Welcome to the contest for the NIGHTINGALE blog tour

Congratulations to the runner's up winners:

Sarah B.

And the grand prize winner is:


Nightingale is about letters, the power of written correspondence to convey thoughts and emotions to those far away. And sometimes near. Letters are forever, they are something we savor and pull out to read again and again. They are often cherished and kept in a special place.

Thanks to everyone who submitted a letter, both public and private, during the contest. The grand prize winner will receive a Flip HD Camcorder. The 5 runner's up winners won a signed copy of Nightingale.


1. Doreen: I'd like to write a letter to my Mom stating that I'm  grateful for the many things that she's done for me.
Thank you for the everyday things that you do for me, have done for me and continue to do. I don't really tell you that I'm grateful for you. I'm grateful for your life! Thank you so much for being there always when I need you. Love Doreen

2. Edna: To Lyland Tollison
Lyland, we really miss you and are so proud of you serving our country and knowing that even through you are away from Janie we know she is proud also.  Take care while you are in Iraq and please let God be your guide so that He may help you.  We love you

3. Casey: To Fellow blogger and new friend Amber Stokes as she struggles through exams and time crunching projects.
Dear Amber, Your name just keeps ringing in the halls of my mind when I saw the opportunity Susan was giving to send a letter to someone. I just want to encourage you in your studies. I know deadlines and time crunches are a part of life, but knuckle and down and don't look up and you will get it all done. Focus on one thing at a time and let all the other worries of life pass you by. Nothing is as important as what God puts in front of you to do at that exact moment, so ask Him what He wants you to do today and chase after that with all your mind, heart and soul.

It becomes so easy to get distracted from our walk with Christ when we have so many things pulling at our time. I want to just encourage you to take a deep breath and focus on Him first of all. Let the exam paper sit for a moment because in the end you will be better prepared to finish it. It never hurts to give little rewards either to yourself. ;) Sometimes a chapter in that favorite novel is just what keeps me going.

Can I pray for you?

Dear Heavenly Father,
Please be with Amber this week. Give me strength to finish any project and let all the other worries that always seem to crowd in demanding our time be pushed to the side and silenced. Give her grace and peace to step out in faith and know You will be right beside her, whispering wisdom and encouragement to her soul. May she have great peace and the determination to not quit until it is all done. Thank You for her sweet love and witness for You. Bless her this week, God. In Jesus' Name, Amen. I'm always an email away Amber!! Love, Casey.

4. Virginia R: To any soldier who doesn't receive a letter, or to any soldier that just needs to read one.  We all need a connection to home.
To the Loneliest Soldier,
I don't know your name, where you are from, or your age.  I just know that you are what feels like millions of miles from home and sometimes asking yourself, why am I here?  I know that night after night, if you are able to see them, you count stars in the sky or watch
Now you are in a foreign land fighting enemies that you sometimes can't see.  The nights are either too hot or too cold, the days the same.  And though you are surrounded with friends going through the same thing, you all share the same alonenesselse's

5. Leah: I like to write a letter to a soldier. Because my brother is In Iraq right now and I know how hard it is for him to be over there, so I'd like to say thank you to some soldier.
I'd like to tell you thank you for serving. I know it is hard to be away from family and friends, so I just want you to know that I am thinking of you and praying for you. Thank you again! And may God bless you and keep you safe. Love,Leah~

6. Barbara: I've written the letter to my mother who I'm visiting in Portland, OR for Thanksgiving and her 92nd birthday.
What are you doing Thanksgiving?  I'm excited!!  I'm flying to Portland, Oregon to spend Thanksgiving with my mother and  brother . We will be joining my step-brother Bill and sister-in-law Linda for dinner. The day after Thanksgiving we will be celebrating mother's 92nd birthday.  We are so thankful to still have her with us.

My mother is the most special woman in the world to me. She is still very agile and astute. Mother puts me to shame when she gets down on her hands and knees to look inside a cupboard for something she needs.  She has been through a quadruple heart bypass and wears a pacemaker.  She takes all that with a "matter of fact" attitude.  Never complains and still prepares the meals for herself and my brother. I'm so thankful that he lives with her and can watch over her.  She is a woman of remarkable patience and wisdom.  Mother has been widowed twice and still lives in her own home and that's where she intends to stay until God moves her to her heavenly home with him.  Mother is an avid reader and makes weekly trips to the library for a fresh stack of books.  She does have a touch of arthritis and a pinched nerve in her spine that is painful, but she doesn't complain.  She has lost most of her hearing and is helped to hear with the most up to date computerized hearing aids.  We are all so proud of her.

