A Wartime Proposal

Cecil Walter/Courtesy of: Erika Perez


My great grandfather Cecil wrote this letter to my great grandmother Faye when he returned home from a deployment to France in World War One. A little older than she was, he was actually her teacher at one point. But he fell in love with the girl who always wore purple and this is what came of it. It’s amazing to know that this is in my blood.

So read it and weep. Peek through the windows into their love story, and to this proposal that was written so she wouldn’t be swayed by the way he looked in his uniform. It doesn’t get more romantic than this.

Danville, Ill., July, 16, 1919.

Dear Faye:

I found your note when I came in Saturday night and it set me to thinking how few things in this world we can be absolutely sure about. We know so very little, and there are so many things we might have known or ought to have known at the time and did not realize till later.

When did I begin to love you? I don’t know, but I do know that I was always glad to get your letters and was often thinking of you and wondering how you were and what you were doing and whether you ever thought of me. I remember once when I was at your house you went somewhere to visit some girl friends and I was quite disappointed in not getting to visit more with you. Yet even then, it never occurred to me that there was any possibility that I might fall in love with the little girl who used to have trouble with complex fractions. I came up to see you graduate from high school and I can’t tell you how proud I was of you, and, that you had once been a pupil of mine. I ought to have know then but I didn’t. Why was I so blind? Then the war came and I decided that it was my duty to enlist. I had to make a trip home […]and I can’t tell you how badly I wanted to see you. Not till then did I ask myself why I was so much more interested in you than in any other friend I had and I began to realize what it was that had me in its grip. Then I didn’t dare come. I was afraid. I was afraid that in spite of myself I would tell you of that which no man has a right to talk of to a woman on the eve of going to war.

Besides I realized how almost impossible the things was. There wasn’t a chance in a thousand that you could be brought to care for me at all in that way. You deserved a younger and a much better man. I finally decided that the right thing for me to do was to go without seeing you and try to forget-not you-but that I had ever allowed myself to think such foolish thoughts. Perhaps, I thought, after all I might be mistaken about my own feelings and would be glad when I came back to find you engaged, or married to some good man. Well, the experiment wouldn’t work. I couldn’t forget and the farther away I got, the more hopeless I felt. I do not know how I would have gotten along without your letters.

When the armistice finally stopped the fighting, there was no soldier in France more anxious to get home than I was. How this time dragged! Before I had reached home I had made up my mind that you had a moral right to know how I felt toward you, but that you must see me in citizen’s clothes first. The romance of a soldier’s life should have nothing to do with the story I had to tell.

But however long the story, it finally resolves itself into just this. Faye, I love you. Will you be my wife? Faye, this letter is all one thing but that one thing is all I am able to think of just now. When may I see you? Is it asking to much to ask that I have my answer from your lips?

Whether or not your are ever mine, I am always yours,

Cecil E. Walter.


4 thoughts on “A Wartime Proposal”

  1. This was my grandfather. He died when my father was only about 3 years old, so I never met him, and my father didn’t remember him. My father knew him, though – knew who he was. Everyone who had met Cecil knew what kind of man he was, and my father grew up to be like him.

    I still can’t read this without crying a bit and wishing I could have known my grandfather. I treasure the memories I have of my own father, and count it one of my richest blessings to have known and loved him. “Granny Faye” was also loved by so many. She had to have been a special woman to have earned the love of this man.

    Thanks, Erika, for sharing this with the world.

  2. Wow, it’s encouraging to read a letter from another man with such depth and truth to him. Thank you for sharing this. It reminds me of the way my husband wrote to me when we first began our relationship. I still have his letters saved, and will treasure them forever.

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