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  • Writer's pictureMj Pettengill

Veterans Day: A Letter to my Son

A Humanitarian Mission
A Humanitarian Mission

Letter writing is a lost art. I take it seriously, and I practice it often. For me, it’s a source of journaling, healing, validation, and transformation.

Some letters never get sent, while others do. Some recipients are amongst the living; others are no longer on the earth plane. A few notes are typed, printed, and mailed, and many are e-mailed. The important thing is that my thoughts and intentions are expressed.

I have a solid set of rules, which include waiting and reviewing after settling. The most dangerous thing one can do is type in a fit of rage and hit send. Don’t get me wrong. It is therapeutic and healthy to externalize thoughts that would otherwise tear us up inside. This is when you expel negative emotions for that reason alone, allowing space and time for the effects of releasing to emerge. Think before you share.

Since my son chose to have a military career, I have become accustomed to his absence. I learned how to hold him near and dear to me while he is away. I don’t write a letter on Veterans Day every year, but I have written enough. The following is one that I wish to share.

I would like to take this time to honor all veterans, past and present, today and every day. My son, father, uncles, and ancestors down the line… I honor you.


Dear Miles,

The day you were born, I held your tiny hand in mine, embraced you close to my heart, and promised to love and protect you with my life. It took some time to take in the miracle of your birth, something that continues to resonate. The wonder of carrying a child within your womb and then bringing life into the world is unrivaled.

I sang you to sleep every night and in between, simply because I know that music transcends. I wanted you to imprint this love in your soul to carry with you throughout all of your days.

I wondered why you were awake at night, not crying or seeming to require any of the basic needs of an infant. I sat with you in the rocking chair while you looked around at the world, taking it all in.

One such night, in the first days, while still at my parents’ house, your grandfather heard me singing to you in the early morning hours. He came into the room, and I mentioned that I couldn’t understand why you didn’t sleep. He smiled and told me that this was a time when we were getting to know each other. This wisdom carried me through countless nights with all of my children. I no longer felt that exhaustion on such a profound level. I was thankful for the opportunity that would not be present again. It was these nights that we did get to know one another; the foundation of a lifetime.

When you were two years old, you were convinced that there were clowns in the woods. I sat with you and looked out the window, trying to calm your fears. You believed in the clowns, so it was my responsibility to make you feel safe. You placed your trust in me, and soon you were able to sleep soundly again.

As the years passed, we spent meaningful time together, all of us learning, growing, and strengthening bonds. I marveled at your fresh perception, your vibrant life that called to my own creative soul. Together we learned to have the patience to seek and gather ideas and live authentically.

We paused and sifted through endless possibilities as we traveled along this road. When we stumbled through difficult circumstances, we knew the other was nearby, staying with it, unwilling to lose spirit and carrying each other from one place to the other.

I have reached a level where no yearning is allowed; instead, I call upon fulfillment. The day that I shed a tear while watching you amongst nine hundred other sailors singing “Anchors Aweigh” was the day that I saw you become a great man.

I often visualize you as that sweet boy running with your brother and sister on the mountain top of your childhood. You wore the Batman suit so well. In my mind, I still tuck you in at night. I cherish the memories of building and living the farm of our dreams. I honor how you stepped up to be the man of the house when it was significant to do so.

Today is Veterans Day. I respect and admire you as my son—an upstanding young man and a proud veteran. I love you.


Friendship of Salem
"Friendship of Salem" (my son, relaxed, way up high).

(Journal: Periwinkle)



Thanks for sharing this.

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