TODAY   |  February 14, 2011

George and Barbara Bush love notes revealed

TODAY contributing correspondent Jenna Bush Hager takes a look back at her grandparents George and Barbara Bush and maternal grandma, Jenna Welch, who all sent love letters when away from their significant other.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> we are back now with a really fitting question on this valentine's day morning. has modern technology meant the death of the love letter ? "today" contributing correspondent jenna bush hagger is here with that interesting question.

>> these days twitter, e-mail and text are the only ways to say i love you. as children my sister and i found boxes of love letters in my grandparents houses. they are so precious to the family. so i decided to turn to the experts to see what my generation is missing.

>> december 12, 1943 . my darling bar, this should be a very easy letter to write.

>> reporter: my grandparents have been writing love letters to each other for more than 60 years.

>> i love you, precious, with all my heart. to know that you love me means my life.

>> reporter: they are precious letters filled with romance, longing and promise. like many of the generation the letters were a part of the courtship and their only connection while separated by war. how important were the letters while you were overseas?

>> those days we didn't have all the internet and telephones. we had telephones but not to talk in the fleet. letters were everything. you waited for mail call . the guy to come on the deck and say, mail, bush! it was wonderful.

>> reporter: though my grandma wrote often her letters were lost at sea . on september 2 , 1944 , my grandfather's plane was shot down. he was saved but the letters were not.

>> when he was shot down, i got a letter all was well.

>> what was wrong with that?

>> well, i got a letter saying you were well, but you had written it before you were shot down.

>> reporter: 66 years after they were married, mail call is more like a text message beep. or an e-mail alert. an i lo yve you looks like this. has modern technology killed romance? love letters were around long br my grandparents got romantic notions. beethoven wrote beautiful music and love letters to his im mmortal beloved. churchill penned racy letters to his wife. my fwrand ma jenna welsh also wrote to her husband at war. there was a letter he saved we found 13 years after he died.

>> hello, pretty little gal, i'd certainly like to be with you now. the orange reflection against the sky and the rain coming down makes me feel like if i was with you nothing else would matter.

>> reporter: my grandfather shipped off for war three weeks after they married.

>> it is terrible to love someone like i love you and can't be with you.

>> reporter: do you like re-reading the letters?

>> yeah.

>> reporter: she would live for his letters and she would live for her picture.

>> can you believe he took a picture like that?

>> well, it's not bad.

>> reporter: no, it's beautiful. but in the bathtub! sexy photo. these letters are an archive of love and a remainder of a time when simple gestures brought and kept a couple together.

>> good night, my beautiful. every time i say "beautiful" you about kill me but you'll have to accept it.

>> reporter: why would she kill you when you called her beautiful?

>> she's modest.

>> reporter: you were beautiful. we have your engagement picture.

>> not bad now.

>> if you like wrinkles. lucky now.

>> wrinkledstiltskin.

>> reporter: love letters were a part of my grandparents' lives, a beautiful part of their personal history . without the letters there wouldn't be moments like these.

>> january 6, 1994 , for barbara pierce from g.h.w.b., will you marry me? oh, i forgot. you did that 49 years ago. i'm even happier today. you have given me joy few men know. i have climbed perhaps the highest mountain in the world . that can't hold a candle to being barbara's husband. mom used to tell me, now, george, don't walk ahead.

>> you never listened to your mother.

>> little did i know i was only trying to keep up with bar. barbara pierce from onondaga street in new york. i love you.

>> oh, i love you, too.

>> why are we such cryers?

>> you could be speaker of the house .

>> i know.

>> reporter: on their 66th valentine's day together a simple celebration.

>> i'm going to ask her if she will be my valentine. i do that every four, five years. she's agreed she will be.

>> reporter: will you write her a letter?

>> i don't think i will this year.

>> i'll be with him.

>> reporter: there's no need to write.

>> if i wrote a letter today, i would write the same letter. i love him that much.

>> my advice on this valentine's day, write a love letter or at least save your e-mails.

>> get some tissues! jenna, that's such a great reminder of the power of the written word. hats off to your grandparents for letting you share those letters because they are so personal.

>> exactly. my grandfather said he loves to write e-mails but said it doesn't have the same romantic, therapeutic feel as sitting down with a pen and paper .

>> your grandfather is one of the great letter writers. i remember your dad reading some of the letters he wrote to him.

>> let's all write some love letters .

>> happy valentine's day.