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In a couple of memoirs I have alluded to the terrible anxieties clutching at the hearts of the families of soldiers they knew to be in harm's way. This became especially painful when there was no way to be in contact with one another.

Captors know that their prisoners wish to spare families this pain, and have tried to use this recognition to extract information from their captives in all wars in the last couple of centuries.

After Vietnam, the families of those missing in action became potent tools in the hands of right-wing political groups, holding out, for over a generation, unrealistic hope of MIA survival.

It somehow seems appropriate to append, to this group of narratives, a letter my mother wrote to me as a way of articulating her grief.

Recollections chosen from a Fortunate Life