Mother is responsible for bringing me up in the faith.  Many Mother's Day ago I came across this poem, prettily framed, in a little gift store and thought it very appropriate to honor her on Mother's Day.  At that time I was directing choirs in churches, I set the words to the music of "Sunrise, Sunset" from Fiddler on the Roof.  I was able to visit her that Mother's Day and was always invited to sing in her church.  That Sunday I sang this song to her and the other mothers in the congregation.  The words go like this......
My first thoughts of God
Came to my childish mind,
Through songs you sang to me
So long ago in time.
My first desire to meet
My Father God above
Was inspired by your life
Of gladness mixed with love.
My first attempt to trust
My Lord and Savior, Christ,
Was due to wells of joy
I saw spring from your life.
Had it not been for you,
Mother,  I often say,
I may have missed the Life
And never found the Way
(Penny Tanksley)

I've always been thankful that God chose this remarkable lady to be my mom.  I just wanted to share about her with my friends and family on Facebook.  As long as she is still healthy and happy, I pray she lives far past the age of 92. Mama, I cherish you, appreciate you, admire you, and love you.

7. Kate: To a soldier who is serving our country and not with their family at Christmas
To a Soldier whom I admire, I just want to say a quick thank you. Thank you for being willing to serve our country, to fight for it, and to also fight for others freedom. Thank you for being away from your family at anytime but especially at Christmas time when all families should be together. See I 'm in high school and I live on a farm in the Midwest where it snows almost every year for Christmas. I don't know what its like being away from the ones I love the most, especially on the holidays, but you have my utmost respect for fighting for freedom, for loving our country, for loving your family enough to be in a foreign country even at Christmas time. I don't know where you're at, who you are with, what you believe, where you're from, how old you are, what you like but I do know that you are willing to put your life down for humans that you have no idea who they are. You put yourself in danger for people, you sacrifice your time, money, freedom, family, job and many other things that I don't even have any idea about just so others can live better, safer, happier lives. So thank you, Soldier, wherever you are at in the world on this day at Christmas time - or anytime of the year-know that you have my respect for life and know that God loves you and will always be there for you no matter what, in any situation. Thank you again and keep safe.

8. Barbara L: This letter is written to a soldier who is serving at the front of the war action.
Dear Sir: You are brave to be where you are. Even though you may not have had a choice to be there; nonetheless you are brave, indeed.  I cannot imagine the circumstances you are living and working under.  I hope you have the strength of spirit to continue and buddies to be there for you when you need them.  You have the courage to keep going and I admire you so much for all that you are and do.  Being in another culture and language is hard enough.  I hope that the Iraq people near you are not hostile.  We read much about that aspect and I don't understand the hostility when you are there to help them.

We see photos in TIME magazine and TV news of soldiers "being there", doing what is needed whatever it is.  You are applauded for your strength and ability to continue in spite of the ugly things you see around you.  I congratulate you for all the everyday duties you perform that put you in harm's way. Thank you for being you.  I hope you are safe and unharmed.

Best wishes to you and your buddies. You do an incredible job! We support you and thank you so much for your courage and intelligence to keep going.

You are supporting America and Freedom. Take care, stay safe and come home soon.  All the best, Sincerely, Barbara.

9. Christine: To my daughter to let her know how proud I am of her for being the strong, sweet girl that she is.
Dear Joelle, I am so proud of you for all of the hard work that you put in to school, dance and learning at church. You are such a special girl. I am so happy that you are a part of our family. Thank you for everything that you do. Love, Mom

10. Tina: I want my letter sent to my in-laws. I feel guilty for calling them "in-laws". They practically raised me and I married their only son. We have been married for over 30 years. We have suffered many illnesses and deaths...our children's deaths, and yet my in-laws are there to help financially, spiritually and emotionally. I will never be able to pay them back, but at least this letter will be something they can know how much they are loved.
Jessie and Dot,

It feels funny to call you by your given name instead of the usual "Mom and Dad" that I always use. You both have been a true parent to me in all ways. While I am not a child of you marriage union, I am a child that you looked after. You taught me the Bible and gave me your love since I was 13 years old. At that time you had no idea that I would marry your son when I turned only saw a child that was abused, neglected and battered. Such a site was uncomfortable for you to acknowledge. You both had a hard time believing that such evil existed. It did.

When I married your son, Tony, I had no idea what life had in store for us. Unlike most teenagers, we got married because we loved each other, but we didn't know what true love was. It was something that we would learn as we grew toward each other as years and hardships passed. Tony was almost 20 with a 16 year old bride, not so uncommon 32 years ago.

