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72-Year-Old Love Letter Returned to WWII Veteran

The letter, which had never reached its intended recipient, was found during renovations of a New Jersey home

(Courtesy of Melissa Fahy)
smithsonian.com

In May of 1945, a United Service Organizations volunteer named Virginia Christoffersen penned a love letter to her husband Rolf, who was serving with the allies as a Norwegian Navy sailor. "I love you Rolf, as I love the warm sun,” Virginia wrote. “[T]hat is what you are to my life, the sun about which everything else revolves for me."

These romantic words never made it to Rolf; the postmarked letter was stamped “REFUSED” and returned to Virginia. But more than 70 years after the couple’s communication was thwarted, the letter has reached its intended recipient, as Michael George reports for NBC New York.

(Courtesy of Melissa Fahy)
(Courtesy of Melissa Fahy)

The letter was discovered by a New Jersey family who recently moved into the Christoffersens’ old home. While renovating the house, Melissa Fahy and her father Al Cook found a yellowing envelope in a crack under the attic stairs. The letter seems to have slipped through the gap, where it sat, unnoticed, for decades.

“When I read it, I just couldn’t believe the love and admiration she had for her husband,” Fahy said. “It was really sweet to see that long-distance love. You didn’t have texting, you didn’t have email.”

Amidst her expressions of affection and longing, Virginia provides updates of life at home. As Ivaylo Vezenkov of CNN notes, Virginia was pregnant when she wrote the letter. “I feel wonderful and the doctor says everything is perfectly alright and normal so far,” she tells her husband. She also entreats Rolf, playfully, to “please be a very good boy and stay away from the rum-and-coca-cola!”

Fahy was so moved by the letter that she decided to track the Christoffersens down. She posted about her mission on Facebook, and within two hours, Internet sleuths had identified the couple’s son, also named Rolf. When the younger Christoffersen heard about Fahy’s remarkable find, he immediately called his father to read him the letter. 

Christoffersen, now 96-years-old, lives in California. Virginia died six years ago. "I was so surprised after all these years,” he told Vezenkov. “I was very happy to find out that a letter like that existed. I am still very emotional."

Virginia often wrote to her husband while he was overseas, but her letters were lost when the family moved to California in 1959, Liz Shepard of the Detroit Free Press writes. But thanks to a happy accident, one relic of the couple’s wartime romance was preserved.

Christoffersen's son tells Smithsonian.com that this isn't the only surprise the family has received lately. Recently, the Norwegian Consul visited his father and awarded him the Atlantic Star medal for his participation in the Battle of the Atlantic. "The awarding of the medal was due to someone in Norway who made it their goal to located living Norwegian war sailors and make sure they receive the medals they deserve," he writes in an email to Smithsonian.com. "I find it fascinating that after all these years, both my mom's letter and the medal found its way to my dad within a month."

Virginia.jpg
(Courtesy of Rolf Christoffersen)
About Brigit Katz

Brigit Katz is a journalist based in New York City. Her work has appeared in New York magazine, Flavorwire, and Women in the World, a property of The New York Times.

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