Veterans are in my thoughts today, and troops on active duty, too, halfway around the world. Drew was in the Navy during the Vietnam War and was stationed near Saigon for a year. 9,000 miles away. It seemed like forever that he was gone from the kids and me. We relied on letters to stay in touch. We didn’t have any kind of social media and phone calls were rare and expensive. So we wrote to each other, daily, and our letters were totally at the mercy of postal delivery. Every day I checked the mail—hoping there would be something from Drew. I hoped that my letters, full of the mundane details of our daily life, gave Drew some relief from the mental and physical strains of war.
Last week I looked back at some of the things we wrote. Reading through them again brought it all back. I was afraid he might not come home to me and Mary and Robert, and that our lives might not ever be the same when he did return. I was managing two toddlers and a job and I didn’t want to do it alone. It’s been over 45 years, but those letters, and the memories, made me cry.
Drew wrote some beautiful letters to me. I don’t think I was as good at writing about my love for him. In one letter, from May 1971, he wrote: “…thinking deliciously sentimental thoughts of you… Next year at this time, I will have been home for over two months and you will probably be used to me again. But it will never be the same. From now on, whenever I get angry with you, I will think, but God, how terrible it was without her.”
A few months later he wrote, “Linda, I have no pressing subject to pursue; it’s just the kind of night I’d like to be sitting outdoors with you, talking about nothing in particular, except that’s not possible, so I’m writing. I miss the simple things so much. I’ll think about you; it’s a poor substitute for the real thing but far preferable to thinking of anything else. I love you. Always. Drew.”
Please remember our veterans this Veterans Day weekend and thank them for those months and years of their lives spent so that we can live in safety and freedom. And keep our active service men and women in your thoughts and prayers, too. Those who stand as shields between us and all those who would do us harm need our prayers and heartfelt gratitude – every day.
And, for the veteran in my home, let me end by saying this to you: I love you, too. Always.