In the process of doing some research, one of my colleagues came across a poignant Veterans Day tribute. It dates back over 45 years, but the sentiments are powerful and timeless. Sadly, thousands of mothers and fathers today can relate to the following words of a woman named Mrs. Katherine Jones of Porterville, California, which appeared in the Porterville Evening Recorder in November of 1967:
To the editor:
I am only one of several mothers in Porterville who have lost sons in Vietnam during the past year, but as one mother, this is my tribute to my son. No parades, no cheering crowds, no moment of silence – just a mother’s love and gratitude for a son who went willingly and honorably to serve his country. I am sure he walked with fear yet with courage into the path of death. He wanted to live to make a worthwhile contribution to life – yet in dying made a greater contribution.
Going through some of his personal belongings I found the letter I wrote him on the eve of his departure for Marine training – words written because my heart was too full to say them. May I share them with you and with all other parents of boys in the service and those who have lost their sons in war:
October 31, 1966
My son: Only a few hours more until you will be leaving to begin a new part of your life, and as it was when Jerry left so it is with you. I cannot find a way to say to you what I want to say without crying and no mother wants to send a son away with that as his last memory. So please forgive me for doing it this way.
I am so proud of you, of the man I can see you becoming, proud of the ideals and principles you have. You are an honor to your father’s name. So I simply say thank you for what you are and for what I know you will be in the future.
You are part and parcel of my life and whatever you do affects me, too, but regardless of how much I love you I have looked forward to the time when you would walk out into life on your own, confidently, eagerly, ready to meet any challenges it offers with the best ability you have, to give to the world a worthwhile life.
So as your mother, I give you up to be a man. A good man, strong and true to the best things in life. There will be many difficult days ahead, I’m sure, but let God make you equal to all of the things that may come your way. Give the world a smile each day. Be thankful to God’s mercies and remember that every day, everywhere, I love you.
If you are a mom and dad of young kids, I think this will cause you to hug and hold them a little tighter today. For those who have endured the long days and lonely nights awaiting the return of deployed family members – thank you! To both active and retired military personnel – our hearts swell with gratitude and appreciation for all of you.
May God bless and protect every man and woman in uniform. Please let us know how we can pray for you and your loved ones.
Happy Veterans Day!
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