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A father's postwar struggle, set to music

When John K. Meneely Jr. ’37, ’41MD, returned from service as an Army doctor in World War II, his fight wasn't over. As his daughters tell it, Meneely, who had served with the 10th Mountain Division in Italy, was hospitalized for emotional collapse after the war and struggled with psychiatric problems and addictions for 18 years before committing suicide in 1963.

Now two of Meneely's daughters, poet Nancy Meneely ’68MAT and composer Sarah Meneely-Kyder ’73MusAM, are telling their father's tragic story in an oratorio called Letter from Italy, 1944. Drawing on Meneely's letters and diaries and their own memories, the piece will debut Sunday night in a performance by Connecticut's Middletown Chorale. (The event is sold out, but a preview performance has been added tonight.)

"It has brought about a deeper love for my father—and my sister," Nancy Meneely told the New London Day. "The writing was cathartic. I didn't realize it was happening but I was doing a lot more crying, but I was not anguished."

Filed under John K. McNeely, Letter from Italy
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