In honor of Veterans Day, I was going to include one of the letters a soldier friend named Mario sent to me while he was serving in Afghanistan. I wanted everyone to catch a glimpse of what some of these men and women sacrifice to protect us.
But as I went through the letters, I realized I couldn’t use them. They were just too painful and personal. One was about a terrifying helicopter ride over Kabul. Another talked about a friend who committed suicide. Yet another was about working with two friends, being separated and losing them both to an incendiary device moments later. And finally there was a plea asking me to send chocolate.
At last, I found part of a letter I could share. Here’s what Mario said:
I plan to go home at the beginning of next year. When I go back it will be the best part of the hunting season and I want to see my woods again, my mountains and my world. I want to spend some moments seeing places I hunted with my father when I was just a little bit older than a kid. I didn’t know how beautiful and important those same trees and rocks and smells would become for me… for the rest of my life.
To all veterans, to my father and my mother and my friend Mario and all the countless others who have served — Thank you. I wish you happiness and sand between your toes. I wish you beautiful beaches and a beautiful family.
I hope you remember what you’ve done today. I do.*
*I wrote this blog a year ago, but wanted to share it again on this very special day.