You have been there for us through every trial sent our way. When we had our first child, three years after we were married, it was discovered that Tony had a brain tumor. He underwent surgery, but his pituitary gland was removed. This caused some 100 hospitalizations over the next 15 years.

You both were always there. We never went hungry or without. You made sure we always had a home to live in. I can see how so many people become homeless in this old world, but you made sure that we were not a statistic. You bought us a home, and helped us furnish it. You never thought about how much it was costing you, although you admitted that you sometimes grow angry that things seemed to happen time after time. God understood that anger. He knew that the anger came with love in the center. When the anger went away, the love was there for all to see.

Through the years we almost lost Tony twice. Once in an explosion at work and secondly when he died 5 times in twenty-four hours. We didn't expect this with a "minor" surgery, but we didn't know that he had a blood clotting disorder. We lost our home and everything else, but you were there to help us, to love us and to always keep us grounded in what was important.

Throughout our married lives we have suffered 9 miscarriages. We lost our daughter when she was only 3 days old and you were there for us. Mom, you were the one holding Whittney when she died. I am so happy that you were with her when I couldn't be. As you know we never left her alone. Someone was always by her incubator. Thank you for being with her when she went to be with God.

More recently, Tony recovered from his near death experiences, and I became ill. Fibromyalgia, blood clots and asthma forced me to quit work and file for disability. both are always there for us. It was hard for me in the beginning. I was the one who was always trying to help anyone else, the one always working to make sure that with your help we survived. Depression clouded my thinking, it separated me from everyone. I couldnt' take anymore. I was tired, sick and home sick for Heaven. I was soooo ready to go be with my daughter. However, I had a son, and his family...two beautiful grandchildren. When push came to shove I put one foot in front of the other and carried on. I couldn't have done this without your help.

I look at you today, you both are over 80 years old, and you never stop loving or supporting us. I have been blessed to have known you and I am even more blessed by the love you have shown me over the past 35 years. If being a Christian is being "Christ like" then you certainly are a Christian. It isn't a's a way of life.

I know that God has something special for you when it is your time to be with him. I will miss you, but I know you both will be where you most want to be...with you Savior and Lord, Jesus Christ.

11. Kelly: Wendy - an old friend to remind her of God's love and thank her for her service to her country
Wendy: My dear friend, I want to thank you for serving your country to provide my freedom to believe in God and raise my son in a land built on freedom and opportunities. Know that I am proud of the woman you have become. And, one day, we will sit down together to catch up over a cup of coffee. Always remember that God loves you and is holding you in the palm of His hand no matter where you are and no matter what trials you are going through. He will always be there waiting for you, my friend. Hugs & Blessings, dear one, Kelly

12. Phyllis: I would like to write a letter to my Mom to let her know how much she was loved and appreciated because I took her for granted.  I will write it for myself because you can't mail it for me since she is in Heaven.  I just want to say the things I didn't say when I had the chance.
Dear Mom, I want to let you know how much you mean to me, and how much I loved being your daughter.  You never fussed when I woke you up in the middle of the night when I had a bad dream.  You were willing to guide me back to bed when I went 'sleepwalking' as a child.  You were willing to spend time with me, making cookies or a cake.  I got my love of cooking from you.  Mom, you cooked and cleaned everyday without so much as a thank you, but you never seemed to mind.  You wiped away tears, kissed boo boos and sent me out into the world with a sense of my worth.  I always knew that I was loved.  I grew up in a home where faith was important, and I never heard a cuss word until I went to school.  You taught me to love books as much as you loved books, and encouraged me to read.  You never seemed to mind how many hours I spent under the tree reading a book, or how I got lost in a book and forgot to do a chore.  You taught me that imagination was a good thing, and that stories can transport us anywhere in the world.  You listened to me tell you my dreams and encouraged me to go to school and get my education, telling me that I could do anything I wanted, and being a girl wouldn't hold me back.  You taught me to dream and you taught me to reach for the stars, and to trust in God to meet my needs.  When you died of cancer, a piece of my heart died too.  I'm sorry that I took you for granted all those years.  After you died, I found I no longer had that shoulder to cry on when I was hurting, I couldn't call you up anymore and say, "Mom, I want to come home, and you would always say, "Come home".  I wasn't always the best daughter, but one thing I can say with certainly, you were the best Mother!! I look forward to seeing you in Heaven, and knowing that I can say "I love you so very much, and I am so grateful to God for putting me in your care".  Until we meet again in Heaven, take care and know that I love you.

