First of all – a Happy New Year, dear and many many more! Considering the fact that it’s 1030 now and I’ve been up for three hours you might think I had a good night’s sleep. You’re wrong, I didn’t. It went something like this: at about 1500 everyone was inviting everyone else to have a drink – so that by chow time – we were all feeling pretty high. Earlier than that – I had been invited to dinner at noon at the home of a patient. I didn’t want to come but the husband and wife insisted. Well we got to talking about New Year’s Eve and how we celebrate it in the States; over here everyone visits everyone else and they told me that there’d be several of the village’s people in to visit the Colonel. I told them – in my best French – that we were going to have somewhat of a private brawl. To become tight over here – if I haven’t already told you, dear – is “faire le Zig-Zag” or “devenir Zig-Zag”. Anyway, they said peole would come in anyway. And they did!
After supper – I went back to the Dispensary and opened a bottle of J. Jameson Irish Whiskey I’d been saving for my own boys – and we stayed around until the bottle was finished. I then went over to Hq. where the officers were working on a “punch” – and that’s putting it mildly. It turned out to be a cross between my own “Purple Jesus” – and a hitherto unknown to me concoction called a “Dead Duck”. The result was explosive and at 2200 we were flying, singing, dancing around. And into this mélee suddenly came eight or ten women, a few with their daughters – young (about 20 or 21) and a couple of fathers. I don’t know what they could have thought of the Americans, but we quickly realized the only way out was to offer them a drink. They had never had anything like this before and soon a few of the women were a bit tipsy. They stayed until midnight and we all sang Auld Lang Syne – and I was back home with you, sweetheart, way, way back. Won’t it be something, dear, when we actually celebrate a Holiday together?
Well – we headed back for the C.P. where we sleep – it was now about 0030. On the way down the Colonel suggested a game of Bridge. That was a surprise because he certainly looked as if he were ready for bed. But we played Bridge, drank some Benedictine and got to bed at 0400! So you see, sweetheart, we did our best to celebrate comme les Americains.
I could have slept later – but I thought it better to get up and take care of things here. Aside from the fact that one eye keeps shutting and I look as if I were in third degree shock, I feel fine, dear. I’ll probably be able to get a nap this p.m. I’ve had so much rest though – that a little lack of sleep won’t harm.
S0 there you have New Year’s Eve 1944. What will ’45 be like? Let’s hope and pray we’ll see the next New Year in – together, darling. Right now that’s all we can do is hope. Most important of all is the fact that we love each other and will go on loving each other. We’ll have our celebrations together one day and then it will be for always, sweetheart.
For now, so long, and my love to the folks.
Helping us pick the Man of the Year for our first January cover has become quite a tradition with subscribers—so you might be interested to learn that the whole thing began because the first week of 1928 was so dull.
No one had done anything newsworthy enough to put his picture on TIME's cover, so somebody suggested we stop looking for a Man of the Week and pick a Man of the Year. This was an easy choice: Charles Augustus Lindbergh, who had soloed the Atlantic in only 33 hours and 39 minutes, was the hero of 1927.
The Man of the Year idea caught on with a bang and, somewhat surprised, we decided to make it an annual event. The choice is in no way an accolade, nor a Nobel Prize for doing good. Nor is it a moral judgment. (Al Capone was runner-up in riotous, bootleg 1928.) The two criteria are always these: who had the biggest rise in fame; and who did the most to change the news for better (like Stalin in 1942) or for worse (like Stalin in 1939, when his flop to Hitler's side unleashed this worldwide war).
Fifteen different men have been chosen in 18 years—with one man picked three times and one man twice.
For 1928 we passed up Herbert Hoover, just elected President, because that year was the businessman's year and Walter P. Chrysler was his symbol. When Business crashed in 1929 we passed by Hoover again, skipped over Explorer Byrd and Peace-Pacter Kellogg in favor of Owen D. Young, back from Paris with his plan for settling Europe's troubles under his arm.
We turned down Bobby Jones, Joseph Stalin and Adolf Hitler (who had just mobilized an unexpected 6,401,210 Nazi votes in Germany) to make Mohandas K. Gandhi Man of 1930. He was in jail when his selection was announced in TIME—for launching civil disobedience to get the British out of India. Next year was "a lean year for everybody," as old Ramsay MacDonald put it: Man of 1931 was Pierre Laval, picked for having steered France prosperously through 12 months which had meant breadlines in almost every other land (Laval hasn't had a good year since).
Franklin Roosevelt was picked in 1932—for winning a landslide election on a program of government economy. He was Man of the Year again in 1934, but not for economy. (That year Mussolini, Harry Hopkins and Huey Long also rated high in reader nominations.) In 1933 came NRA dministrator Hugh Johnson — then flying high with the Blue Eagle.
Man of 1935 surprised some. We picked him because that year he had "carried his country into brilliant focus before a pop-eyed world." He was Haile Selassie, Emperor of Ethiopia, Power of Trinity I, King of Kings, Elect of God, Light of the World, Conquering Lion of Judah. Man of 1936 was a woman—Wallis Warfield Simpson—and 1937's choice was a couple: Generalissimo and Mme. Chiang Kaishek.
No one but Hitler could be Man of 1938, but despite Hitler's victories Winston Churchill proved himself Man of 1940. Franklin Roosevelt was chosen for the third time in 1941, after Pearl Harbor made him America's sixth wartime president. And maybe you'll remember that General George C. Marshall held the place last year, as the man who, more than anyone else, could be said to have "armed the Republic."