The first time I remember my dad being gone was during a year-long deployment to South Korea when I was in the second grade. Video calling software was not commonly available during that time, so my dad typically called on the house phone to communicate with my mom, my sister, and me. However, the time difference meant that I was asleep the vast majority of the time he called. So I would type up letters to mail to him—some of which my father has kept over the years. Even now, my dad still gets a kick out of pulling old letters my sister and I wrote him during his deployments. There is just something so special about looking back and reading letters and remembering that time.
I took a special honors course during my time at university focusing on the two World Wars through the perspective of letters written by soldiers and to soldiers from their loved ones. Even though I went to university to study accounting, that course was one of my absolute favorites that I took. It provided such a deep and rich perspective from the men and women who wrote by their own hands their journeys, fears, and love.
We are so used to instant communication and gratification that we forget to value the permanence of things.
We take thousands of photos of our kids on our phones, but how often do we actually print them out to preserve for our futures? I know I am so guilty of that!
We must also remember that many of our men and women fighting overseas will sometimes find themselves in positions during deployment where they are not able to communicate to their loved ones back home for an extended amount of time. I’ve heard countless stories of how they held onto pictures and they would re-read letters already written to them to have something to hold on to and remember why they are fighting.
I’m so glad that my children have so many more options to talk to their daddy when Uncle Sam calls him away. But I know we’ll make sure he receives our love on paper, too. Whether he needs to pull those out to boost his spirits, or we need to reopen his to boost our own. Maybe they’ll even show up in some college student’s textbook in 70 years.
There’s lasting value to sending your thoughts in an envelope instead of a webcam.
Don’t write off writing letters!