12. Barb D: my cousin Sue Y
Dear Sue! When I was at the Deaf Conference in Indianapolis this summer, a lady shared a whole stack of books with me!  In the stack was a book by Susan May Warren!  The setting was in Minnesota-my state! (& was so intriguing that I couldn't put it down!) I signed up for Susan's e-mails & she has recently released a new book, which takes place in Wisconsin-your state! I'd like to win Susan's latest book, & she has this contest going where we can write letters to anyone we chose, & they will deliver it! So, here's my letter to you!

13. Jodi: I would like to write this letter to my mother because she always prayed I would have a little girl just like me.  Her prayers were answered and I have a lot of apologizing to do!
Dear Mom, Your prayers for me have been answered.  I am a mature woman with a great husband, beautiful house close to home, a close relationship with the Lord, and a little girl just like me!  After only six years my little Miriam has me wondering daily how it is possible to love someone so much while at the same time wanting to wring her little neck!  I can't express enough how thankful I am for a mother who loved me through the back talk, outright disobedience, and total disregard for everything you wanted for me.  Your unconditional love and prayers it what made me the person I am today.  Now you are a trusted friend who cries with me when my own beautiful daughter looks through me with eyes that can only be saying, "I don't care.  Punish me.  Is that all ya got?"  You laugh with me when you remind me of my own silly disrespectful antics.  My prayer is that I can raise the kind of daughter you did and that some day I have a granddaughter just like her! I love you, Mom! Thank you! Your strong willed daughter, Jo

14. Penny: A Soldier; to say thank you for all the sacrifices they have made to secure our freedoms.
I want you to know that I often think of the great sacrifice you made when you chose to enter the military. I think about the family you've left behind and how much they miss you. Of the comforts you left behind to keep us comfortable here in the USA. During this time of Thanksgiving I want to give you a big THANK YOU. Sincerely, I hope and pray for you to be safe and healthy.  And know there are people thinking about you. Penny A.

15.  Terry mood, my father. His sacrifices went unnoticed when I was child. I took them for granted. Now I want to thank him.
Dad - I'm writing you this letter because I was prompted by a contest to write a letter to someone I had something to say to. This was on my heart.

I just wanted to thank you for all the sacrifices you paid for us kids. My brothers and I really didn't appreciate it when we were younger, but now that I'm grown and have a child of my own, I understand more fully the many things you had to give up so we could have the latest and greatest.

In particular, I'm reminded of how you took out a bank loan just so I could pledge with a sorority. I wasn't thinking about the financial hardship this would be for you...I only thought about myself. You were always doing things like this for me (and all of us). I remember my new oboe I just had to have....and all the payments that went with it. Or my piano. Or my car. it was always something .

It might have taken me a few years to get up to speed on telling you how much I appreciate everything you've done, but here I am. If I give my daughter just half of the commitment and love you gave me...and she'll be the luckiest girl in the world. I love you so much. Jeannie

16. Robin S: To an unknown soldier from Milwaukee, WI.  This man caught up to me outside the cemetery after my cousin's graveside service and handed me the shell casing from the rounds fired. He has no idea what it meant to me.

My cousin Jay Peters had a military funeral in Milwaukee, WI quite a few years ago. You were there; tall, strong, quiet and dignified in your dress uniform.

I sang for the funeral, so I held in my grief until after the graveside ceremony. I think I was the last civilian to leave the site. I hadn't gotten far when I heard you running after me. "Ma'am?" you said.

I turned around and waited for you to catch up. You had something in your hand and held it out to me. "Would you like this, Ma'am?" You put an empty shell casing in my palm. Your eyes were so solemn and earnest.

What would I do with an empty casing? I stared at it as I walked back to the chapel. Empty. Just a shell. The Spirit of God spoke to my heart, "In the casket is the empty shell that used to house your cousin Jay. He's not there. He has come to Me, you'll see him again. Don't be troubled."

Comfort. I laid the casing in my purse and carried it with me for years. Many times it offered me an opportunity to share the certainty we have of eternal life through faith in Christ Jesus.

I wonder; do you know Him? Did you know what it might mean to me to have that casing? Do you have that same hope?

I have many questions about you, your life, your faith, your family, and where you have served your country. I'd like to thank you. Maybe you knew Jay. Maybe there is a record of the honor guard detail from the day of his funeral, and somehow this letter might reach you.  If not, I'll thank you in eternity. Bless you, dear Soldier, and God keep you. Robin J. Steinweg

17. Danielle G: I am writing to the family of a young Marine from our area who was laid to rest today.  He left behind a wife and 3 young children.  I want his family to know they are loved and that Javier did not die in vain.

