Letter 1: from Aimee

It is with great hope that [I write this letter, and I hope that] whoever is reading this [letter] is in need of a spiritual hug. My name is Aimee, and I live in Los Angeles, California. I am actually writing to you as part of an assignment for an English class. However, it is very interesting to me that the timing of the assignment could not have been more surreal. I was watching television the other night and a movie was on that I had never seen, and I love Tom Hanks, so I watched for a little longer. My mouth dropped and my heart fell into my stomach as I watched this movie that was making me want to cry with every scene. It was Private Ryan, and I had no idea how devastating war really is. I realize that television may be a little dramatized, but I never took the time to experience the pain that you must feel while you are saving MY LIFE being there. It seems so funny that I never tend to have compassion for another unless I feel or understand what that person is going through. I may never understand how you feel being in Iraq, but I can understand how grateful I am that you are who you are and that you do what you are doing. You define the word “hero,” and I cannot imagine the life we all would have without your selfless bravery and strength to show up every day and protect thousands of lives that you have never seen. I wish I could take away some of your loneliness or pain that you might be having from being there and give you the freedom that you have given us. “Thank you” cannot describe the love I have for you, and if I could send a BIG, WARM HUG to the one of the greatest people I may never get the pleasure of meeting, then I would, as though I have given back some of the love you have protected me with. THANK YOU, and may God bless you and your family this holiday season.


Letter 2: from Jorge

I am the father of four beautiful boys; my wife and I are expecting twin girls by the end of the year. We reside in a modest home in the city of Los Angeles. Luckily enough my wife gets to stay home while I work hard to provide for them. My life is very active; having four little ones keeps me busy anywhere from soccer practice to football practice to changing diapers, cooking, washing clothes, etc.

Please allow me to tell you how grateful I am with what you do. It is thanks to you my kids can go to the park on the weekend with no worries. It is thanks to you I can go on a business trip with peace of mind. It is thanks to you our country is not at war here, and we can still frequent the beach and the movie theaters. It is thanks to you our Military is the number one in the world. You are the common denominator for the millions around this world. You are the one who decided to step forward in order to make a change possible. You are the one we all admire. You are the one we pray for every day. You are the one we hope to see back home soon.

Please be safe; your family and your Country need you back.

Thank you for your courage, your initiative, your ability to lead, your endurance, and your love for us. Thank you so much for keeping us safe. God bless you.

Letter 3: from Charles

I am writing to you, to everyone that I have never met or seen. I am writing for you to know me, so that when you return, you may know me already.

First, my name is Charles, and I am living in Thousand Oaks, California, with my family in an apartment in front of a mall, where I am currently working as a salesperson, selling and even serving others. I am serving tea, and I want to serve you also. For all the help you have done, for all the people you have served, I want to serve you also. I want to serve you a cup of tea, or even have a cup of coffee, and we can sit and talk. Right now, I want to talk about how grateful I am, how thankful I am that you all are serving me. You are serving me your strength, power, endurance, care, help, wisdom, bravery, and love. I can't stop from here; the list goes on. Thank you for doing what you are doing now, and I can't wait to thank you when you are here and we can sit and talk. Right now, again, I want to talk about what you are serving to me. You are serving to me energy. You are giving me the energy I need for fuel, to look at what's in front of me, and fight. Thank you for all that muscle, and I want to serve back to you that energy. I can't wait to serve that to you when you all return.

I am writing to you all, to everyone who knows me a little now, but whom I have never seen or met. Thank you so very much. I can't wait to see you and tell you how grateful, how thankful I am, and everything else. I wish you all the best and a happy season for you, your family, and us.


Letter 4: from Mojgan

To all the brave men and women, who are serving in the U.S military in Iraq and Afghanistan:

My name is Mojgan; I am originally from Iran.

As many of you know, we have also suffered tremendously in the war with Iraq, which lasted for 8 years.

In that war, we have witnessed things and actions that are beyond Imagination.
Just like in any war, people have to suffer, lose their lives, their loved ones, their peace of mind and their safety.

For what? I guess for nothing.
I don't know.

All I know is that, I hate the war.

I hate the fact that all of these innocent people and young children have to make sacrifices for something that they don't even understand.

I hate the war, because it takes away your freedom and childhood, and makes you lose all of your dreams.

I hate the fact that you brave soldiers, day and night, without sleep, or a proper food or bed, have to fight for the freedom and justice.

