were over—they would be used to instruct. But there was a shortage of men; after a furlough and a stay at a rehabilitation center, they were assigned to a new crew—a green crew—and a new ship.
Their nervousness came from their feeling that they had run out of their luck. Joe's bomber was the only one left after 25 missions over Germany, the lone survivor of its squadron. Could he hope for the same good fortune again? Jim was even more depressed. He was one of five brothers, all in the service. Two had been killed; one had returned home, blind. He believed he had survived 25 missions because of the skill of his pilot; now he would have a new one, a green one…
“Well,” I said, “You can't lose. You're holding a royal flush. If you get back, the world is yours, and you will have memories to make the rest of your life rich. If you don't come back, you go over to the other side with money in the bank. Few of us get a chance to die for a good cause—with most of us it is a selfish lingering, and if we leave behind anything but our insurance we are lucky.
“The only important thing is the pattern. The body is a mess of atoms grouped around the pattern, the way iron filings group around a magnet. Take the magnet away and they are free to do as they please again. Your plane isn't much good without its crew. The crew is the pattern.
“Once a pattern is free, it can operate in other places—look at the sky when you're on a night run. Every star is a sun. There are more worlds than there are people on this earth. On some of them, things will be easier. We may not have to eat, or dig ditches. Our bodies may be lighter. Instead of taste, smell, hearing, touch, and sight, our five senses may be love, kindness, humility, appreciation of beauty, and longing. If so, there would be things for them to exercise upon, as there are things here for us to exercise our eyes and fingers and ears and nose on. Wouldn't that be wonderful—to taste love the way you taste a steak, to smell beauty the way you smell a flower, to touch humility the way you stroke a kitten, to hear longing the way you hear the wind, or music?
“Those worlds are in all stages of evolution. They need strong, brave souls, to do the things necessary for their unfoldment. You boys would qualify—a world may need a Columbus to discover new continents, an Edison to discover electricity, a Washington to free a nation, a Wright to discover the airplane. You might get the assignment. You would deserve it.”
I talked on in that vein, watching their reactions. Slowly their imaginations took fire. They were unmarried, young, adventurous—I painted a picture of the cosmos which sounded as attractive as the Wild West was to me in my boyhood. They began to make comments, to ask questions, to joke about what they would be and where they would go, after death.
“This place,” I said, “is just a mudball. I'll be glad to leave when my work is done. But I want to be sure the work is done, and done well, before I go, otherwise I'll be demoted instead of promoted. That's where you fellows have a sure bet. You take the sins of the world on your shoulders when you fly into battle.”
Our soldiers now are facing death, with clear eyes, strong hearts, and serene spirits. Can we face them in the same high way when they come back? If we have been about Our Father's business we can.
My love and best wishes to you …
1797-3 Report: July, 1944 Letter from Thomas Sugrue to Edgar Cayce
Used in 1944 A.R.E. Bulletin