The following is the text of a section from my website on my school's homepage that I wrote for parents that explained my mother's scrapbook:
Students have researched and presented speeches on WW II topics to give us a better understanding of the world Anne Frank lived in. After these presentations, when students read her diary, they understand more fully the powerful forces that affected the lives of all those who lived through that time. Most importantly, through the act of coming to know how a person their age faced great adversity, they truly grasp the power of the human spirit to rise above such suffering. Each year we close this study with the question that's on a poster I made which is taped to the classroom's whiteboard: "How will learning about her life change the way you live yours?"
Two of the speech topics presented are "The War Effort at Home" and "Stories of the Common Soldiers". Each time a student presents these topics, I'm reminded of my parents' stories. As with many couples of the time, my mother & dad married and then my father immediately enlisted in the Army to fight in WW II. My mother supported the war effort by working in an aircraft parts factory near New York City. Each year, I bring in a scrapbook she kept of the mementos she and my dad exchanged: from programs of USO-sponsored entertainment shows, a pamphlet on how US soldiers should act in England, to used ration books. Most of the scrapbook's pages, though, are filled with many, many incredibly romantic cards.
When I was of middle-school age, my mother began giving me "grown-up" books to read from the bookshelves in our house. I remember discovering once that most of them were copyrighted in 1943-4. As an adult, I figured out that my mother had purchased these books to read while my dad was overseas to keep her mind off her fears about his safety and the greater fate of her world.
Each person who has lived through dramatic historical times has many stories of their own to share about those times. Her scrapbook shows us how she kept my dad alive and close to her while he fought an uncertain war thousands of miles away.
Anne Frank wrote "I want to go on living, even after my death." By writing honestly about her brief life-its goodness as well as its strife--we are able to carry her story with us as we live our own lives. My mother and father have both passed on but this simple scrapbook brings their lives and stories to life for all the students who take a few moments to look through its pages.
Created by James DeLong and Jon Erickson
Copyright @ annefrankwall.org 2004