Fort Meade World War II letters discovered in old barracks

In total, 11 letters from 1943 and 1944 were found in the old barracks.

For decades, the walls of the World Ward II-era barracks at Fort Meade in Maryland held a secret; a glimpse back in time.

Luckily, a group of maintenance workers stumbled upon a treasured glimpse into the past, and it has historians buzzing. While doing repair work on the building, the crew found several letters and cards dating back to the 1970s that were sent to soldiers based at the fort.

In total, the workers found 11 letters inside a wall that had been sent in late 1943 and early 1944 to members of a unit that was preparing to head to the front lines in Europe.

The correspondence, which includes letters and Christmas cards, came from all over - including Alabama, New York and Ohio - to Maryland to wish the soldiers well as they embarked on their mission.

"Sometimes, in the middle of the night, they were told, 'You gotta get your stuff and get on a train,'" historian Barbara Taylor said. "Stuff gets left behind."

Some of the letters are simple Christmas wishes. One tells a soldier about his acquaintances back home getting drafted, and another discusses the time away from the rigors of serving.

"Seems as if you had a whale of a time in Baltimore," one letter reads. "Must be swell to be near a city like that and be able to get all the liquor you want...or is that rationed too?"

Found just days before Memorial Day, Taylor says the letters can serve to remind us of the brave men who ran headlong into danger in the name of freedom.

"This is just one way to do it, to help remember the sacrifice hat generation did make, and the sacrifice the generations that came after are making," Taylor said.

Historians at the Fort Meade Museum are now working to preserve the letters, three of which remain unopened, and track down the soldiers or their families.

They figure that a letter delivered a few decades late is better than never.