This is the hardest letter I’ve ever written. I hate to address this to such a broad audience, but it’s the only way I can possibly get my point across. As we all know, Thanksgiving is coming up, which means Christmas is right around the corner as well. I beg you to appreciate what you have and all the people in your life. Do not take for granted those things that so easily are, and remember the privilege you have of spending quality time with the ones you love.
I haven’t seen my wife in six months, three weeks, two days, fifteen hours, thirty-seven minutes, and let’s see, twenty seconds now. I spend my nights in bed alone, if not in a hole somewhere on the opposite side of the world. Instead of drifting off to sleep to the sound of my wife’s steady breathing, I lie awake as explosions echo all around me. The crack of continuous gunfire haunts my dreams, if I even fall asleep. I’m hungry, thirsty, and exhausted.
I was able to watch my boy take his first steps, but only through Skype. I had to find a towel so I could wipe the tears off of the laptop keyboard. I tried to hide them from my wife, but she noticed. She didn’t say anything. I’ve only spoken with her three times since I have been deployed. Three times. I know she wonders every day if someone will show up at our front door with the horrifying news that I was killed in action. Do you know how that makes me feel knowing she has to endure that? I want to hold her in my arms and tell her that everything will be alright, even though I can’t be certain of that myself.
I want to see my son running toward me with arms outstretched as I walk into the house. I want to hear his joyful cries of “Daddy!”. I want to go outside and kick a soccer ball around. Maybe throw a baseball back and forth. Push him on the swing. Chase him around the playground. I want to be the father that is always there for him. He’s too young to understand why I never come home at night for dinner, or tuck him into bed and read a story.
This year, when you’re sitting around the table, surrounded by family and friends, please don’t forget about the mother and young son who miss their husband and father. Say a prayer for those who are on foreign soil sacrificing their freedom for a greater cause. While you’re eating turkey, stuffing, and mashed potatoes, please remember there are those quietly eating MRE’s with a rifle by their side.
When you’re standing in line for a week, in the freezing cold, rain, and wind to buy toys for Christmas, think about me as I stand guard over my brothers and sisters here on the battlefront. I like when it rains. It hides the tears that run down my face from thinking about the ones I miss so much.
When you’re fighting over the last TV at Best Buy, stop and think about me fighting for your freedom. We are under constant threat from bombs, gunfire, and air attacks. One of our own was killed last week when a young boy walked up to our convoy and opened fire with an assault rifle. Parker had a wife and two kids, both girls. They won’t have their daddy to walk them down the aisle on their special day. We can’t trust anyone over here. They use children to get close thinking we don’t suspect them. We have to treat everyone as the enemy.
It’s not easy here, I won’t even pretend it is. I consider it an honor to fight for the greatest country in the world, but there are times when I feel selfish. There are moments when I miss my family so much, I would do almost anything to see and hold them. Holidays are the absolute hardest days to get through. As I stare at the picture of my wife and son, I touch their faces and pray that they know how much I love them. I look up at the stars and wonder if they are looking at the same ones.
I hope you don’t take this letter the wrong way. It’s not meant to inflict guilt, and it wasn’t written in anger. I just want you to never forget about the men and women who are over here fighting and won’t be able to spend time with their loved ones during the holidays. I’m a Marine, husband, and father with shoulders that are wide and strong. They can handle the blood, the death, and the pain. It’s my honor to fight for each and every one of you. All I ask for in return is that you say a prayer for us tonight. Pray that we make it back to our loved ones. Pray that we don’t lose sight of our mission. Pray that my wife will not live in constant fear. Pray that my son will remember who I am.
Most of all, pray that we will honor the sacrifices made by those who came before us, the ones who shed their blood long ago, so we could carry on the fight.
A soldier fighting for you