Holiday gift: giving a bit of time and love

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We can all do something to honor the service of our young people. We can write letters or emails to the troops, or make a donation to support them overseas and their families at home. Especially now, as we begin a new year, we want them to know that we appreciate their sacrifice.

Of course, the USO always welcomes donations and volunteers in its efforts on behalf of our troops. Now there are websites that also facilitate letter-writing and the giving of donations. For letters, there is For donations, consider the Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund or Fisher House. The latter two received A+ ratings from a reliable oversight group that monitors charities.

Lest anyone doubt the power of wartime letters, the following was written from Vietnam in 1968 by Gary Conant, a marine bugler and shofar blower, to his wife of two months, Maxie:

Dear Maxie,

Today makes exactly two months that we’ve been married. It seems so unfair that we should be apart now — it’s too soon. We should be together and happy instead of half a world away from each other because of war that no one wants. A young bride should be with her husband instead of sitting home at her parents’ house by herself. We should be starting a home now and planning for the future and having our little fights and making up and getting to know each other, and laughing and crying and trying to decide what color the toilet paper should be. Writing letters is no way to start a life together. At least now the sharp pain is almost gone — now it’s just a dull ache that won’t go away. It’s like I’m not all here, like I left part of me behind — and I did. You have my heart — I’m here in body but not in spirit. I left my heart and love with you and I feel empty now. I’m just here. You are my love …

Got incoming — later.

Am down in a hole now — writing by candlelight. It started getting a little too close to suit me. Still pretty far away — about ½ mile, but I don’t like to take chances. It’s a good night for it — real cloudy. Hope they stop that madness. Guess I’ll sleep in a bunker tonite, even though I hate to because it’s so cramped. It’s safer.

You asked me if I pray — yes. Not long. All I ask for is to come back to you safe and sound. We have so much to live for and I ask so little. Just to be with you again …
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