It has been close to a month since I sent my oldest son, Zachary, his first series of letters and a care package to his new post at Fort Jackson, S.C. His mailing address for the next nine weeks is long but never mind that detail. I will make sure that I write it exactly as it was stated in the telephone call he made to us right before he entered boot camp. His last call was quick, but before hanging up the phone with I love you all, he had one last request: send him a battery operated toothbrush.
I admit it, I am treating my letter writing and addressing of envelopes with a lot more neatness than I used to. It is of utmost importance that he receives all of our messages successfully. A simple mistake in a section of his new address could lead to a letter being returned to its sender and this is something I plan to avoid.
When I think about the whole letter writing process for a loved one in the military, I wonder about a few things. Like, when will the appropriate personnel deliver mail to the soldiers? Is a military mail call implemented? Will Zachary be able to find a bit of free time in his regimented schedule to write to us? The anticipation of his letters arriving to our home has me sprinting to our mailbox each afternoon when I arrive home from work.
When it comes to our soldier receiving mail, I’m certain about a couple things. I’m certain that when he receives it that he’ll tear open the envelope devouring its contents. I’m certain that he will grip each letter tightly in his hardworking hands. I envision him getting comfortable on his bunk, eager to read all about our daily happenings and recent adventures. After all, this is the only connection to family and a glimpse to the world outside of his post that he will have until we meet again.
I look forward to the time in my day when I am able to write him. As I begin each letter, my mind is flooded with thoughts. As my fingers gain a sudden burst of energy, the pen I grip tightly in my hand begins to write I use pieces of white lined paper so my penmanship is more legible. I have on occasion sent a greeting card. I trust that the news I share is able to feed this strong but tired, eager yet focused, and calm, yet determined, soldier of ours.
As I prepare to address each envelope and choose a postage stamp from my collection, I proudly seal each envelope with an American flag. As I slip his letters into our mailbox, I can’t help but wonder about the route my letters will take before they are finally placed in his hands.
I have always admired the way in which he reads. Zachary is someone who immerses himself in the words on the page. He is patient, meticulous and often rereads to gain a better understanding. This strategy will serve him well as he shares his newly-learned skills with the world. His ability to grasp all he can from the printed words on a page will not only be of support to him when performing his duties as a unit supply specialist (92Y) with the Massachusetts National Guard but in his future work as an elementary educator.
The goal of each of my letters is to allow his mind to wander. I trust the words I share enable him to travel home in his memory to the place he was before he set out to become a soldier. I trust that the words I choose to share help to ease some of the struggles he might be experiencing of missing his family and friends. I know how much he will appreciate an update on his faithful pup, Buddy, and that he will be pleased to learn that his parents, grandparents, and brother are well.
Zachary is an individual who enjoys the little things in life so I know how much he will treasure holding a piece of something that was created by a loved one. I know that from the letters we write and from the letters he will write to us, he will develop a deeper appreciation to the meaning and purpose of this traditional form of communication—an important skill my own parents taught me at a young age.
The letters we write to our son—a courageous, determined and responsible aspiring National Guardsman—will share news about our daily experiences but will also contain meaningful words to let him know about the immense admiration we have for him and all the service personnel performing their required duties. Our letters will inform him that we have his back, that we are his biggest fans and that we will proudly share in his commitment to serve in the United States military. While the letters we send him at his current post will eventually cease, the act of writing letters to him will never stop. Wherever Zachary chooses to live, work and begin the next phase of his life’s journey as an educator and proud member of the Massachusetts National Guard, his mailing address will always have a permanent stamp on my heart.Read comments