To the family of Staff Sargeant Javier Ortiz-Rivera:
I thank you for the ultimate sacrifice that you have given.  I am so sorry that we have lost such a wonderful young man, but my heart truly aches for those of you that have been left behind.  I pray that you may find comfort in knowing that Javier's sacrifice is deeply appreciated and that his family is in our hearts and prayers.

18. Abbi: Thank You to a soldier!
Thank you doesn't seem to be a great enough response for all that you have done and are continuing to do for this country. Without you we would have to live lives of fear and constant worry. The tragic thing is we often don't take the time to appreciate all that you are doing for us. We don't acknowledge all the sacrifices you have had to make: a life of safety and security, time with your family and friends, the comforts of home, and many other things. So even though thank you is inadequate, they are the only words I have so, Thank You! Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.” Deuteronomy 31:6

19. Sita H: My parents, Rudolph and Bindya Ramcharan, to let them know how grateful I am that they had the courage to stand as the first-generation Christians in a Brahmin family.

Dearest Mom and Dad, You are my heroes. Because of you and the stand that you took to proclaim Jesus as The Way, the Truth and The life, I can now watch my sons learning and growing in faith growing slowly in intimacy with the One true God.  I know the sacrifices you made but I am so grateful that you will be more than compensated when you see your Saviour. Thank you for all the perseverance in prayer for your children, for persisting in faith and leaving me a legacy to carry on. You are amazing and it hurts that you are so far away. I wish you were closer so that my boys could benefit from your wisdom and faith first-hand. With all my love, thoughts and gratitude, Sita

20. Debbie: I would like to write a letter to my mom and dad. The two neatest people in the world. My parents have stood by me through many surgeries and many loses.
Dear Mom and Dad,
I wanted to write you to let you know how special you are. You have been there for me when life has gone well and when life has been tough. I know that it was not easy to be there every time I had surgery, but you were. You have excepted every foster child we have ever had as if they were your own grandchildren. You were there when Duane broke his back. I felt so alone and then there you were. You were there when our Crystal was in the hospital and you were even there the evening when she died. I don't know how I would have ever gotten threw any of these things especially the loss of our daughter Crystal.

Mom from little on you showed me how to be strong and how to persevere even when times were tough. You taught me to trust the Lord and to let him help in good times and in tough times. You are the strongest and sweetest women I have ever met. When people say how do you it, I reply that I can do it because my mom showed me how. I love to tell them about my mom. You are truly wonderful!

Dad you took us in as if we were your own. I just don't know how you did it. We were not the easiest kids to live with. I had a father who brought me into this world but I had you to be my dad. You have always been there when I needed you. You hate hospitals and yet you always come. If we need anything there you are to help or support us. I truly could not have asked for a better dad. Your the best! Thank you so much for all that you have done for me!! God bless you and keep you in his loving arms. I Love Lots, Debbie

21. April: I would like to share this letter with any soldier that you can send it to. I think that it is so very important to give our soldiers support (whether you agree with the war or not) because they are fighting for our freedom!
I just wanted to let you know that I greatly appreciate your willingness and desire to fight for this country; to fight to keep us safe; to fight to keep us free. You hold a very special place in my heart. During this holiday season, I know that it is hard on you because you miss your family and friends so very much, but please know that my thoughts and prayers are with you; that you are not alone. You are thought of, you are cared for, and you are loved. Thanks for all you do! April

22. Sarah P:  This letter is to my friend. It's to tell her how much I do love and appreciate her even though we are going through a rough time.
Dear J,
It seems like we've known each other forever. I have memories of us that go back to when we were just kids. I have gone through some amazing times with you and the memories make me smile. I always thought I was the one who had to teach the lesson or be the example, but I think you've helped me more than even I know. I've learned to let go and have fun, to stand up for myself, to be outgoing, and where to draw the line. I know I've been holding back with our friendship, I've said I've forgiven you but I'm still hurt. What I realize now is that you deserve an explanation. I feel I have done all the work and you just reaped my benefits. But now I realize that you've taught me to be strong. I have failed to realize that you are going through things of your own, you are learning and growing just like me and God has a plan for the both of us. In times of anger I forget all our good times and just meditate on the bad ones. I forget that you have been one of the best friends I have ever had. Thank you for sticking with me when I have been the one to be cold, and thank you for teaching me how to be a friend. No one is perfect, neither of us are but I thank God that we can forgive each other and move on. You’re my forever friend. Love always, Sarah

23. Alexandra: To a Soldier, thank you for doing what you do
As a child my mom was in the Army Reserve.  I spent one or two weekends a month going to the Reserve Base with her and watching her do her thing as a Drill Sergent.  I thought it was a fun game; meeting for BBQ's at the end of the weekend, having holiday parties and birthday parties.  And when she asked me to write letters to her friends who didn't have kids--men and women I knew, who played puzzles with me or read me stories or just let me climb all over them--I didn't think anything of it. 

