Campaign sends letters to overseas troops
When Cathy Meskel looks at the stars at night, she says, she feels a connection to all the U.S. soldiers abroad she has written to throughout her life.”My purpose is to make sure no person goes without mail. To hear back from them, it’s incredible,” Meskel said. Her most recent letter-writing campaign, S.O.S. Support our Soldiers, has delivered 8,800 typed letters to soldiers overseas since January 2003. Most of the letters go to servicemen and women in Iraq or Afghanistan, although they could be sent anywhere. Excerpts from some of the responses she has received are re-printed in this story. “It’s not how you feel about the war and how you stand. The issue is that there’s men and women over there, and you need to support them, regardless,” said Meskel, a 20-year resident of Rifle and owner of Nola’s Ark, a pet store in town.In her letter to U.S. servicemen and women, Meskel describes her life in Colorado, her family and her appreciation for their commitment to the country. She also includes either a St. Michael’s or a St. Christopher’s medallion as a reminder that she prays for them, she said.”Thank you so much for reaching out to us. You should have seen the troops line up after midnight Mass to receive your gifts. I am wearing the medallion of St. Michael even now. You are making a difference, I am proof of that.” – Capt. Clay Worley wrote in a response to MeskelMany soldiers depend on mail from the United States as a lifeline to home, Meskel said. “It’s not very often that a deployed military service member gets mail. For those of us whom are lucky enough to have a family back home, we know how much a little letter can brighten our day. Now, because of the kindness of a few complete strangers, a smile has been brought to many faces.” – 59 Marines of the HMH-464 Flight Line.Throughout her campaign, Meskel has made meaningful friendships with soldiers, one of whom she considers her adopted sister. The bond helps to keep morale high, she said. “There are no words to explain how delighting it is to receive a letter from a family that is there for you in such a way without even knowing them. Families like yours only help bring up the spirits, faith and hope in every soldier.” – Jennifer Bryan, 133rd Military Police CompanyA lifelong supporter of the U.S. military, Meskel also wrote to troops during the Gulf War. As a child, she wore a Vietnam prisoner-of-war bracelet, without taking it off, for seven years. Meskel asks soldiers in her letter for photographs to add to her “Wall of Honor,” a collage she keeps at her store.”It’s wonderful to know there are people just like you in the world that support our soldiers. That makes me and everyone else here work that much harder. Could you send me a picture of your family so I may hang it on my wall with the pictures of my family?” – Sgt. Michael KellyPeople ask Meskel when she plans on stopping the letters, to which she replies, “Never.””I got one of your letters with the medal in it. I was deeply moved. I look at the stars every night and dream of home.” – Douglas W. Harlin==========================================Writing to the troopsWHAT: S.O.S. Support our Soldiers, a letter-writing campaign to U.S. soldiers abroad.CONTACT: To make donations to the campaign, contact Cathy Meskel, 100 E. 11th St., Rifle, CO 81650, 625-3868, firstname.lastname@example.org. Meskel also welcomes new addresses of servicemen and women abroad.==========================================
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