Wednesday, January 04, 2006


A Letter of Thanks


I recently was honored by a dinner out from many of my co-workers at Keane, Inc. ( I abandon my normal reticence from revealing actual identities, and mean to refer to the company by name, if only to emphasize my pride and appreciation. They’ve been great to me, and the generosity of spirit and commitment of support from local, as well as corporate decision-makers, has been overwhelming.


They are an international consulting company, headquartered in Boston, and have been a very strong supporter of the U.S. Military, particularly during the recent period since 9/11 and the commencement of the Global War on Terror. Their benefits to and support for Guard and Reservist employees has been exemplary, and unwavering.


As a publicly traded entity, company leadership needs to pass any change or increase in benefits passed a Board of Stockholders, who would ordinarily be expected to maintain a strong focus on a healthy bottom line. That this company continues to improve Guard and Reserve employee benefits to better offset lengthy activations and deployments, is a testament to company leaders and their stockholders. My hats off to all.


I make mention of my gratitude to underscore another blessing that came my way via my employer, but from a very special person. A staff member happened to have a very young daughter, let’s call her Lisa, visiting the Corporate Headquarters, and she found out that the Company President was sending me a letter welcoming me back from Iraq and thanking me for my service. Already in the habit of sending cards of encouragement to soldiers overseas, Lisa wanted to make and send along a card of thanks and a photo, and asked her Mom to include it with the President’s letter.


On the evening of the dinner with my colleagues, I was presented with both messages. I was touched profoundly. This has happened so many times, with the overwhelming support we who serve have received from our neighbors, our friends, our local businesses, even strangers who so often express such gratitude for our service.


Our Admin Specialist, herself a woman of great generosity who helped Mrs. Dadmanly and I in so many ways, told me that the girl’s Mom said Lisa often wonders if the soldiers to whom she sends her notes of encouragement receive them, or enjoy their contents.


I know the answer to that. Our failures to repay these many kindnesses more often reflect fatigue, or lack of time, or even a natural reluctance to acknowledge all the praise that so often accompanies each card from a stranger or package from afar. Some of us never developed good habits of saying “thanks,” at least not in any formal way with a card or letter in reply. I think now on what it might have meant to send a little card to some of the more tender hearts that sent a simple greeting my way.


And yet, I can be so lazy with what I mean to do, and let my good intentions slumber. When I finally worked my way around to send a note of thanks to Lisa, I felt this rush of feeling about all of it, the outpourings, the gratitude, the gifts, the praise, all that we’ve been heaped with in the past 18 months. I first wrote her the following, which sounded a lot more like a message for all the adults who are part of this great American embrace of her men and women in uniform.


(I sent Lisa a much simpler, less adult, and perhaps less political note of thanks, based on some very wise feedback from Mrs. Dadmanly. But I send along this note of thanks to everyone else, because it really speaks about all of you, as well.)


Dear Lisa,


I was very surprised and pleased with the card you sent along for my welcome home from my employer. At the same time I received your card, I also received a very nice letter from our company President. Do you know something? As nice as it was to get a letter from the President, it meant ever so much more to receive your very nice message. Thank you very much!


Your Mom must be very proud of you. I don’t think very many young women your age are as attentive and concerned about our service men and women overseas.


Lauren, even if I am the first soldier to write you, you need to know what a wonderful blessing you give to a soldier so far from home with every note or card you send. It is hard being away from home, but something that definitely makes it easier are the lovely cards and letters we get from so many wonderful people at home. There are sometimes so many, that we don’t have much time to answer each and every one.


Don’t worry, though. You are part of a tremendous outpouring of love and support, and we who are in harm’s way are reminded with each letter, what a great country we serve and what a proud and heroic people are our fellow Americans. Know for sure that by your efforts, you help boost the spirits and lift the hearts of all the lives you touch with your kindness.


And something more. No matter what you hear, no matter how much anger and upset are a part of what people say about Iraq, the men and women who serve in the armed forces don’t make the decisions about where they go or what they do. They follow orders, they serve, they do their jobs, they say goodbye to their families for a time, and they put their lives on the line for their nation and its people. Good people like you and your Mom.


They do this because, even if it’s hard sometimes to understand the why, they want a world where people can be free, and safe, and not have to worry about dangers that are real or bad people who do wrong things to get what they want. We don’t always know how we’ll be asked to serve, or what will happen, but we know that freedom isn’t free and that we all need to do our part to help preserve the greatest country on earth. You are a very important part of that effort, too.


God bless you and your family,




P.S. If you or your classmates are ever looking for additional ways to help our soldiers, I encourage you to ask your Mom to check out Soldiers’ Angels, a non-profit organization that has sprung up to provide a clearinghouse for supporting our soldiers. They can be found online at


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