Letters From Japan

Monique Lafayette Profile Picture
Monique Lafayette

Every now and then, a project comes along whose value will not be measured in repeat projects over the longterm, mass marketing or quantity of product. There are those projects whose value is in the truly human and moving personal stories of our clients and one-off jobs.
Just in time for Veterans Day, We had the honor of working on a personal project for a special client. A gentleman approached us with a box full of photographs and typed letters that had been roughly transcribed from original handwritten letters. The letters were written by a young American soldier stationed in Japan. The recipient was his mother. 
The soldier named Jack was only 18 years old when he boarded the USS George Clymer in the South Pacific, to prepare to invade the Japanese mainland in August 1945. After the atomic bombs were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki the plans changed and Jack’s regiment then became a part of the troops involved in the formal surrender of Japanese troops in the Philippines and then onward to Japan as part of the Allied occupation force. 
Part of my work at Seeds CS is as a transcriptionist. As I transcribed Jack’s letters into digital format, I was touched by the sentiments in his letters. As a mother of a young teen boy, I was moved by the growth and openness of Jack’s story as he describes his experiences with the culture and people of Japan, and also his life with his fellow soldiers and the officers. His transformation from a young man taking his first steps into a foreign world against the backdrop of the heartbreak of the war and the bombings was profound. His growth as a person in embracing and showing respect for the people caught up in their nations’ war was very human and heartwarming. 
John Inman and I worked together in producing the layout of the book, and in selecting images from the photographs Jack presented us with. This project involved touching up old photos but not so much that they lost the meaningful wear of their journey. The cover turned out wonderfully, front and center with an image of Jack in Japan with two of the people he met while living there. The Title, “Letters from Japan, A Soldier Writes Home 1945-1946”  is centered in the heart of a Japanese flag. The back cover is a composite of the original handwritten letters to his mother, along with a couple of stock images for the background. 
The project came together beautifully in its final hardcover edition which we received a copy near Veterans Day. It was an exciting project to turn a box of old letters and faded photos into a crisp, new, hardcover, printed memoir. This project is for personal use and not a book that will be for sale. The copies of this memory book will be given to Jack’s family and friends. We felt honored to be chosen to help preserve the memories and correspondences of this US Veteran. We were also able to give back and say thanks to Jack by doing this project at our Veterans discount. What a truly wonderful thing it is to preserve the meaningful moments of life experience in photography and print. 

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