Pen Pal Friendships
(Page 3 of 14)
Kenneth - Mauston, Wisconsin
Thankful For Letters
I remember it like it was yesterday. Seated in the loneliness of the dining hall midmorning, I would have 10 or 12 letters, all addressed to “Any Service Member,” scattered on the table. During such breaks, it was always a mad rush to get a few lines off to the unknown schoolchildren back in the United States who had taken the time to write. In a testament to the spirit and patriotism of the American people, these pen pal letters swamped our military postal system.
Those young pen pals asked the most innocent questions, which always managed to bring tears to my eyes.
“Do you miss your mom?”
“How often can you take a bath?”
“Have you met General Schwarzkopf?”
Eventually, I’d check the time and realize it was futile to try and answer them all, so I’d gather them up and return to my quarters, where I would stuff them under my pillow with the letters I’d failed to answer yesterday ... and the day before, and the day before that and so on. Then I would sit on the edge of my bunk and snatch a homemade cookie from a care package that another child had sent.
I would leave my quarters with a smile on my face to catch the bus down to the squadron area. It was January 1991, Operation Desert Storm was in full swing, and I had to fly another mission over Kuwait.
While riding on a dilapidated bus and staring out the window at the sand, a line from one of that morning’s letters popped back into my head. The line read: “Thank you for your service.” When I thought about it, I couldn’t help but say to myself, “Thank me? No. Thank you for mailing me the inspiration for another day. Thank you for the motivation to complete the mission. And thank you for the reminder that I live in the greatest country on Earth.”
John - Hilton Head Island, South Carolina
Hawaiian Pen Pal
One day in May 1956, my seventh-grade English teacher started class, and as usual, I wasn’t paying attention. Then I realized Miss Nelson was talking about something fun. She had a list of students who wanted pen pals. The rule was that girls had to choose girl pen pals and boys had to pick boy pen pals. I eagerly looked at the list and chose a girl named Rosie Alota from Honolulu, Hawaii.
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