My 70-year-old dad used to tell his grandchildren a story, about a 4-year-old girl who on a Memorial Day Parade, asked her daddy a question: “Daddy! You said a hero is someone who defends his home.” “That’s right, kiddo.” “Then Uncle Pete’s home must be weally weally big!” said the little girl, about her uncle; a U.S Infantryman, who was then out there fighting WWII. That little girl was me. Every Memorial Day, Uncle Pete would gather us around, he would take out a beautifully carved box, in which he carefully kept hundreds of letters he’d received from strangers all over the country, and he would read to us. Over the years, I learned a lot about what people write in these letters, and I would like to share a thing or two, along with a sample letter for you to help you write your own.
Tell Them How Their Sacrifice Changed Your Life Personally
Everyone loves a hero because that hero had an impact on his or her life. Share your story; how you were inspired to live by hearing about the great sacrifices made by the U.S. military men and women that keep us safe and free.
Brighten Their Day by Sharing Yours
Tell them a little about yourself. Share something interesting or cool you did recently, your favorite sport or topic of interest, or simply describe your day and good thoughts. Write from the heart. Be sure to steer clear of politics and religion; you don’t want any trouble for them. As for humor, it can bring some cheer, but can get tricky sometimes, and care needs to be taken when writing to someone you don’t know; you don’t know what might offend them. Saying something that would bring a smile; something you’d say to your own, helps take that soldier’s mind off of the horrors she endures, even if for a brief moment.
Here’s a sample thank you letter to soldiers on Memorial Day.
May 1, 2017
My name is Joe and I’m a freshman at college, and this is my first letter as a Forces pen pal, just a regular guy writing to a hero (grins).
I have no words to express how grateful my family and I are for what you do for us, wearing your heart on your sleeve, and leaving your loved ones, and the life of comfort we so enjoy because you don’t. We are the Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave, because of the selfless courage, and priceless sacrifice of men and women like you, who chose to go in harm’s way so that none comes to us. Thank you for your service!
I am writing this letter today as I sit on the grass, staring at an empty stadium, awaiting with anticipation as the crowds start filling up the bleachers. I came here early so that I can borrow from your courage. It’s my first game as offensive guard for the Texas Longhorns. We’re playing against West Virginia next month, and I’m terrified. What’s your favorite sport?
Along with this letter, I’m sending a few self-addressed and stamped envelopes, and I know it would be asking too much, but it would mean a lot to me and my family to receive a reply from you, especially to my sister Ellen, who soon joins the military as a new recruit.
Meanwhile, know that you are in our daily prayers. Stay upbeat! Stay safe!
586 Grant Street,
Dallas, TX 75207
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