Unfinished Journey is a tribute by a brother to his brother who died while fighting the Nazis in World War II. The book is a collection of letters that Kerry P. Redmann's brother, PFC Morris B. Redmann, wrote home from October 20, 1943 to January 11, 1945, chronicling the start of his Army training in Camp Beauregard, Louisiana, to his experiences in Europe. He died three days after the last letter, when he was hit by shrapnel from German artillery shells during the Battle of the Bulge. Included with the letters are poems, journal entries, and postcards. While most of the missives are written to his parents, there are also letters to aunts, uncles, and each of his nine siblings, including letters in French to his only sister, Esther (which sadly, are not translated into English, and I had to rely on my spotty high school French to translate).
Morris, eighteen at the time he was drafted, was already a college graduate and had begun law school at Loyola University. When he was called to duty, he answered the call without complaint. His letters home are sometimes humorous, sometimes wistful, but always very intelligent and eloquent. Morris's communications reveal a wisdom and maturity beyond his years, and a deep and abiding love for God, his country, and his family. As he becomes entangled in the web of death and destruction in the war, Morris's letters become darker and more pessimistic. We see a drastic evolution from the fresh-faced young man who arrived at basic training to a hardened soldier who has seen more than his fair share of blood and tears. Throughout the book, Kerry Redmann fills in any blanks to give the reader further context and information.
Morris, a prolific writer, gives a lot of insight into his life in these letters, even after censors forced him to write with care. We feel as if we get to know him and his family, and feel shock and sadness at seeing the brief Western Union telegram announcing his death (appearing directly after Morris's final letter). Though this is a remembrance, it is still sad to think of a life with so much potential being cut tragically short. Morris B. Redmann is one soldier among thousands who died, and fortunately, his story has been preserved, although many have been lost.
Photographs of the Redmann family and archival photographs from the war add to this poignant memorial. So, too, does the section at the end, which contains condolence letters that the family received from distant friends, family, colleagues, and the war department. It is generous of Kerry P. Redmann to have taken these bundles of letters out of the attic and share them with the rest of the world. His brother's story is one well worth sharing and well worth reading, particularly if you have an interest in World War II or military history.