And when those people stopped responding, or mentioning their name made my mother cry, it was also something I didn't think much about.  I was young and no one explained to me about War (the first Gulf War in this case). 

As an adult now I try to write letters to soldiers when I can.  I have never met you, but that doesn't factor into things for me.  Maybe you know a little girl who likes to tag after new recruits and badger them about if they like cartoons, like I used to.  Whatever the reason this letter reached you and I hope that you can feel how appreciative I am.

The military isn't for everybody, lord knows I could never do it.  Too argumentative is what they say about me and I guess that's true.  I like doing things my way after all.

But I want to express how grateful I am that you're there at the front lines.  That you're fighting to retain my right to argue as loudly and as often as I can.  I want you to think of home and of things that you love to do, or things that annoy you.  Smile and remain strong and remember--regardless of anything else, you are protecting us all and that is something that is darn fine.

You're Big Darn Heroes, something that too few people remember and something I will never forget.

 24. Annette: A soldier serving our countryDear Hero, You are my hero! I want to thank you so much for your service to our country.  I am so thankful for the freedom that we enjoy as Americans and I appreciate your sacrifices in protecting that freedom.  I am sure that it is very difficult being away from your friends and family, especially this time of year with the holidays approaching.  I just want you to know that you are loved and appreciated.  Thank you so much and I will keep you in my prayers for a safe return to your loved ones.

25.  Robin: Penny Todhunter - For always being there for me during my grief, she is the perfect example of what a true best friend is about.
Penny, So many times we fail to take the time to let someone know how we feel about them. I wanted to take this time to say thanks for standing beside me through the past 8 months. Saying goodbye to a spouse is one of the hardest things we ever have to face. Your support, love and friendship throughout Tony's illness and death means more to me than you will ever know. You knew just when I needed a hug, a prayer, a shoulder to cry on... sometimes just knowing you were there without having to say a word made me feel better. Sometimes God gives us friends for a reason or season and sometimes they are here to stay for awhile and leave footprints on our hearts. You have left footprints on my heart and I am thankful to you for all that you do for me, all that you make me and for the friendship you give to me! God knew what I needed when He sent you into my life, I am glad to call you my best friend and only hope that I can give you back as much of the love, support and friendship that you have blessed me with. I love you!

26. Jeannine: I'd like to write a letter to a soldier because he/she is fighting for our freedom.  I don't have a name or address of a soldier; however, I'm sure it can be sent to any one of the many courageous soldiers out there!
I just wanted to thank you for making me truly proud to be a Canadian.  Your hard work and courage has not gone unrecognized.  You, and the rest of the troops, are in my prayers.

All of you out there make our country great and as long as there are people like you that are willing to make sacrifices, not only our freedom but the feedom of others around the world.  I know there is hope for humanity.
Thank you for serving your country and protecting our most precious gift: freedom!

27. Joelyn: I would like to write a letter to my daughter that passed away 13 years ago this year.  I miss her so very much and I want her to know all that she has missed in some ways, but been a part of in others and to share my love for her and how special she is to me even if she is not on this earth every day.  I do not have an address to send this to her, but feel better having the opportunity to write her this letter.Dear Theresa Marie, My dearest daughter, 13 years ago on August 22nd, you came into this world so unexpectedly.  Your dad and I weren't expecting you until December and there you were, weighing in at 1 lb. 7 oz. and already capturing my heart.

The four months that I was able to spend with you were wonderful.  Even though I was never able to take you home, I was able to cradle you in my arms, kiss your forehead, change your diaper and share you with those that mattered the most in our life.

You were able to meet Grandpa Lubich ( Grandpa Billy.  Both of those men are with you now in heaven along with your namesake, Grandma Lubich and Grandma Billy, who passed away when I was just a toddler.  You have amazing God-Parents as well, Uncle Jeff and my friend Maria are wonderful Catholic individuals and they came and saw you every chance they got.