I hate the fact that you have to put a lot of things behind and go to the jungle of fire and hate, in order to fight for our safety.

I am sorry that my letter was not a happy one.
These are my feelings. These are what I think about every day.

I pray and wish for your safety and your health, and I hope you all come back to your families and your loved ones as soon as possible, in one piece.

I am sorry for the tears that you shed every day, and ache for you; I carry you in my heart.

I wish I had [a] magic wand that I could make every bad thing and bad thought go away, and there would be no war and no pain.

But instead I pray, and pray for all of you.

Thank you from the bottom of my heart for every minute that you spend in there to protect us.

God bless you all.

Letter 5: from Ronyae

Dear, Soldiers in Military in Iraq and Afghanistan,

My name is Ronyae; I am a 22-year-old single mother. I am currently attending West Los Angeles College trying to attain an A.A. Degree in Criminal Justice, while working a side job for my dad’s real estate business. My heart goes out to you and your families, for it takes a lot of encouragement and sacrifice to be where you are. I know it’s not easy being away from home, and I know some of you had no choice but to go, but I just want to tell you that you all are in my prayers. I give my deepest sympathy for those who have lost loved ones in the war, as well as loved ones you may have lost back home. I know it’s not easy living a different lifestyle from what you are used to back home. I hope that your future looks brighter and that you are able to leave Iraq and Afghanistan healthy and looking forward to making a family. You will be blessed with benefits for the rest of your life, and your experience will always amaze your children. I hope these words encourage you all to keep your head up, and to let you know that I think of you all, all the time, and praise you for fighting for our country.

Letter 6: from Celeste

Letter to a Soldier

To the heroic members of the United States military:

Today, as you courageously defend the freedoms and principles of America, I personally offer my sincere support, unity and encouragement to you.

The war on terrorism is not only being fought by you in treacherous lands abroad, but in the homes and hearts of the American people here in the United States.

We all were attacked on September 11. That's why we all have a critical stake in ensuring that this battle against terrorism is won decisively.

And that's why I want you to know that as a patriotic American, I am willingly providing support to you both financially and morally.

I am grateful that you are willingly risking your life for me and for my family, and I appreciate the sacrifices you are making in the defense of my freedoms and my life.

I know being away from your loved ones is painful, but please know that I, and your fellow Americans, support you as you willingly make this sacrifice for us.

Today, I stand united with you in this great cause for justice and freedom. And I want to stand up to make sure that this promise, which was made to you, is fulfilled:

"I made a commitment to every serviceman and woman: For the mission that lies ahead, you will have everything you need—every resource, every weapon, every means to assure full victory for the United States, our allies, our friends, and the cause of freedom."

Letter 7: from Rhonda

To My Heroes Serving in the U.S. Military,

I would like to say thank you so much, from deep within my heart, for your heroism in protecting men and women all over the U.S.A. whom you have never met, but choose to protect while leaving your own loved ones. It takes a special kind of person to risk his or her life for the sake of his or her fellow men, without asking for anything in return.
I am Rhonda, a vibrant 33-year-old mother of a three-year-old who loves life and all the future has to offer. You people make it possible for me to wake up in a country without imminent danger lurking from terrorists who do not fear American soldiers.
I apologize if I appear over-dramatic when it comes to the war, but if TV reflects exactly what you guys are experiencing—well, you women and men have more bravery than I probably ever will.

I cannot even imagine the thoughts running through your heads prior to reaching your destinations overseas. I have a 30-year-old brother, and he was shipped to Iraq a few years ago; when he came back, he was shook up, and vowed never to return. I was so worried about him mentally because normally he appears as a warrior. He said, “Sis, I feel so much compassion for those Iraqi citizens, but I never ever want to return; that experience scared the s--- out of me!” His experience, being able to come back home, compared to the experience of families that never got another opportunity to speak with their loved ones, sits fresh in my mind, whenever I hear a loved one speak of their distant hero in Iraq. These reasons and more are why I will raise my daughter not to take her freedom for granted.

I appreciate all of you for allowing me and my daughter to live in a country where I am not paranoid about walking or driving down a street without a bomb exploding or a suicide bomber walking into a local eatery or mall, blowing my baby and me to smithereens. Forgive me if my letter reminds you of what you see every day, but when I think about the war over there in Iraq or Afghanistan, this visualization reflects what I see on the news channel daily. I find myself not wanting to watch the news because there’s so much bloodshed. However, I am a mother who wants to protect my child at any cost, so I need to be in tune with my country.

