Here's a poignant story, just in time for Memorial Day.
I found telegrams, postcards and photographs that tell (not tell, really,so much as hint at, point to, these are clues) the sad tale of my great-grandmother's brother, Raleigh Corbin, a WWI (?) soldier, who died young, in 1936, after being wounded. (He's in the above photograph somewhere there with his fellow soldiers in Bessemer, Alabama.) Apparently, he languished for several weeks in the Veteran's hospital in Oteen, North Carolina, worrying about his mother.
He sent a postcard, a "bird's eye view" from the hospital "in the land of the sky" on June 13, 1936 to his mother in Dillard, Georgia, writing he was "just fine," and he felt "like going fishing."
But a week later, he wrote to his sister, sending her an application for their mother to complete so she "can establish her depencia," that is, establish her dependency (as his beneficiary) so she could collect his pension. He asked his sister to go to a lawyer they knew in town "and do what every is necessary and I will pay him." He worried his mother would have too much pride to take the money, but told his sister, "She might as well have it. I know plenty mothers getting it who has twenty dollars to mother's one."
A month later, a heart-breaking telegram arrived: "deeply regret to inform that your your son died one thirty a.m.. Please wire collect where you wish body shipped." Most striking was the request, "for benefit of other veterans request your permission for scientific examination of body without disfigurement."
Her response: "Send my son's body to Bryant Funeral Home Franklin. Desire no post-mortem made."
A postcard from Canon, Colorado from a relative arrived months later. "Why didn't you write once in a while? I feel that if you had known of Raleigh's death you would have let me know. I just heard today that he had died in Veteran's Hospital in Oteen, NC. I feel terrible about it. I wrote him...I guess he was too sick to answer."