Recently we sold one of our book display cases to a grandfather, Mr. Cleveland, who was intending to display his grandmothers personal Bible, and present it as a gift for his grandchildren. He had been keeping the Bible in a safe for several years, but once he retrieved it and started to thumb through it, he found several pieces of his family's history stuck between the pages.
The historic treasures he found included a WWII Ration book, and a few notes, hand written by his grandmother and stuck there for safekeeping. He also found a series of letters and telegrams that told the story of his uncle being captured by Japanese soldiers, and held as a prisoner of war.
All three of Mr. Cleveland's uncles fought in WWII, one in England, one in Africa, and the last in the Philippine's. This last uncle was captured by Japanese forces, and subjected to the Bataan Death march (a transfer of prisoners with high casualties, later named a war crime by an allied military commission), before being housed in a POW camp in Osaka, Japan. Found in the Bible was a newspaper article identifying Mr. Cleveland's uncle, and other soldiers from the local area, as a P.o.W.s. A hand written letter by the uncle in question was also included. It said that he was fine, and that he hoped to be free soon, but barring that he asked to be sent "...sweets of all kinds, vitamins, peanut butter, and saccharin." The letter was signed "from PVT.F.C. James E. Cleveland, American prisoner of war, Osaka."
Also included were two western Union telegrams. The first, dated Sept. 29th 1945, stated his uncle was "returned to military control on September 16." And the second says that he was being evacuated to the states, and should be back in Seattle October 25th.
I can picture his grandmother, receiving a telegram saying that her son had been freed, and that he would be returned to the states in the matter of weeks. I can't imagine the relief she must have felt once she knew that one of her loved ones had survived a series of terrible tribulations, but had emerged from the dark theater of war, relatively unscathed and excited to be home.
Mr. Cleveland said that the Bible and its contents were precious to him, and I wonder who wouldn't see them that way. It amazed me to hear how much important family history was contained within one book. As I thought about what it must have felt like to receive these notes, I felt some of the pain and relief of his grandmother as she read these messages about her son, and how worried she must have been for him, captured by enemy soldiers all the way across the world. But she knew how important and impactful all these notes and telegrams would be on future generations. She knew that here was a story to be told here, and kept as many parts of that story as she could, tucked away in a book that had so much sentimental value she knew it would survive.
We feel very lucky to be able to hear about this story and carry some of its emotional weight with us, and that we get to help him present this treasured heirloom in his home, and for his children and grandchildren. I hope you all got as much of a sentimental feeling reading this as I did writing it. If you have a treasured family bible, or any book really, you want displayed, then we have the perfect case for you, right here. Feel free to check out our Facebook to see what other people are using our cases for. Or click here to go straight to the front page of our website so you can start browsing our ever growing selection. Thank you all for reading. I hope I get to hear what you have in our cases very soon!