Your Grandparents love you dearly, there isn't a year that goes by that they don't speak of you with such warmth and love.  They miss you just as much as I do and they want nothing more to have you here with us.

Since you left this earth, I had another daughter, her name is Samantha and just like you she was born early and she spent a lot of time in the hospital.  She came home so very tiny and fragile I was scared to death to even hold her sometimes.

She is now 12 and when I look at her I wonder about you.  What you would like, dislike, what your talents would be and if you would be musically inclined or if you would like sports.  I wonder how you would do in school and what kind of friends you would have.

In a way I am sad that your dad and I are no longer together, but know that he loves you just as much as I do and wishes that you were here to be a part of our lives as much as I do.

There is so much that has happened in my life since you were born and so many things that I wish I could have shared with you on a personal level.  Don't ge me wrong, you are with me in my heart each day, and I know you are in a good place as God's angel.  He must have needed you up in heaven and you needed a place to go to heal and become whole.

Each year at Christmas I grieve your death however I also celebrate in the fact that you are not hurting and you are looking down upon me and your family each day smiling at all of us and each day I look up into the sky and I see your smiling face in the clouds and the sun. I miss you terribly and love you so very much. Love always, Mom

28. Katherine: My daughter because I love herI want to thank you so much for all the love and time you devote to me and your daddy. We love you with all our hearts and can't wait to spend eternity with you.

29.  Dominic: My good friend Joey who enlisted in the Navy two years ago. He felt trapped by debt, alcoholism and one dead-end job after another. He took a step to change his life but still isn't taking his life seriously. As my friend, I'm taking a stand for him.
Let me first acknowledge you for taking your life into your own hands, for the strength and courage to leave your mom, your brother and your friends to seek a better life for yourself.

Allow me to speak directly. You're like my brother. I don't have many acquaintances, only old friends whom I'm loyal to. I might be wrong about some of this stuff, but we've been friends because we deal with some of the same shit. And besides, I'd rather go too far or be wrong than not make a stand.

I believe in you. I’m here for you. I’m on a quest to be something, to make a difference, to bring honor to my people, before it's too late. I'm asking you to realize your power and rise up with me. Your friend for life, Dominic

30. Deidre: To all U.S. Soldiers 
To all the soldiers who are giving of themselves to serve our country. Thank you for all that you do. Blessings to your families who worry about you and miss you. May they be filled with the warmest of feelings even though you are not home to share the holidays with them. Peace and joy to you all.

31.Samantha: To a Soldier needing a friend.I just want to start off by saying I am not gonna say I know how it feels.  Because unless you were there, you will never truly know.  Many of us wonder what it's like but we are too afraid to ask.  It takes alot to be a a soldier: pride, courage, strength, and above all faith.  Faith is what keeps alot of people going in this world these days and without we would just have chaos because no one would believe in anything.  I remember when the Twin Towers were hit.  I was in 5th grade and outside playing.  We were all rushed in and watched the news all day in awe.  People were scared and alot of people died that day for someone elses god.  I wonder all the time what the world would be like if that never happened.  Would there be a different war???  Would there be no soldiers in Iraq.  We will never know.  We never got the chance to know.  But on a last night I wanna say thank you for what you are doing.  You may think that if you were to die in combat that only your family and friends would be in grief.  But you should know that the whole world cries when one of our own dies.  Thats why we are called the United States. Sincerely, Samantha

32. Samantha: To my Grandpa Richard, who was like a father to me.

Dear Grandpa, How is it up there? Is it everything like they say it is.  I am glad knowing that you feel better now and no longer have to suffer.  I really don't think you deserved to die so soon.  No one deserves to die of cancer.  

I remember when you first got sick and mom and I came to take care of your for a little while in August.  You were the same old joke making old fart.  It made me sad to see you on oxygen.  We had to make sure you took your pills because you would forget and mom helped you take baths.  Remember how mom left a few days before I did, and my boyfriend came and picked me up so he could meet you.  He drove 5 hours just to do that.  He also got a flat tire half way through the trip. The doctors said it could have been something linked to the stuff they sprayed during Vietnam that killed alot of soldiers since it was a Blood Cancer but they never were able to figure it out.

I remember they day before you passed away.  I was at home and I was watching my boyfriends disabled sister while his parents were in town.  My dad called and told me that you were put back in the hospital on December 1st.  I wanted to go really bad and when I got off the phone with him I started to cry.  At 9:15 a.m. I got another call from my dad letting me know that you passed away that morning.  I talked to my mom later that day and she told me that last thing you said to her was, "I am trying and I love you."

