Recently my grandfather was honored for being one of the oldest living veterans to serve our country at Iwo Jima. As part of the ceremony they simulated “mail call”, an important part of life for our service men and women far away from home. As part of this ceremony, the veterans’ families were asked to write letters to them as if they were still in the service. The following is what I wrote my grandfather:
As spring comes to a close and summer is upon us I find myself thinking about your plentiful vegetable garden. As a child I looked forward to tending that garden with you and picking vegetables so Grandma could make fresh tomato sauce. The image of the counter top covered with home grown tomatoes, zucchini and salad is forever etched in my mind. Walks in the yard and exploring all of the nooks and crannies of nature was a regular Sunday occasion. It made me feel safe, loved and most of all helped me to appreciate the importance of family.
While writing this letter, knowing you are worlds away, I want you to know how thankful I am that you are one of the brave men who protect me and our country. Your bravery and willingness to sacrifice your life exemplifies the type of man you are. You are the foundation of our family and I pray for you.
I am sure you are missing your family but I can’t imagine it is more than we miss you. You are on my mind and in my heart as day to day life continues on in your absence.
As I work hard to raise my children, I will forever remind them that their freedom is because of men like you. Teach them that this great country they live in where they have the opportunity to be whomever they want to be in this life rests on the backs of men like you. Thank you for being a symbol of strength, sacrifice and bravery. Thank you!
With emails, text messages, and all the other technological means of communication, I couldn’t remember the last time I had written an old fashioned letter. However, writing the letter made me think about the feeling one gets when receiving a heart-felt card in the mail (yes, snail mail). Why don’t we do this more often? And if it feels good for us, in the comfort of our own homes, to receive a letter, how must it feel for those serving our country overseas?
After writing that letter I realized what a great exercise this would be for families. As parents we are constantly looking for ways to teach our children to give back. With hectic lives, after school activities, giving to others often takes a back seat. This activity is something you can do at home together and make it fun. You can decorate the cards with your children, and give them a voice by asking what they would like to say to the men and women who fight for our country. There are also many charitable organizations that collect letters and cards to send to our military. As a family you could give back to the brave men and women by sending them your (and your children’s) words of encouragement, strength and help to create a connection to their homeland. How long has it been since you have written an old fashion letter?