My Dear Jen Now
“My Dear Jen”
is primarily a tribute to my parents Donald and Jennie Gillespie.
Writing this book was also an opportunity for me to get to know
the father I never knew. Much of their story is told by letters my
father wrote to his wife and my mother Jen. These letters were
among her few possessions when she died at 100 years of age in
The World War I
letters and the historical context in which they have been placed
tell a compelling story from the trenches of war-torn France.
During the war Donald fought with the 165th Infantry of the
Rainbow Division. This regiment was the famous “Fighting
New York that took its place in American history during the Civil
War. He became an officer near the end of the war and was assigned
to the 371st U. S.
Infantry, an all black regiment that was assigned to the French.
Included here is his letter written on Armistice Day, November 11,
1918, and his description of the final shots of the war, and then
the German surrender. The well written, and generally upbeat and
positive tone in Don’s letters during times when he was
experiencing a lot of horrifying events speak much about his
letters, I have been told Don and Jen’s story in bits and pieces
over the years. In 1986, when my mother was 95 years of age, I
taped our conversation about her life over a dish of ice cream. It
was a trip back in time for her and a heartfelt experience for me
as I listened to her story. All I could do was to try and picture
what she saw, and try to paint a canvas of words as close to her
mind’s eye as I could between the pages of this book. As she said
during that conversation in 1986;
"If I could paint or draw, you
could see it all!”
The Author The
Fighting 69th Contents Events