Here's a story about a Memorial Day Letter that demonstrates both love of family and country.
Paul Tate's mother is a Master Sergeant in the National Guard who was in Iraq, and his step-father, Randy, was with him at home. Paul's father, a former SF Soldier, is a contract security officer in Afghanistan.
Randy told me the story about his step-son writing a letter for his parents overseas last Memorial Day. Here's the messages from Paul:
Hey mom, how are you? I'm doing good, been helping Randy out here and there. Helps me keep an eye on him, lol. Well, I really just wanted to e-mail you, tell you I miss and love you, and none of us can wait till you get home, even for a few weeks. I also wanted to let you know, and ask that you let everyone else over there know, that we are all proud of you. I wrote a letter to you, and anyone else you want to show it to. I love you, mom, and I will write back again soon, I promise. The letter is attached.
(you can get away with something like "mom", I can't just put "son", lol.)
And here's what Paul wanted to share:
Today is Memorial Day. A day set aside for remembering people, men and women, who have and still do serve our country. All to often, we spend the day enjoying the weather, having barbecues, and generally having fun, without realizing the importance of this day. We forget how important or freedoms are, and just how hard those who came before us had to fight to gain, and then preserve, those freedoms. I grew up in a military home, my parents and even my stepparents all spent time in the military, from Air Force MP to Special Forces, from National Guard to Army medic. Very few people outside of the military have as much respect for the job you all do as I have. Here, we all have pride in our military, but we often fall into the trap that a few people try to set up, downplaying or even vilifying the military and your importance. Sadly, that is the image that is spread around the world, which many people see more than anything else. I want to take the time, right now, to let as many of you as I can know you are all heroes. No matter what anyone says, don’t ever forget that. What you folks do is amazing, and we are all grateful for the fact that you are willing to do it. I myself wish that I could also do the job; sadly, I have a medical condition that prevents me from joining the military. I wrote this, as I said, solely so anyone reading this will know how proud we all are of our military, and I wanted to wish you all a happy Memorial Day, and god bless you all. Thank you.
Randy tells me that Paul's mom carried his letter in her pocket during her deployment. Unfortunately, that's the last letter Paul sent.
He died soon after of a heart attack. His heart was the reason that he could not serve in the military.
Randy sends an email to finish the story:
...While she was home on emergency leave we buried our son. The state AG was in attendance. He took my wife off to the side after the ceremony and offered to keep her home rather than return to duty. Later that day as we talked and grieved she asked if our daughter and I "needed" her to stay home. Would we want for her to stay home? Yes! But did we "need" her home? No. With that, she decided to return to Iraq and finish her tour. She went back not only for her soldiers, but to show the Iraqis she worked with that US soldiers, regardless of personal tragedy, finish the job they start. This soldier, wife, mother and grandmother exemplifies the Army ideals every day. I thank GOD every day for the privilege to have her in my life. As a nation, we are blessed to have people like her who sacrifice greatly for our freedom.
Thank you for your time.