COMMENTARY: Sending away a piece of my heart
In a few days a woman in Hawaii will open an envelope and pull out a piece of my roommate’s heart, and a piece of mine as well.
My roommate had told me a long time back that she had a Bible signed by President Franklin Roosevelt.
Going through Wanda’s possessions after she died, I found not one Bible that met that description, but two. Roosevelt composed a message printed on the first page of the pocket New Testament, and the Bibles were distributed to all soldiers during World War II.
“As Commander-in-Chief I take pleasure in commending the reading of the Bible to all who serve in the armed forces of the United States. Throughout the centuries men of many faiths and diverse origins have found in the Sacred Book words of wisdom, counsel and inspiration. It is a foundation of strength and now, as always, an aid in attaining the highest aspirations of the human soul. Very sincerely yours, Franklin D. Roosevelt.”
One of the two New Testaments was what was called a “heart shield” Bible. The metal front and back covers were believed to be bulletproof. That Bible had the rank, name, and address of its owner written inside, and was in surprisingly good condition for a book nearly 80 years old.
Wondering if I might learn anything about that soldier, I searched the Internet for the name “Edward Kim.” Though I didn’t find anything specifically about the soldier, I did find three physicians with that name. One in New York, one in California, and the third in Seattle. I researched e-mail addresses for their offices and sent messages asking each if perhaps he is the soldier’s descendant.
I’m not sure which doctor’s family forwarded my e-mail around, but about a week later I got an answer from Beth Kim, of Redmond, Washington. Her daughter had sent her my e-mail and she wanted to know a bit more. It turns out she is married to that soldier’s son, also named Edward Kim.
We messaged back and forth for a while and wondered how Wanda had come into possession of the Bible. I told her I had never asked Wanda how she got it. I did, though, find that Wanda had lived for a time in the same town as members of Edward Kim’s first wife’s family.
He was married shortly before he went to the war, and divorced soon after returning home. Ruth and I suspect the book had been a gift from Edward Kim’s first wife, and that he didn’t carry it around because he was likely a Buddhist at that time. He had, however, converted to Christianity later, married again, and had a family with his second wife.
My original goal had been to sell it as a way to recapture part of what Wanda’s final arrangements cost. However, the part of me that is the mother of a soldier — on duty in the Middle East at the time I found the Bible — wanted to return it to Edward Kim’s family.
I’m glad I accomplished that in mailing it today.
Last modified April 3, 2019