color: SOME SOLDIER'S MOM: What to Write

Friday, February 04, 2005

What to Write

When I tell people that I write my son a letter every day, most people tell me how nice that is... However, some people actually ask, "What could you possibly write about every day?" Well, to be truthful, I sometimes only write a brief note inside a funny or sentimental card, but that counts, too. So far, since he has been deployed just 2 weeks, I have only written 6 letters -- although they contain 14 days worth of news and chit chat. Because it takes a fair amount of time to sort out the postal situation as new troops arrive and other troops are redeployed, families were asked not to send mail for the first few weeks. Judging by the website for the families in my son's division, that won't help the situation much because I think everyone has mailed a month's worth of letters and packages in the last 2 days!
While this is early in this deployment, I have a track record in writing when we and one or more of our children are otherwise incommunicado: we wrote to our sons every day when each of them was in boot camp or basic training. Now, in addition to speaking to our children regularly, we also email personal messages at least once a week as well as forward articles or information we know will interest them.
Back to letters. My husband served two tours in Vietnam and some of the most moving stories he tells of those years involve mail he received -- not just from family but from complete strangers -- someone from his hometown, his church, one of his mother's or father's associates. Without exception, he and all the soldiers were awash with happiness whenever they received mail. He said the experience never got old and sometimes was the only thing that would bring them out of terrible funks. Each of our children has thanked us for the mail we send.
So over the years I have discovered that Moms (and Dads) have wonderful reservoirs and reserves of things to prattle on about. I have written and will continue to write about the weather, how the dogs are, the cats. We recently moved to a new region of the country and into a new home, so there is plenty to write about. I have also written and will write about people and things he's interested in. Rowing (crew), baseball, cars & trucks... um, and girls. Music. Movies. Television. Weird news.
I get to tell stories about when his aunts and uncles and I were kids... stories about all his grandparents -- both when we were growing up and stories we have heard about them when they were young. It's probably an unprecedented opportunity to pass down family history. Even new wives have the singular opportunity to tell their new (or young) husbands their hopes and dreams and friends, foibles and follies while growing up... and their visions of growing old together.
As for my son, I will remind him of funny things that either he or his brothers/sister or all of them did or mischief created. I can write about vacations we took. We have had 19 (and counting) really terrific years together and I want to remind him of all the wonderful, happy times we shared as a family, and the times he shared with his friends.
I will ask questions -- millions of questions. How's the weather? What's the weirdest thing you've seen so far? The most spectacular? How are the people? How are my other "sons" (the members of his unit that we have adopted)? What do you need? What should we send? Are you getting our mail? What can you tell us about your work?
I will send him news articles. College catalogs for schools in which he has expressed interest. Brochures for cars and trucks and electronics he wants to buy when he gets home. All things that scream "future" so that he has something to aspire to -- something to come home for.
I will share how I'm feeling, my commentary on the news, politics, the weather. I will carry on conversations with him as if he were here. I will try desperately to always sound cheerful and encouraging. It's still my obligation to be sure that he has nothing to worry about except his principle mission: staying alive. His Dad will write. His brothers will write. Aunts, uncles, cousins and many, many friends. Total strangers will write him, too. It all represents HOME -- a place to return.
Above all else, I will write how much I love him. How very proud of him I am. I will write of the past and the present, but all the while reminding him of his bright, shining future.


At 2/04/2005 8:15 PM , Blogger BARBARA BLACKMON said...



At 2/04/2005 10:02 PM , Blogger Travis said...


I came across your site per random chance, from a military blog link that I was reading. And as I read your posts, I could not help but feel the depth of your emotion as you described your son's deployment to Iraq, and it has affected me deeply.

I must confess that I have doubts about our involvement in Iraq, but I don't say this as a political partisan. I would mainly like to convey my deepest respect for you, your family and especially your son, and wish his speedy return. I sometimes question the idea of religious faith; but I will pray to God, chance, fate or whatever divine entity there is to make sure that your son returns safely to you.

At 2/06/2005 11:05 AM , Blogger Bon said...