I am currently a student working toward a paralegal degree, and a single mother. It was my choice to become a single mother because I choose not to raise my daughter in a household of confusion. Peace of mind you cannot pay for. My goal is to raise my daughter to be the kind of proud and fearless individuals you are. I want her to stand up for what she believes [in] and to be selfless when needed. You people keep up the good work. I will continue to keep you and your families in my prayers because I can only imagine what your spouses, children, parents and siblings go through daily missing your presence. I want to wish you a Merry Christmas.


Letter 8: from Kelly

Dear Soldiers,

I hope this letter finds you well and in good spirits. My name is Kelly. I am originally from Thailand, but now live in Los Angeles. Even though I am not from here, this doesn’t make me less grateful for what you are doing for all of us.

So, thank you! Thank you for leaving your home and loved ones to protect OUR country, so that the people whom you left behind could feel safe. Although people are still debating about the war, its causes, and how it should end, I only care for your safety and wellness. I know you must be missing your homes and families, and I know they feel the same.

I have friends who were deployed in Iraq with the U.S. Army, so I can tell you that while you are gone, people are missing you and praying and waiting for you to come back safely. I am sending you my love and spirit. Please be safe, and I hope you return home soon.

Letter 9: from Annie

Hello, My Dear Friends,

My name is Annie, and I am living in California. I am so grateful to have this opportunity of writing this letter to thank all of you who are on this mission.

First, I would like to share a little story of my father. I am from Taiwan, but my father was from the north of China. My father was a soldier, and my father and lots of his friends who were also soldiers followed Chiang Kai-Shek, the President of the Republic of China, to Taiwan after the civil war between the Chiang Kai-Shek government and the communists in the 1940s. After the communists took over the Mainland of China, my father and the other soldiers who were from China were not able to go back to China until 40 years later, in 1989. They had no way to contact their families in China because the communists blocked all the systems of communication. In addition, their families could be tortured and abused by the communists if the soldiers attempted to contact their families by mail in mainland China, and of course, there was no e-mail or telephone at that time. When my father first went back to China after not seeing his family for 40 years, he was 65 years old, and his mother had died. Lots of soldiers had the same situation, or worse: no home, and parents and siblings who had died or been tortured to death long ago. The Chinese soldiers in Taiwan would live alone in Taiwan until death came later on. I talk about this story because I have met some of those old, lonely soldiers, and none of them regretted what had they done, leaving their families when they were very young, and they told me: “Everyone will do the same thing as I did if he is a real man, because I love my country, and it is an honor to fight for my country.”

I thank all of you for your brave sacrifices, leaving your family to protect our country, so that we can have [a] stable life in the U.S. Thanks to all of you; no matter if you are a man or a woman, you are a real hero in my heart. Please be strong and keep this in mind: your family is waiting for your homecoming to honor you and cherish you, and so are all of us who live in the U.S.

Happy holidays and God bless all of you and your families…!


Letter 10: from Carlos

Dear American Soldier in Iraq:

I am writing to you simply as a fellow American.

In just about every way, I am quite typical. I am a married man with three children, believe in God, and love my country. Our country is struggling right now because of the economy, but we haven't forgotten about you; we have you in our hearts.

For these reasons, I am writing to you. Though you may already know everything I am about to say, I need to say it for those of you who, after seeing fellow soldiers blown up or severely injured, may sometimes wonder whether these sacrifices are worth it. So, first, let me set the record straight. Not since World War II have the stakes been this great. This is a war for the future of civilization every bit as much as the wars against German Nazism and Japanese Fascism.... If we had lost those wars, the world would have devolved into barbarism. If we lose this one, the same will happen. We Americans are relatively alone, because from our founding we have believed that we have a mission to better the world. And for this we are hated. We are not hated for our power; we are hated for our values and our sense of chosen-ness – just as the never-powerful Jews have long been hated for their values and their chosen-ness. In sum, you are carrying the great burden of history on your shoulders every day you serve in Iraq. That some of your fellow citizens do not understand this only means that the war for civilization is taking place as much here at home as it is in Iraq.

We pray for you not only because you are our sons and daughters risking your lives, but also because if God is good, and if we humans can discern between good and evil, you are doing God's work. It is as clear as that.

squaresVarious writers

As part of a journal assignment, West students in several classes wrote letters to our soldiers serving in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan. Ten of these letters were selected for publication, as they beautifully articulate the way all of the students feel about our soldiers.