Speaking of cards, Dan, as you might imagine, receives a tremendous amount of mail. Since the first days after we learned he had been hurt, letters and care packages have poured in from around the country, week after week. At first, they came from our local community and people that Dan had grown up with. Soon though, the circle widened to friends of friends and even perfect strangers. In the last four months, Dan has received hundreds if not thousands of letters.
We've read every one. In the early months, my parents and I would read them to each other, saving the best to read aloud to Dan. More recently, he's taken over that duty. The messages come long and short, silly and serious. They come in both type-face and crayola. They come from World War II vets and pre-schoolers and everyone in between. Some people, many of whom we've never met in real life, write week after week to update Dan on their lives in the hope of providing some amusement. Those of you out there know who you are, and your efforts are genuinely appreciated.
Entire elementary school classes have written Dan. These often provide the best laughs, and usually come illustrated, like the letter we got from one boy who wrote at Halloween to wish Dan a speedy recovery, and enclosed a wonderfully rendered picture of a tombstone with the words "R.I.P. Lt. Dan" scrawled on the front. Dan has had that one on his wall ever since.
Or these other gems from America's schoolchildren (you can't make this stuff up!):
"I would one day like to join the military, but first I have to
complete elementary school" - Marc
"I saw your picture you look fantastic. I have one annoying brother
that hits me but I don't care. He gets in trouble." - Adyson
"I haven't ever written a letter to someone that I didn't know, but
congratulations. You're the first one!" - Nayelli
"I saw you in the picture and you look awesome just like me. I bet we have the same personality." - Your awesome friend, Luis
And Dan's personal favorite:
"I hear that you won't be going back to being a soldier anymore. I'm thinking that you probably don't want to go back right? Because you might die! And we all know that dying isn't fun." - Nelson
Plenty of adults have also shared their warmth and good humor with Dan. Ms. Carolyn Swavely and her posse of South Carolinian grandmas have kept up a steady flow of letters and cards. So many, in fact, that if any executives of Hallmark are reading this blog, you should send these ladies a thank-you note -- I think they're single-handedly keeping your audio greeting-card line in business.
Carolyn in particular likes to write letters, many of which we find pretty funny. Here's one of the best (Carolyn, I hope you don't mind -- this was just too good not to share!) (click on the letter to see it in larger font if you're having trouble with the text size):