Troops appreciate old-fashioned mail
When our son, Tommy, went to basic training, my wife and I didn't think that letter-writing, cards and newspaper clippings would have as much meaning to our son as they do.
His absence made a great change in our everyday life, along with changes that he had to make. In the first two weeks of his basic training, during his in-processing and paperwork, he was allowed phone usage to let us know that he got there OK; phone privilege from then on would be an earn-as-you-go privilege. Letter-writing was encouraged, and in his last phone call all he could say was "This is my address, love ya, please write, bye."
It was hard at first for both of us to get used to writing when were used to just picking up the phone. Many letters were written back and forth during his basic training program. I passed his address out to all of our family and friends. Sometimes we would even send one big letter after all of us had dropped him a few lines.
We always tried to keep dialogue among us as if he were here with us. "Atta boy" cards were sent for goals he was working for and reached. Every letter always ended with letting him know how proud were are of him and a "love ya."
When Tommy sent some of his stuff home after basic, there was a stack of letters received with a rubber band around them. Being able to catch a phone call when possible meant a whole lot, but seeing a stack of letters and cards saved with a rubber band around them, well, I knew then what communication through letters meant to both of us.
When Tommy transferred to a different training center, and after finding out he had arrived OK, his address seemed to be the next important thing. Tommy's deployment to Iraq and his first Christmas away from home were as hard for us as it would be for any parent. It seemed as if we were writing him daily after his deployment.
Personnel at the post office were super. They always let us know when packages should be shipped to make it by Christmas; they let us know what we could and couldn't mail, as well as the best way to ship them. In addition to what we sent Tommy for Christmas, my wife still wrapped other goodies and put them under the Christmas tree - and, yes, we left the tree up until he came home on leave. Some thought it was silly, but it gave us something to hope for. Tommy thought it was neat having Christmas in August.
This has been our family experience with having a son gone during the holidays. I would encourage every family and friend to remain in contact with those they know and love who are alone over the holidays. We extend our thoughts and prayers to all who serve.
David Trinkle Jr. represents Ward 1 on the Lansing City Council. His son, Tommy, is stationed in Wiesbaden, Germany, after deployment in Iraq.