This Business of Fighting: A Human Face on World War II
Storytelling for Grownups
Materials for Schools
"...It is a struggle between the animal and whatever there is good in men, this business of fighting. The closer one gets to the point where a guy points a rifle at another guy and pulls the trigger, the more violent the struggle becomes and the harder it is to preserve a trifle of human decency and dignity..."
- Letter home from Luxembourg, February 3, 1945
Early in 1942, a young man from Rhode Island, Tony Pritchard, who had rarely been outside New England, went into the U.S. Army. By the time he returned home more than five years later, he had been all over the United States and Western Europe, had led troops in combat, had nearly died, had worked with refugees, and in general had encountered a world far wider and far more brutal than anything he had known.
Years later his son Arnie inherited Tony's old army foot locker. It turned out to contain hundreds of letters, photos, and other documents from this time. These sources vividly portray the people, places, and events which he encountered. They also portray the hopes, fears, and passions which he and others struggled with as they played their parts in the largest conflict in human history.
As Arnie became immersed in wartime material, a narrative began to emerge, and he put his father's letters into a presentation designed to entertain, to educate, and to enlighten. Arnie is now an historical World War II storyteller, chronicling Tony's experience of the European campaigns of 1944-45.
Arnie Pritchard's presentation and historical analysis fits in perfectly with the Common Core Curriculum's emphasis on close reading and analysis of short nonfiction texts. Tony's letters have been used in college courses, and could be used to create effective curriculum units for high school and middle school students.