When I signed up with Soldiers' Angels, I guess I never had a clue as to how rewarding an experience it could be for me, or for anyone. Sure I knew it would be a morale boost for the soldier who would be selected as the one to whom I would write and send care packages, well I hoped it would be a boost and sort of took for granted that it would be anyhow. As it turned out, I was assigned to a soldier. That really is sort of the way it was, I was assigned to a soldier to be his email buddy, to send care packages, to keep his spirits high, to try to let him know that there really are people who care about our troops, to... well you get the idea. What they don't tell you at Soldier's Angels is that not only do you get assigned to a soldier, you become attached to him or her. No I was not the best at keeping in touch. As per the Soldiers' Angels policy I think I was supposed to write once a week, and send letters at that. I never wrote a letter, except to include in a Christmas/Holiday Care Package, and I think I forgot to put it in the box. All I wrote were emails, and luckily my soldier had frequent access to a computer. Of course I sent a few care packages over to him and his unit too. His emails to me were not all that frequent either, understandable on his part since he was the one in the middle of a war in Afghanistan. So sometimes the arrival of his email would remind me, heck I have not written in way too long.
Our emails to one another were never very heart wrenching, were friendly but never too affectionate (heck they were emails from two married men who were writing to one another as pen pals, and I think that was strange turf for both of us to tread), they had a certain friendliness about them while still seeming as if we were somewhat aloof from one another. Despite that feeling of apartness, that separation between us, there was also a feeling of respect for one another between us, of a sort of kinship, a certain type of brotherhood, a friendship that developed. No they don't tell you that you become attached to the Soldier to whom you are assigned, I guess much how they probably never told him he would become attached and greatly affected by his time spent in a war far from home.
It is evident in his latest email to me that both those things happened. He has been affected by the war, both good and bad, to a greater extent than he usually lets on in his emails, and I could see that in his latest email, the one in which he told me he is coming home to the USA later this month. I guess when you spend a year of more anywhere you are affected by your experiences, but to spend it in a far away land where things are strikingly different than they are at home, and to be there in time of war, while others at home forget you, even show disdain for you has got to be something you cannot understand unless you have lived it.
Still though Bob S. only tries to let his good outlook on life come through in his emails to me. I had to sort of read between the lines to see that war has effected/affected him in a way he does not want to say. I respect him for that, he will wind up going on with life fine because he has a good outlook about things. Here is the closing paragraph of his two paragraph email to me, in it you will see that good outlook shining through:
"There has been many good experiences that I will look back on over the next years ahead. I am sure as holidays or certain days come around think back to what I was doing on that day a year ago. Certain days of the week we had certain things that had to be accomplished. The support of many fine people like yourself has really helped make the time go quick. The many emails and just the hey hang in there will write more later emails that helped get your mind away from the frustration of being away from home, safety and security. The many people who would write to us to say, Thanks, really does go along way. The extra stuff they would send in the care boxes really was a huge Morale boost to many soldiers. The many different things we have received from supporters out there has been tremendous to know there are people who care. We, as soldiers, are here irregardless of there political views. We, as soldiers, are here because we decided to be a big dog and get off the porch and go run where others only talk about going and believe what they see on TV or hear on the radio. We all may not believe or agree with the leadership running this country, but we all do believe in giving others the freedoms Americans and illegal immigrants take for granted. Give the boy a chance to walk and eventually you will see a man run.
THANK YOU for all the support and friendship. Hope our "email pal" friendship will be able to continue."
As Bob S. has sent his thanks to me, I wanted to say thank you to him too. I will do that in an email to him because he, and others like him in our military, are the ones who deserve the thanks. I also wanted to thank all of you, those of you that is who show support for our military, and for their mission. Your helpful donation and well wishes that went into those holiday care packages I put together for Bob and his unit were a good thing, a kind thing, the right thing. You should all not only be proud of guys like Bob and all the other troops who defend our freedoms and those of others, you should be proud of yourselves for helping to give them the boost they needed to make their days go by a little bit easier.
If you are a person who has not supported the troops, well just read this sentence again, and think about if you are one of those about whom Bob writes who takes freedom for granted:
"We all may not believe or agree with the leadership running this country, but we all do believe in giving others the freedoms Americans and illegal immigrants take for granted. "
Are you a person who takes those freedoms for granted. I guess I am sometimes guilty of that myself, but there are just too many reminders out there each day to allow that to happen for too long, so most of the time I value my freedoms and liberties dearly. I also dearly value folks like Bob S because without the likes of him, we would have no freedoms, no rights, and no liberty to enjoy them. Many of you understand that, and you not only understand it but also practice what you believe and have supported our troops. To you, especially those who helped me out with those care packages that went to Bob and his unit, I say thank you very much, you are good Americans. To Bob, those in his unit, and to all of our troops in harm's way, I say: Thank you brothers and sisters, you are Great Americans. Stay safe, come home soon, you will not be forgotten.
All the best,