World War II claimed the lives of millions of service members, but for a number of families the losses were exponentially unfathomable. Mr. and Mrs. J. E. Rogers were two such parents, losing three sons — each assigned to the USS New Orleans — in a 1942 battle near Guadalcanal.

To express his sorrow for their loss, then-President Franklin Delano Roosevelt personally sent a letter to the Rogers family. Now, that memento is up for auction at $18,500.

“There is little that I can say to lessen the burden of your grief…our country which owes to you and them a debt of undying gratitude. As Commander in Chief, I express to you a nation’s sympathy,” the type-signed letter reads.

The letter has been likened by author William Springer to President Abraham Lincoln’s correspondence with widow Lydia Bixby, whose five sons died in the Civil War, according to the Raab Collection auction company.

“Jack Ellis Rogers Jr., Charles Ethbert Rogers, and Edward Keith Rogers were killed in action aboard the USS New Orleans during the Battle of Tassafaronga off Guadalcanal in the Solomon Islands on November 30, 1942,” the listing notes. “The news reached President Roosevelt soon after, and he determined to put aside his duties of the day to reach out to the Rogers family to express his personal condolences, as Lincoln had to Mrs. Bixby.”

Despite the listing, the Rogers family says they would like to see the letter returned, according to CBS Birmingham.

A surviving nephew of the three brothers, Keith Rogers, noted that the family was unaware of how the letter came up for auction.

“We had no idea knowing that this letter, that was originally in possession of a family member, had been lost out of the possession of the family,” Rogers told CBS.

The Raab Collection calls itself a “recognized name in important historical autographs and documents.” The company currently hosts items that range from documentation belonging to the Founding Fathers to contemporary artifacts.

A statement from the Raab collection to CBS says the letter came from a private collector before being put up for auction.

Sarah Sicard is a Senior Editor with Military Times. She previously served as the Digitial Editor of Military Times and the Army Times Editor. Other work can be found at National Defense Magazine, Task & Purpose, and Defense News.

In Other News
Load More