Send the right message

Published 12:49 pm Friday, November 28, 2008

By Staff
Many people begin their shopping for the Christmas season in earnest today.
Amid all that buying, take some time out to buy several extra stamps to affix to letters and cards to be sent to American military personnel stationed overseas and who will not be home for the Christmas holidays. The letters and cards are what make up the Washington Daily News’ Messages From Home campaign, an effort to bring a taste of home to individual members of the U.S. military serving in places such as Iraq, Afghanistan, South Korea, Germany and other overseas locations, not to mention at bases and air stations in the USA far from their homes.
The Washington Daily News is compiling a list of military personnel stationed outside the United States and their addresses. That list will be published with the hope that area residents will, at the very least, send cards and letters to those members of the American armed forces who will not be able to spend Christmas at their homes this year. Cards and letters from neighbors and strangers expressing gratitude and providing encouragement will be well-received by those members of the Marine Corps, Navy, Army, Air Force, Coast Guard and National Guard serving their nation in distant lands and, in some cases, harsh conditions.
Just think how a sailor on a nuclear submarine under the waters of the Persian Gulf will feel when on Christmas Eve he receives cards and letters from not only family members but people he has never met. As much as he will cherish those cards and letters from his family members, just think how this sailor will feel when he reads a letter from a stranger thanking him for being willing to protect this nation and provide that protection somewhere far from home.
How about that Air Force sergeant serving in Iraq, far away from her home for the first time? She expects cards and letters from her father, mother and brothers, but imagine her surprise when she receives several letters from people she has never met, people who write to tell her they are proud of her service to the country and wish her well during her tour of duty and a safe return to her home in eastern North Carolina. Her Christmas, somewhat darkened by being away from home at Christmas for the first time, becomes brighter because strangers took the time to put a smile on her face by writing a few lines on a card or in a letter.
Don’t forget the Marine Corps’ gunnery sergeant who is on his second deployment to Afghanistan and who has missed as many Christmases at home as Christmases that he has been at home. He knows what it is like to be away from family at Christmas. Knowing what that is like does not make it any easier to be away from home, yet again, at Christmas. He knows his wife and children will send him plenty of things to remind him that he is loved, especially at Christmas. What he does not know is that this Christmas season his mail will include several letters and cards from strangers from eastern North Carolina, strangers wishing him a Merry Christmas, Happy New Year and a safe tour of duty and trip back home. As he will do with those cards and letters from his family, he will read over and over those cards and letters from those strangers who thought enough of his service to thank him and encourage him.
For the price of a few postage stamps, people can provide a touch of home to U.S. military personnel serving overseas this Christmas. Compared to the sacrifices they are making, the price of postage stamps on our part is a small price to pay to help bring Christmas cheer to American men and women protecting freedom in far away lands, under the oceans of the world and in the skies above the Earth.
Messages From Home will send an unwritten message just as important as the written ones being sent overseas.
All those cards and letters send this simple message: We care.