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"Love and Kisses to whole dam Family!" - July 31, 1917
On July 31st, 1917, Gold Star soldier Lyon Frank Leou penned an endearing letter to his family back home. A native of Austin, Minnesota, Lyon and his family had relocated to Saskatchewan, Canada when he was young. He made his living as a farmer, but in 1916 he made the decision to enlist in the British Expeditionary Forces as a private in the 49th Canadians Division. After surviving the Battle of the Somme, Lyon was killed instantly by a shell explosion on October 30th, 1917. His family described him as a chipper, brave, and generous family man, who seemed more concerned about his nieces and nephews back home than his own safety in war. Indeed, his July 31st letter to his family is speckled with lighthearted jokes and handwritten ‘ha-ha’s, and he closes by sending “Love and kisses to the whole dam family!”
[...] July 31, 1917
I re'cd your letter a short time ago and also the cake and thanks many times, mabey [sic] I didn't hop to it ha ha. I got the cake 29th of July. Just one month to get it, and you say dad is sending me some tobacco, gee I sure will be glad to get a good old smoke, ha ha. [...] say have you heard any more about Swede, gee I hope it is not the truth about him being killed. well they never will get me because I can fall into a shell hole too quick for them. ha ha. You aught to see the holes they make, the ground is ust churned over and over lots of times. some sites to see. [...] Well dear mother I will have to quit now and get busy so will say by by. Love and kisses to the whole dam family. ha ha.
I am as ever your son.
Always jolly and the life of whatever or wherever he happened to be. Was a brave soldier laddie who never complained and was only anxious to be first in the fray. Happy and considerate of others. Thoughtful of home people. While he was abroad one of his worries seemed to be of his two nieces and one nephew. They have three and a half miles to go to school. He would write, ‘please don’t let the children walk to school or go on cold days.’ In his own words, ‘I know what it is like to walk and be cold.’ We are proud of him. But at what a price.”
Citation: "Lyon, Leou F." Minnesota Public Safety Commission. Gold Star Roll. Minnesota Historical Society, St. Paul, Minnesota [114.D.4.4F]