Well grandpa I had my daughter 2 months ago and I really wish that you could have met her.  She is really beautiful and I know she would have loved you as much as I do.

I am gonna go.  Silly me im crying thinking about you.  I think about you alot.  I hope your having a great time and please watch over me and Bethany. Love Always, Your Granddaughter Samantha

33. Erin E: Anyone serving in the Armed ForcesEveryone back home is so proud of you and think of you ever day.  We wish you a safe and happy holiday.  Thank you so much for all that you do for us back home.

34. Honeybee: My letter would be to my late husband who died on Feb. 22, 2001.
Honey, I miss you so much. we had 36 wonderful years together. You gave me so many thoughtful words, hugs, love, and treated me like a queen. I have so many memories to keep me company until we meet again and be together forever. The special dinners and dances just for us to snuggle and tell each other what we mean to each other. Since you've been gone, I still feel your presence at night giving me comfort. Thanks for all those amazing years together and for the many more we will have when I come to you in heaven. I love you!

35. Laura: Daddy because I miss him so and there are so many things I wish I had said before he passed.
Daddy, You are my hero.  You embody all that a man, husband and father should be.  I looked for those qualities in my husband and found them. 

Thank you for all of your sacrifices for our country and for our family.  Please know that they never went unnoticed. 

I love you and am so very proud of you always.  During your battle with colon cancer, you taught me how to face adversity with bravery and diginity.  I admire your strength and courage.  While I am thankful that you are not suffering, I miss you so much and wish you were here for just one more hug, kiss and "I love you". Much love ALWAYS! Sissy

36. Amanda: Enemy. Because I still have faith in them.
Dear Enemy, You've done many things which are not right. You have gossiped, lied, and told secrets. There are things that you've said that have hurt people. You have done some low down things.You aren't where you need to be. You aren't far from where you need to be. It's a constant journey with many ups, downs, hills, and mountains. You have to press on and never stop. You determine your future.What do you want to do for this world? How do you want to be remembered?

37. Sarah B: I'd like to send a letter to a soldier. I live near a military base and have had my eyes opened to the struggles and triumphs of the men and women willing to serve and protect their country.
It's so easy for me to take things for granted. A safe home. Freedom to worship and make my own choices. The opportunity for my children to get a good education. I know that none of these things happen by accident. I want to thank you. Thank you for your service and sacrifice. Thank you for your willingness to spend time away from your family in order to protect mine. What you do is invaluable. So, on the days when you feel homesick, and you wonder if anyone back home appreciates what you're doing - we do. Thanks. May God Bless you richly and bring you home again safe and soon.

38. Susan S: i would like to write a letter to my husband, because i miss himDear Tony, I love you!  I miss you! Love, Susan

39. Suzanne L: I'd like to write a letter to an anonymous soldier.
Dear Soldier, Thank you for doing the tough job that many of us Americans don't have the courage to do. Thank you for putting your life on the line each day, so I can have freedom in mine. Thank you for being far away from your family, so I can be at home with mine. Thank you for all that you sacrifice for me, an individual you don't even know. Suzanne

40. Amber: My husband.  We own our own contracting business, and today I saw him in a different light than ever before (we work together as well).  He has worked so hard, sun-up to sun-down for myself and our three kids.  And the job we are on now is very dangerous.  I'm the coward, and he was so brave.  He does it for us, not because he likes to.  But because he is willing to do whatever it takes to provide for us, and it means more to me now than it ever did before.Dear Michael, We get so caught up so often in the daily routine, in the "I love you's", and I forget how much you sacrifice and have sacrificed for us.  I am so blessed to have you in my life and have taken you for granted more than I wish to admit.  Please know that I am absolutely grateful for everything you do, everyday.  I have my prince charming.  What better man, then one who would sacrafice himself in everyway for you.  And that, as I realize now, is what you have done for me and our sweet kids.  Just a thank you....and I love you.  From me to you.. All my love, Amber

41. Jacob: All American Soldiers Past & PresentThank you kindly for all of your service and sacrifice. Through this holiday season I just want you to know that you are not alone and you are in the thoughts and prayers of the hearts of Americans. We could not do ANYTHING in our daily lives without your dedication and your work is not in vain. You are preserving a nation and tradition for generations to come. Thank you.

Please visit the Sons of Thunder contest page to read the amazing and touching family history stories submitted during the Sons of Thunder (book 1 in the Brothers in Arms Collection) contest. It was an honor to read them. Enjoy.