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Sharing History


By Rebecca Howells, Bloomsburg University

February 2012

I decided to visit my grandparents one last time before the start of my spring semester. They asked their usual back-to-school questions. When I told them about my internship with MBDA, they were somewhat confused and somewhat intrigued. My grandparents aren’t the most computer savvy people, and explaining what I would be doing was difficult without visuals, so I grabbed my laptop from my car and pulled up the MBDA developmental site. I started explaining to them who Martha Berry was, where the school is located, etc. I began showing them a few documents I found interesting and explained the editing process. When I came across this letter, I could tell I hit a nerve.

This letter was written to Martha Berry by S.H. Cook in August of 1918. He apologizes for not being able to attend school this year and goes on to wish her a successful school year. He then explains that two men, who were too old to enlist, came into his office the other day. They had both lost sons in the war and they had come to sign up and fill the vacant spots. After I read this out loud to my grandmother, whom I call Tootsie, her mouth dropped and tears began to well up in her eyes. My grandmother is a very patriotic woman. She’s the youngest of 10 children. 7 of her brothers served in World War II. One received a purple heart. Another stormed the shores of Normandy. And all of them put their lives on the line for their country. The fact that these men were willing to take the places of their sons who were killed in action really moved my grandmother.
 

MBDA isn’t just for the students at Berry or the people in Georgia. My grandmother had never heard of Martha Berry before I introduced her to this project and yet she still found a way to connect personally to the documents being edited on this site.


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