Correspondence from the Front: The Changing Ways American Soldiers Write Home
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"As they say, 'loose lips sink ships,' and many military officials would like to see a clearer Pentagon policy on monitoring and censorship of communication."
Throughout the history
of military conflict, officials in the U.S. armed forces have deemed
it necessary to monitor and censor correspondence from soldiers at
war. This practice began during the Civil War, mainly when mail had
to cross enemy lines, but it wasn’t heavily used until World
Usually officers were the individuals responsible for doing the censoring, but it became an unpopular job and was sometimes left to the chaplain or dentist in a unit.
If only sections of a letter need to be censored, they would be cut or blacked out with ink. Often however, entire letters were confiscated and not returned to the soldier. If the military used special chemicals to check for invisible writing, something that was done when a spy was suspected, the letter would be destroyed so that the practice did not become common knowledge.
that censorship influenced the quality of letters written. In general,
in the Revolutionary War and the Civil War letters
had much more information, especially describing location. Letters
written during the Korean War and the Vietnam War, once censorship
was less stringent, also contained much more colorful descriptions of
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