A World War II Soldier's Letter Was Just Delivered to His Family—76 Years After It Was Written
For many active-duty soldiers, hand-written letters are their main form communication with loved ones, so imagine sending a note home from overseas and it not arriving for another seven decades. While it's unlikely in today's world, that was the case for American soldier John Gonsalves who served in Germany during the aftermath of World War II. The then 22-year-old soldier penned a letter to his mother on December 6, 1945, but it wouldn't arrive home for another 76 years.
The note was supposed to go to his mother's house in Woburn, Massachusetts—just outside of Boston—to update her on how he was doing. "Dear Mom, Received another letter from you today and was happy to hear that everything is okay," he wrote. "As for myself, I'm fine and getting along okay. But as for the food, it's pretty lousy most all the time." While he ultimately made it home from Germany safely, his letter was lost along the way and was found last year at a United States Postal Service distribution facility in Pittsburgh.
After their discovery, workers at the post office tracked down the soldier's family and finally delivered his decades old letter. Although John died in 2015 at age 92, the airmail envelope was given to his 89-year-old widow, Angelina Gonsalves. "Imagine that, 76 years," she told WXFT-TV. "I just, I couldn't believe it. And then just his handwriting and everything. It was just so amazing. It's like he came back to me."
The letter arrived to Angelina's home in Woburn around Christmas time, which she notes was John's favorite time of year. "It was just a funny feeling that I had," she says. "Like he was around us at Christmas-time." The couple met in 1949—after John arrived home from war—when he gave her and her friend a ride home from the shoe factory where they all worked, the New York Times reports. They wed in 1953 and had five children throughout their 61-year marriage. "We were good together," she said of John. "I had a good Life, I really did. It was wonderful."