Throughout the Vietnam War, I wrote numerous letters and sent them off to "Any Soldier" - occasionally, I got a response. I built up a relationship with one young soldier - then, one day the letters stopped. I learned later that he was killed in Da Nang. When I learned of his death, it was so personal to my young soul. I didn't really know him, yet I missed him terribly. This was my first direct experience with a war death, though not my last. Suddenly, in my mind, all of the men and women who had sacrificed for our country became real to me. Our December 7 visits to the Arizona in Pearl Harbor were different, the Memorial Day visits to Punchbowl were different, even watching the old WWII movies was different. I saw everything with new eyes. Years later, I came to realize that after WWII, Americans were insulated from this experience. Most Americans will never know someone in the military and most don't know someone who does. Yet, they freely make assumptions about who these men and women are. How sad for us as a nation that so few take the time to know any of these amazing people.
As life and career became all consuming, my letter writing reverted to the holiday cards and letters. It was always uplifting once I carved out a space of time and got it done. After my Mom passed on, it was more difficult for me to do. It made me miss her even more.
September eleventh, two thousand one. Life changed for all of us. That evening, amidst the tears, I saw my Mom's face at the tarmac at the Honolulu airport over thirty years ago, and knew that I was going to go on a similar journey - one letter at a time - one package at a time - one soldier, marine, airman or sailor at a time. I was going to fight this fight as best I could, by uplifting those who were in harm's way.