It’s been eighteen years since the comedic legend Bob Hope passed away at the age of 100 back in 2003, but his legacy lives on to this day. While many know him for his acting appearances, fans may not be aware of how much Hope cared about American veterans.

That’s why Martha Bolton, a family friend who once wrote jokes for Hope, as well as his daughter Linda Hope, teamed up to write “Dear Bob: Bob Hope’s Wartime Correspondence with the G.I.s of World War II.” This book chronicles personal letters, postcards, packages and more sent back and forth between Hope and the troops.

“I found it very moving to re-read these letters again,” Linda explained to Fox News. “… I was reminded of the scope of dad’s involvement with the men and women he entertained, here at home and abroad.  It reinforced the reality of how those relationships really affected his entire life.”

Bolton also talked about putting this book together, saying that it was something she discussed with Hope when he was still alive.

“I remembered I talked to Bob and asked if he ever considered putting these letters together for a book because they were so incredible,” she said. “He agreed. But he also said that they were so close to his heart that he didn’t know if he could get through them again. So he suggested that Linda and I work on it. And we did. ”

“And it was quite the project,” Bolton added. “At the height of World War II, Bob was receiving 38,000 fan letters a week. So there was a mountain of material. And he kept them all in these banker boxes… And unfortunately, Bob passed away. But we never gave up on the idea of working on this manuscript. We knew one day we would finish it… So we poured ourselves into this project and the process of selecting which letters to include in the book. But I’m very pleased with the results. I think, especially right now, we’re all looking for hope. And these letters give the same feeling that Bob gave all his life. That we will get through anything together.”

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Bolton also talked about the moment Hope first realized that he wanted to give back to the troops.

“His first military show was in 1941 and America wasn’t in the war yet. His radio producer suggested that he put on a show for the troops,” she said. “Bob didn’t quite understand what he would be doing because we weren’t in the war yet. And he didn’t know how he could fit in. But when he walked on that stage and did his routine, the response was just overwhelming. The laughter, the tears, it was like this loud thunder. And he just fell in love with that audience. And it became his audience.”

“When he started getting letters from the G.I.’s, he truly understood the sacrifices they were making. And these weren’t regular fan letters,” Bolton added. “They were writing to their brother, their buddy. And you could see the bond that was being developed. And then he started receiving letters from loved ones who described how a soldier saw his show and was then killed the next day. So many were lost. And that had a tremendous impact on Bob. That feeling, that love and respect, never left him.”

Bolton was then asked how we can all honor Hope’s legacy by giving back to the troops today.

“Gratitude goes an awful long way,” she said. “And I think that resonated with Bob all his life. It’s important that we notice their sacrifice. Bob saw it and he delivered his thanks to the masses. I think the driving message of this book is don’t take life for granted.”

“In life, there may be times where we feel like we’re sacrificing something,” Bolton added. “We could be stuck in traffic or the air conditioner went out on a really hot day. That’s nothing compared to what these men and women gave up and continue to do so. Bob once said, “I saw your son and your husband, your brother and your sweetheart. I saw how they worked, played, fought and live. I saw some of them die. I saw more courage, more good humor in the face of discomfort, more love… and more devotion to duty… All he wanted to do was give these men and women hope.”

This piece originally appeared in and is used by permission.

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