Letter to a Soldier Overseas

By Mackenzie L.

This one-shot was inspired by a real letter that I wrote on my 21st birthday to an anonymous US troop. My friend and I decided to write inspirational letters to our troops to thank them for standing up for our country. I was rereading my letter the other day, wondering what the man who received it thought while he was reading it, and an idea came to my mind for a possible fanfic.

Dear Soldier,

I am twenty-one years old today. Perhaps this is a vain way to begin a letter, but I have chosen to begin mine this way.

In writing class we are told "to begin every composition with something that will catch our reader's attention." So, Dear Soldier, you must let me know... Did it work? Do I have your attention?

Many would call me a "young woman." This is something I have been called since I was fourteen or fifteen years of age, and yet it has remained the same to the day of my twenty-first birthday. But this, I would say, is appropriate. Looking back, I can safely say that I do not feel any older now than I did then. However, passing into this age has extinguished my last excuse by which to call myself a child. At eighteen, I was legal. At twenty, I was no longer a teenager. And now, at twenty-one, I have no other milestones left to protect me.

I do not wish to wear my age like a mask. Beneath this age I am like any other young woman, and beneath this young woman, I will admit, I am still a child.

The clock that sits by my bed is digital, but sometimes I swear that I can hear it ticking. I have been given so little time to grow up. I may as well prolong my childhood for as long as God will allow.

Time must go by very slowly for you, Dear Soldier. Or perhaps I am entirely wrong, and each second passes at light-speed. Either way, do not wish to change time. Instead, let it take its course, and let it take you with it.

If I, the young woman who has just turned twenty-one, can accept the pace that time has chosen, then you, Dear Soldier, should certainly find it in your heart to have mercy on time as well.

I must tell you something more about young women. To us, a soldier will always be a handsome prince on horseback, drawing his sword to each enemy he encounters in the hopes of protecting his country. He bears the patriotic spectrum and bends the forces of nature, adding victories and medals to a never-ending list that brings him both pride and popularity alike. To many young women there is nothing more romantic than a soldier in uniform, a man who knows how to stand tall in the face of danger. Do you see yourself this way, Dear Soldier?

I must confess that with my coming of age, I have found new wisdom which tells me that a soldier cannot always be the emblem of heroic perfection. Beneath this façade, that soldier is just a man like any other—and beneath that man, perhaps, he is a child . . . just like me.

And this, Dear Soldier, is nothing to be ashamed of.

If you are like me, you will cling to your child-self, and listen to what it has to say, and soothe it when it cries. You may desire to always be strong for others and for your country—and that you can be—but in those times when your inner child is not so strong, you must be strong for him alone before you can be strong for everyone else.

Thank you from the bottom of my heart, for standing up for America, my beloved home.

God bless you, always, Dear Soldier.