DEAR READERS: Because today is Valentine's Day, I thought you might enjoy reading some of the 5 million messages of love and support sent to our men and women in the military during the Christmas holidays via OperationDearAbby.net. Those "love letters" warmed my heart, as I know they will yours as well. Read on:
FROM RHONNIE IN TEXAS: "I know things must be hard for you, being far from home and missing the friends and family you depend on for comfort. I know that when you signed on, you knew you could end up in an unfriendly place and would be gone for long periods of time. You knew this, yet you did it anyway. That selfless act says much of your character, your strength and your courage.
"You're probably homesick, as are your family and friends for you. You are loved and appreciated by more than only your friends and family. You have a strong nation behind you that wishes you home soon, whether you be in the heat of the desert or the cold and snow. Be safe, and thank you."
FROM SHARON IN SANFORD, MICH.: "Thank you for your service to our country. I pray that everywhere you go, and in everything you confront, that you will be given a special wisdom. It is my heart's desire that truth and freedom be strengthened, and flourish, and all error manifested and dissolved."
FROM ROBYN G., THE WOODLANDS, TEXAS: "Thank you for all of your sacrifices and hardships. I want everyone over there fighting the good fight to know that America is thankful, even if we don't write all the time or send packages. We are here for you and will be here for you when you come home. :) Love and prayers."
FROM LOUISE IN LEWISVILLE, OHIO: "You may find it hard to understand that someone you don't even know is thinking about you. I am a mother of three and was an Army wife. You all are near and dear to my heart. Know that someone is praying that you come home safe and sound, that someone needs you to know you are not forgotten. Finish your job, make the world a better place and come home soon."
FROM BECKY IN EDWARDSVILLE, ILL.: "Thank you for volunteering, and thank you for hanging in there during the tough times. There's no doubt we have the best sailors, soldiers, airmen, Marines and National Guard in the world, and you make us very proud. I'll continue to pray for your safety and hope you soon have a happy voyage home."
FROM ASHLEY IN MERRITT ISLAND, FLA.: "Find strength in the small things, laugh every chance you get, and know that you're missed and we pray every day for your safe return. Never-ending courage deserves never-ending gratitude. Thank you so much for all your sacrifices."
FROM "MIKEY" IN PAYSON, ARIZ.: "Thank you a million times for the job you are doing in that distant location. My thoughts and prayers are with you. I am a senior citizen and understand why you are there. And although some in this country disagree with why you are there, we all agree that you should come home soon. Nevertheless, while you are there, we recognize that you are fighting the good fight, and hope your service ends soon. 'Thank you' seems an inadequate phrase for what should be said for your brave service. We all love you and hope you are reunited with your family as soon as possible."
READERS: I know many of you have plans for tonight that include candlelight and flowers. This is a time when our members of the military deployed far from home acutely feel the absence of their loved ones. So, please, go to OperationDearAbby.net and send a message telling them they are in our hearts. Happy Valentine's Day, everyone!