As the perceptive Melissa over at Viva Snail Mail has noted…today’s cool date: 11-11-11 will unfortunately not be a date you can get postmarked on your letters. The post offices are closed today to observe Veterans Day. Well, you can write letters today and write the awesome date proudly at the top and mail it tomorrow while we still have Saturday delivery.
And while you’re writing letters on this Veterans day, take the time to write notes to friends or family members who have served in our armed forces. Thank them for their dedication and sacrifice. If you don’t know any folks who’ve served, there are several websites that help you send letters and care packages to current service members overseas. Below are some I found, but I haven’t used any of these yet. If you have, please let me know about your experience and/or share others you would recommend.
Here are the USPS rules for mailing packages overseas to troops.
Letters have always meant a lot to military members overseas. They are small bits of home that servicemen and women can carry around with them to remind them what they’re sacrificing for. During World War II, letters from home were so important that one man, Jim Johnston who accidentally received a letter to Jim Johnson, held on to the letter for more than 60 years. After Johnston passed away, his son found the letter and tracked down the original recipient. The letter shared mundane bits of life at home that soldiers longed to hear. You can read the full story here.
A recent New York Times article For Soldiers, The End of Mail Means the End of War notes that mail to miliary members in Iraq postmarked after November 17th will not be delivered in Iraq because the war is ending and troops are leaving. The article shares the perspective of a former serviceman who tells how hearing that the mail service was ending made the end of the war seem more real to him. Mail makes me feel more real and I’m sure it’s a lifeline to those living in conditions I can’t even imagine. So keep sending mail to Afghanistan and to troops in other active areas until the mail lines end there, too.
And speaking of letters and soldiers, Letters of Note has Kurt Vonnegut’s letter home written after he was held as a POW in Germany’s Slaughterhouse Five. Letters home from war are perhaps the most powerful of all, because while our letters can provide them some opportunity for mental escape, their letters expose the stark realities of war to those of us lucky enough to be safe at home.
Here’s a video of some Post Secrets from soldiers:
Thank you to every person who has sacrificed for and served our country. Thanks especially to my Dad John, my brother David, my grandfather Jim (R.I.P.) and friend Kerry.