Each day we set foot outside of the comfort of our homes we pass by an American flag. It might be just outside our front door or wave proudly on the warm spring breeze at your local court house or business. This flag represents many things to many people whether they support the present war or not. Red may represent the blood veterans shed on the battlefields here at home and abroad. The white for the handkerchief used to catch a tear when a loved one has been lost. Blue for the blanket of heavenly sky above us all that our men and women in the military guard with their lives everyday.
|Support our Troops|
Like so many families in this country we have two loved ones already in the military, one of our sonís in serving in the Navy while his cousin is a Airborne Ranger in Special Forces. These young men from one family are trained to fight for and preserve our freedom. Along their journey ahead our messages of love and support will remind them of home. These letters will give them encouragement while they face each new challenge. They will also reinforce the bonds we share and become cherished pieces of history for future generations.
Volunteers of the Legacy Project have set out to encourage everyone to find and preserve their letters before they are lost or damaged. If the unthinkable should happen during wartime these letters help us honor and remember our nationís veterans. Through their own words we can embrace and share their spirit time and again with those they have left behind.
Think of these letters as you would old photographs that are delicate and irreplaceable. You can preserve them by not handling very often. Make a copy of the letter to share with loved ones. Try not to write on, staple, paper clip, bind with rubber bands, or use anything with glue on them, such as post-it notes. These precautions help prevent rust residue and discoloration. Keep a journal or note cards describing personal information about who wrote the letter. This helps anyone else who finds them later identify the family member and save them to pass on to the next generation.
Professionals are available to repair or restore old letters. You can find one in your area by contacting: The American Institute for Conservation of Historic and Artistic Works, 1717 K St., NW, Suite 200, Washington, DC 20006-5342. The office number is (202) 452-9545. To learn more about the Legacy Project, CLICK HERE.
While at the PBS web site, (Public Broadcast Station) you can also learn more about preserving your letters and read pieces from the book by Andrew Carroll, War Letters. Check with your local library for a copy of the book. Most libraries have Internet access you can use to access the site and follow a time line of the United States Military Actions and Wars. Resources are also available for teachers to help students better understand our countries history.
Many Americans in the past have sent letters addressed to "Any Service Member". The Department of Defense discontinued this service due to security and other concerns. They now encourage Americans to offer their support to the families of service men and women here in the States. The web site www.defendamerica.mil offers the public many means to support our troops here and abroad.
Another program available to show support to our troops is "Operation USO Care Package." Through this web site, Americans and corporations can find a list of items military personal need. You can also call 1-866-USO-GIVE to find out more. Packages sent to those deployed overseas can include personal messages of support. Among the personal items on the list are disposable razors, shampoo, stationary, playing cards, shoe polish kits, and current movies on DVD's.
Those sending letters to loved ones stationed throughout the world should include the service member's full name, either with or without their rank. Also include their unit and Air/Army Post Office or Fleet Post Office (APO/FPO) address with the nine-digit Zip code. Be aware that letters and parcels sent through the Military Postal Service Agency to overseas destinations make take up to two weeks to deliver. Cushion the contents within the packages with newspaper or packing materials. Test the box before sealing by shaking it, if you hear rattling; add more material to prevent contents from shifting about. If sending any device that requires batteries, remove them. The item could accidentally be turned on during shipping and wear down the batteries before the package arrives. When ready to seal the box reinforce all seams with wide clear or brown packaging tape. The Postal Service advises patrons to include a card describing the contents within the box in case the package is damaged. This should also contain the sender and recipient's address. Always provide a return address, and when sending care packages avoid contents of inappropriate nature. For detailed information on contents allowed visit your local Postal Service or call: 1-800-ASK-USPS.
Time is precious. Everyday our hearts go out to those whose loved ones have perished. Our prayers are given for those in uniform with the courage to stand proud and defend their country. Each minute another solider reads a message of love and support from his family or friends. Remember, whether sending a letter of encouragement to a family member, friend, or someone you've never met your thoughts will be welcomed.