Today I will be writing two more letters to two more deployed military persons. I decided there’s no better way to celebrate the 4th of July than to write letters to those who continue to defend our country and sacrifice so that we may continue to “hold these truths to be self-evident” regarding our “unalienable rights” and that “among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”
I joined the nonprofit organization Soldiers’ Angels Memorial Day weekend 2012. I had been considering the move for a few months and finally decided there was no better way to honor those who’ve sacrificed in the past than to support those who are serving us now and have in recent years and will continue to serve in future years. The group’s goal is to support every deployed military person until they all come home. Even when they do come home, military folks need support and this group is all about that. I don’t like war, etc., but I will always be grateful for those who serve this country and that’s what my volunteering for SA is all about. It’s also completely free of politics, which is great, and it’s just about showing support for people.
I had wanted to volunteer for a while. I first earned the volunteer bug in college. You may consider reading “The Jody Experience” or any of the “Detroit… The Second Trip” entries to help fill in some blanks. My life was feeling a bit empty at the time and I know that volunteering could help me feel like I was doing something. Plus I love to give back. I’m trying to live by Gandhi’s words: “The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.”
My mom had talked to me about joining Soldiers’ Angels a few years ago now. I kept putting it off for some reason but I came around to the notion again last year. I had a friend at the time who’s a marine and I wanted to get an address for him so I could send him letters but that never came to pass. Part of that desire is what prompted me to look at joining the group again and I finally took the plunge a year ago.
I signed up for the letter writing team for a few reasons. As I tell everyone whom I write, I love to volunteer. I also have a deep fondness of handwritten letters. It’s so amazing to get a nice little note in the mail instead of yet another flyer or advertisement or some company demanding money (bills…ick!). It just really shows that someone took the time, the writer cared enough to write and not just type up an email or a quick text. Anyone can do that, but not just anyone writes a letter anymore. I write two letters a week to two new people. I signed up to write to any man or woman in any military branch – National Guard, Army, Marines, Navy or Air Force. It doesn’t matter to me. It only matters I show my support and say thanks.
Joining the group, in more general terms, was also about finding my patriotic voice in a way I think suitable. I don’t wave flags or wear clothes with the flag on it – that’s too “loud” for me. A long time ago in religion class, we talked about praying humbly to the Lord. You bow your head not look up at Him. I suppose I try and apply that to everything, including patriotism. I would rather show my patriotism through some kind of action than speaking loudly that may not mean all that much anyway. Actions are proof enough. I have always believed that actions speak louder than words and so I volunteer. I support the troops and their efforts with some letters every month.
There was such an increase in patriotism after 9/11, but some much of it has faded since. It was almost like it was for show at the time and while, to a degree, that makes sense, but it wasn’t true. Again, this is why I believe in action, not words when it comes to that kind of thing. The letters are also a way of saying thanks to all these fine men and women who sacrifice so much for the rest of us. Their families and friends also sacrifice. How can I not be grateful for someone willing to his or her life on the line for me and he or she doesn’t even know me?
I added to my volunteering back in December when I adopted a soldier. That means in addition to writing two letters every week to two different people, I now write a third letter to one person every week and also send at least one or two care packages a month. I also have an e-pal, someone whom I keep in touch with via email. I love it! It’s really awesome to get the occasional response and to know they get the letters. It really means something because unfortunately, there are many that don’t get any mail. Can you imagine being so far from home and not getting a letter or any kind of mail while others do? That’s the definition of being lonely if you ask me. So it may just be a little letter and not much but I’d like to think it does something to make these guys and gals know they’re not forgotten and are much more than just appreciated.
I have a t-shirt now and a set of dog tags showing the group’s logo and motto “May No Soldier Go Unloved.” I hope that eventually I can also adopt a veteran. Once they come home, they still need support. I’m called an “Angel” because I volunteer for SA, but I don’t think I am. I only wanted to show my support, help someone out; do something meaningful for someone else. Nothing more, nothing less.
For anyone interested – please check out Soldiers’ Angels at:
P.S. Happy Fourth of July! Have a great day and be safe! 🙂