Thursday, September 13, 2007
First, for those not in the know, a solid definition of the term from Wikipedia:
The term "Dear John letter" refers to a letter written by a woman to her husband or boyfriend to inform him that their relationship is over, usually due to the woman finding another man.While the exact origins of the phrase are unknown, it is commonly believed to have been invented by Americans during World War II. Large numbers of American troops were stationed overseas for many months or years, and as time passed many of their wives or girlfriends decided to begin a relationship with a new man rather than wait for their old one to return. As letters to servicemen from wives or girlfriends back home would typically contain affectionate language, a serviceman receiving a note beginning with a curt "Dear John" (as opposed to the expected "Dear Johnny", "My dearest John", or simply "Darling", for example) would instantly be aware of the letter's purpose.
One of the great "Dear John letter" stories concerns a young soldier in... well, I'll just let the video tell it...
Sad to say, it's not true. Here it is as portrayed in "M*A*S*H: The Preachy, Sucky Years."
That's from Snopes, the urban legend reference page of choice. Click here to see a version of the story being used back in 1881.