Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Letters Blogged From Home

I wrote the note to follow for the Letters from Home Program, in which the law school is participating this week. You can learn more about it here: http://www.lettersfromhomeprogram.org/.

My Friend,

First, I’m writing to say thanks. Thanks for your hard work, for your staggering sacrifices, for your strength and bravery. You’re protecting a country and a way of life that’s thousands of miles away from you and I can’t even begin to tell you how happy I am that people like you exist. Sincerely, thanks.

Huh. Okay, that’s about all I got. I’m told this program is really to let the Troops know they’re supported back at home, which I’ve done, so what else can I write about? Well, first, I just read the instructions and I see I’m given a laundry list of things to avoid:

1. Messages written in any language other than English
2. Messages that disparage the U.S. government
3. Messages containing explicit sexual references
4. Messages containing codes
5. Messages denigrating any person or group based on age, religion, physical or mental disability, sexual orientation, ethnicity or race
6. Political or issue-oriented messages

So don’t expect any of that here, sir or ma’am. If you opened this letter because you’re hoping to hear about

la incompetence de l’administration de Bush,
that I’m wearing a kimpy-say egligee-nay,
or that conservative Canadians make terrible hockey players,

well, I’m afraid you’re in for a bit of disappointment. God knows the last thing I’d want to do is offend you, so I’ll keep this letter nice and boring. (By the way, Bush really is incompetent, I’m not really wearing a negligee, and I’m pretty sure all Canadians, regardless of political orientation, are damn good hockey players from birth. Sorry if any of that offends...)

Nowhere in the instructions does it say that you’ll get to write me back, so I won’t bother to ask any questions here like some elementary school pen pal. (“dear penpal, how are you? I am fine. how is baghdad? do you like ice cream? I like ice crem. xoxo, little mikey”) And even if you are allowed to write back, I understand from my military friends that free time is rare for you guys. Don’t waste it on little mikey.

Unfortunately, taking away my questions for you means I’m forced to talk about myself, which is lame at best. Here’s the abridged version: I’m a law student in Buffalo, New York. I’m married to a perfect woman and have two perfect daughters. I’m a democrat and though I can’t see eye-to-eye with the current administration, I’m a died-in-the-wool patriot. I do like ice cream.

I just re-read this letter and I see I talk a lot of smack about W. (Believe it or not, I’m holding back.) But I don’t want you to think that means you have my support any less. On the contrary, you’re already a hero, despite who is at the helm of our country.

I come from a somewhat military background. One grandfather was a ship captain in the Navy, and my dad was in Vietnam. My other grandfather was in the Merchant Marines. One friend and former co-worker is in the JAG core in Baghdad right now. Another friend is going to school on the Navy’s dime this semester, though he had to spend a year overseas to earn it. (I’m kind of keeping him in mind while I write this. I just took out a whole paragraph about the classes I’m taking because I know it would bore him to tears.)

That friend was always happy to hear that there was real support for the troops back home, which is a huge reason I’m writing to you today. I mean, it’s easy to slap a yellow ribbon-shaped sticker on your car (and there’s a lot of that going on here), but you should know that America really does have your back. Americans, no matter how they feel about politics or the war, pray for you and your safety. I know this much: The fact that you’re overseas means that I get to be a student and a father in the US, like so many of my classmates here in Buffalo.

My wife and I are watching this great miniseries on HBO right now about the life of John Adams. He had a line (I’m paraphrasing) about how he had to study war so that his kids could study math and philosophy, which would let his grandkids learn about music and art. Maybe it’s because the country is at war right now, or maybe it’s because I have kids of my own (probably both), but that line really struck me.

And that’s it right there, I think. That’s the reason you have my support, and the support of all the other student/fathers in America. I guarantee we’re working our asses off to make a better way of life for our kids, but only because we know our way of life is protected. Only because people like you exist.

Well, that got a little mushier than I’d expected, but I hope I was able to help you pass the time for a few minutes anyway. (And I hope my letter isn’t disqualified for saying “ass”...)

Like I said, I imagine you only get a few free minutes each day, so I won’t be looking for a response any time soon. But if you’re ever in Buffalo, after this is all done and you’re back on this side of the Atlantic, look me up and I’ll introduce you to my daughters.

Stay safe, fight the good fight, God Bless America, and xoxo,
Michael J. Garvey


Bryan Mahoney said...

Hey Mike -

As a son-of-Vietnam-Vet who once worked in the Merchant Marines with guys about to go into the Navy, now a part of the media machine blamed for supporting/not supporting the war, I have to say this may be the best thing you've ever written.

And now, to make it more like a usual comment from me, um ... Han shot first.

Anonymous said...

i really appreciate this letter, and if you didn't, you should send it.