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Through the grapevine

Mail kept feds connected during war

Sally Bourrie, writer and editor with the Farm Credit Administration, wrote the script for the “Letters from the Grapevine” film, which tells the story of World War II through the letters written by FCA servicemembers. (Photo by Sherrell Carr, Farm Credit Administration, Office of the Chief of Public Affairs)

When World War II separated Farm Credit Administration (FCA) employees-turned-soldiers from their colleagues back home, the mail kept them together.

The FCA is an independent federal agency that regulates the financial institutions of the Farm Credit System, which serves the credit needs of the nation’s farmers, ranchers and agricultural cooperatives. Last Veterans Day, the agency released an original film titled “Letters from the Grapevine” to pay tribute to its World War II service members.

The video tells the story of the war through letters FCA service members mailed to their colleagues for publication in an employee newsletter called the Grapevine. Letters were written from all over the world, including the frontlines of historic battles such as Guadalcanal, Iwo Jima and Normandy. Published from 1942-1950, the biweekly publication also featured articles, announcements and updates about events and activities at the agency and on the homefront.

“FCA was and is like a family,” said FCA writer-editor Sally Bourrie, who drafted the script for the film.

Copies of the newsletter were mailed to every employee in the agency, including the approximately 200 men and women serving overseas, as well as those who had been temporarily relocated from Washington, DC, to Kansas City, MO, during the war.

The 22-minute video features excerpts from letters narrated by approximately two dozen current FCA employees who are also military veterans. The film includes footage from the National Archives and Library of Congress.

“The courage and selflessness of these young men and women shine through in their letters,” said FCA Board Chairman Vincent Logan in a news release announcing the video.

According to the release, employees served in every theater of the war. In their letters, some members even made sure to note differences in farming practices they observed between different countries.

While the letters contained their share of color, “please tell the gang that I said hello” was a common refrain, Bourrie said.

Copies of the Grapevine newsletter are available on the Internet Archive, and the FCA video is available on the agency’s YouTube channel.

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