∏ May is National Military Appreciation Month. Somehow, some way, all our lives are touched by someone who has served or is currently serving in a branch of the US Military. This month, I would like to highlight A Million Thanks. The goal of A Million Thanks is to provide support to service members and their families for as long as the United States has a military. This organization was started in 2004 by then–15-year-old Shauna Fleming with the goal of sending 1,000,000 letters of thanks and appreciation to US Military serving overseas. To date, A Million Thanks has distributed nearly 10,000,000 letters to US troops stationed around the world.
A letter can be so powerful. A note penned as a simple thank-you can turn into so much more for both the sender and receiver. I don’t know about you, but I just love to read about pen pal stories that evolve beyond that first letter!
I adore the story about Rachel, an elementary teacher whose goal was to improve her students’ communication skills through letter-writing to soldiers and who wound up with the pen pal of her dreams. Another favorite of mine is Jen. Her letter—out of hundreds anonymously sent through a community service project to soldiers serving overseas—landed in the hands of her now-husband Jeffrey. You can’t help but admire Sophie, a second-grader who turned her class assignment into a letter friendship that resulted in a trip to meet her pen pal in person. Livi’s story gives me chills every time I read it. When a friend was concerned a staff sergeant serving overseas did not get enough contact from home because he had few family members, Livi sent an email that ended many letters later with them falling in love.
I am in awe of the military correspondence stories of friendship and love that grow from a simple letter. Not all letters turn into stories, but remember that feeling when you open your mailbox and see a handwritten letter. It’s the same for those serving in our military branches when they receive your letters of thanks and appreciation. Take a chance, check out A Million Thanks. Maybe your letter will spark a bond.