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Monday, May 30 at 9:30 p.m. – American Experience: War Letters followed by War Letters: Rochester Writes Home

(Rochester, NY) – Bringing to life the deepest, most human side of war, WXXI presents American Experience: War Letters on Monday, May 30 at 9:30 p.m. on WXXI-TV/HD (DT21.1/cable 1011 and 11) followed by WXXI's companion piece to the national program, War Letters: Rochester Writes Home at 10:30 p.m.

War Letters shares collection of personal correspondence from the American Revolution to the Gulf War. Based on Andrew Carroll’s recent New York Times bestseller, War Letters: Extraordinary Correspondence from American Wars, the film transcends the subject of war by exploring the love, passion, pain, horror, and hope of the men and women who fought and those who waited at home.

With no narrator, no star subjects, and a timeline that spans three centuries, War Letters is less a traditional documentary than a tone poem, written in the collective voice of ordinary men and women: soldiers, sweethearts, sons, brothers, fathers, wives, cousins and friends. Read by a cast of celebrity actors (Edward Norton, Esai Morales, Joan Allen, and David Hyde Pierce among them), the letters are illustrated with dramatic archival footage and photographs, evocative recreations, and images of those who wrote and received letters from American battlefronts.

Following the American Experience film, WXXI-TV will present War Letters: Rochester Writes Home, a WXXI-production that shares letters from Rochester soliders. Told entirely through the letters of those who went to war and those who waited, sometimes in vain, for their return, War Letters: Rochester Writes Home gives full meaning to life in a foxhole, to the realities of rationing, to the loss of good friends, and to the joy in greeting a new day. War Letters: Rochester Writes Home has the voices of Rochester’s heroes from Patrick O’Rorke, who died helping to save the Union’s left flank at Gettysburg, to General Elwell Otis in the Spanish American War. It also has the voices of the many unknown soldiers and sailors, their wives, parents, friends, and relatives. The stories are drawn from over one thousand letters sent in by Rochester area residents and available from the Rochester Public Library, the Rochester Historical Society, the Rochester City Historian, and the Rare Books collection at the University of Rochester.

Photo: US artilleryman, World War I; March 7, 1918
Credit: Courtesy of National Archives

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