At the age of 20, after 2 years of community college, my daughter enlisted in the United States Marine Corps.
The Few. The Proud.
And they mean it.
“Sometimes your letters are the only fuel to my fire.”
This was the last sentence of a letter written about a month into Boot Camp.
Since the American Revolution letters have documented the horrors and triumphs of war, as well as the tenuous bonds that tie humanity together. All this always mixed together with an intense longing for normalcy.
A hand written letter can be a gift, a motivator, a cheerleader, an inspiration that is tangible proof somebody out there is rooting for you.
The slant of your words and the pressure of your writing on the paper, how you cross your t’s, how much (or how little) punctuation you use are all intangibles that show your personality and state of mind.
So. Sit down and write.
Do not be afraid of that empty piece of paper.
I am often intimidated by the muscular guys lifting weights at the gym…sometimes so much that I do not complete my workout.
Do not let that paper intimidate you.
- Always put the date, as this allows the recipient a point of reference. Occasionally I also put the time of day.
- Salutations: I don’t bother. Why should “Dear Anne Marie” be necessary? She already knows who she is, and if she doesn’t know she is “dear” to me by now, then I have not done my job.
- The Body: Write about anything. The weather, your dog, a class you take, a joke you heard, what you cooked, what you didn’t cook, how you feel, how your fish feels. It does not matter the topic. The point is to give the serviceman/woman a snapshot of your life, of some kind of normalcy they are not experiencing right now. The following was part of the body of a letter I wrote my daughter after her request I send her “Gorilla Glue” for hair. This paragraph is not deep or important, but I am having (what would be for us) a fairly unremarkable conversation with my daughter. The paragraph will be important to her: normalcy.
“I asked the girls at Ulta about “Gorilla Glue” hair gel. They had not heard of it– though we had all heard of Gorilla Glue super glue– which I certainly do not recommend for hair. But since it never would come out, I guess that negates any “hassle” with styling. For basically the rest of your life… (heehee)”
4. Closing. It is best to end with something inspiring/motivating/encouraging. We may not have enlisted in any branch of the military, but we still should task ourselves with lifting up those that have.
Be well. Be fine. Be strong.
Be diligent. Be tireless. Be studious.
Be patient. Be tolerant. Be capable.
Be your best.
This was the close of a letter mailed today.
5. Lastly, keep the letter to 1-2 pages, as servicemen/women do not have a ton of time. They just need fuel for their fire.
With Warm Regards, D.