Hiya Soldier's Mom :) Another Soldier Mom here. Just discovered your blog via another milblog I read. What to Write made me smile. I too wrote every day when my son was in basic, while he was in Germany we didn't write so much as talk on the phone. Deployment to Iraq was different, back to writing every day and mailing once a week. Dreams for the future, that is what my son held on to and what I most promoted while he was deployed. A special Ford Bronco, buying land in Colorado, college cataloges and course work...

Glad to see you here, I'm sure I'll be a 'regular".

At 2/06/2005 1:11 PM , Blogger Beautiful Belgian Babe said...

What a beautiful essay. It's clear you love your son very much and watching him go off to war is a big sacrifice on your part. I just want to express my heartfelt appreciation for his commitment and yours as well. What he's doing is so important for our safety, and our children's future. Thank you, thank you. Please pass on my thanks to him as well. I hope he will start his own blog, so I can read about what's really going on in Iraq. In the mean time, I will certainly check in with you regularly.

At 2/06/2005 8:12 PM , Blogger Papa Ray said...


A special hello, because you remind me so much of my own Mother. I went off to war back in 68, just turned nineteen and had never been more than 400 miles from home or my parents. I did ok while training in the states but once I landed in that far away country, I felt so alone. Surrounded by my buddies and new places, new things and having to worry about staying alive, I was still very alone and homesick.

My Mother wrote almost every day. The things you talked about writing, she wrote, the attitude that you talk about, she tried to maintain. My family was small, I was an only child and most of my family had passed on. Her letters were the only thing tying me to sanity. When we didn't get mail, it was hard on all of us.

I was wounded in late 69 and sent to Japan for recovery and later to W. Reed. My parents couldn't afford the trip to come see me, but the letters continued to come. When I finally made it home it was so sweet and so conforting to hold my Mom so tight against me.

It was about two months later, one day she said she felt really ill, I had noticed she didn't look like I remembered her but you know how time and things affect memories. But I never suspected she was ill.

To make the story short, she was hospitalized that day and never came home. While in the hospital, she told me that they had told her in late 68, that she wouldn't live to see 1969. But she told them, she would live long enought to see her son again. She said she knew that I needed her support and love.

She kept her word,and she was so right. I really did need her support and love. Somedays, that was all I had to keep me going, that and wanting to get back and get me a Chevy Corvette.

She passed on March 13,1970. In 2002, On the SAME month and the SAME day, my sweet Sarah, my one and only Grand Daughter was born. Named for my sweet Mother.

Wonder of God's Wonders.

Papa Ray
West Texas

At 2/06/2005 8:39 PM , Blogger Some Soldier's Mom said...

Papa Ray, Your Mother was a pure soul who was made special by your love for her and hers for you -- something she left with you to pass on to your children and that special grandbaby! This story will be one more to tell your granddaughter along with many other special memories you will share! Thank you so much for writing and sharing. She smiled when you wrote it down...

At 5/25/2005 9:40 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have a 7yr old who wishes to send letters to troops this summer to show support. Do you know where we can go to get that information or who we could write to? I love your blog. thank you
my e-mail is

At 11/25/2007 7:35 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

im a senior in a high school in florida.. i want to encourge kids at my school to write letters to troops but i myself want to send it to troops.. not to an organization.. do you know how i can get addresses. emial me at

At 3/06/2008 4:23 PM , Blogger laur said...

you wrote this so long ago i'm sorry to be commenting so late!

i found this entry while searching google for a way to send letters to deployed soldiers. i can't find any websites & was wondering if you had any idea of how i could get started writing letters? my e-mail address is and i'd really appreciate any help you could give!


At 3/19/2009 3:23 PM , Blogger Yvette Lynn said... has addresses to mail out packages and letters to the soldiers.

At 6/29/2011 8:35 AM , Blogger Auntie Mimi said...

Thank you for your suggestions, my nephew just joined the Marines, and I would like write to him, but needed some ideas. My husband was in Vietnam in the 60's and I wrote weekly and sent audio tapes ( we both had the old reel to reel players back then) that way he could hear our daughters' first babbling as a baby. It is so much better today with e mail and skype. His very infrequent phone calls would come in the middle of the night and we could be cut off in the middle of talking. Then I would not know til I heard from him again if he was OK or not. I loved hearing his voice, but getting cut off was very difficult to deal with.

Thank you!!


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