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To soldiers I've never met

Bringing a spiritual perspective to daily life

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A couple of days before the fighting began, I heard a young soldier on the radio. He was stationed in Kuwait and said that he and his cohorts didn't feel much support from home in the US. They were aware of all the antiwar protests, and no high-ranking official had visited to give them a pep talk. He was concerned that he was going out to risk his life, and nobody really cared.

As the mom of an 18-year-old daughter (albeit one safely tucked away at college), I had a heart for this young guy's concern. Regardless of whether this war is a good idea, it hurt to think of these soldiers feeling left alone when they were preparing to risk it all. I thought of that interview several times during the next few days, and wished for a way to help.

Then, in our local paper I read an article about a grandmotherly woman who had found a way. She'd gathered a list of local men and women in the armed services. She was organizing a morning of letterwriting. The article encouraged us to bake cookies, contribute toiletries and other items in short supply in the desert, and come to write letters on Saturday. A veteran heard of the plan and arranged the use of the VFW hall. A printer would supply the stationery.

On Saturday I joined the cars turning into the muddy parking lot of the veterans' hall. The cookies I baked were greeted with delight and whisked away to the cookie table, surrounded by women packaging them. The room was filling with cartons of donations for care packages. There was a money jar to contribute for postage. And there were three long tables with paper, pens, envelopes, and address lists of the fifty or so local folks in the military. It was all cheerful and buzzing.

People came and went, writing letters to someone they knew - or didn't. The organizer looked amazed at the love that kept coming through the door. She stood in the middle, greeting and thanking everyone who came and waving to head us in the right direction.

Sitting down to write at a table with three veterans, a mother and daughter, and a high school boy, I faced the hard part. What would I say to soldiers I'd never met? What would help? What would I want to hear if I were there?


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