By Pat Centner,* AFAJ staff writer
February 2002 – When the continuing anthrax scare shut down AFA’s last potential option for sending letters to service personnel overseas, we were forced to suspend our Dear American Soldier letter-writing campaign. Angie Foley heard our announcement on American Family Radio and was heartbroken. You see, Angie’s dad is in service to our country, and she knows how much it means to service men and women to receive mail, not only from family, but also from anyone who offers a word of encouragement and support.
Angie says after hearing the sad news on the radio, she was driving along and thought to herself, “There must be a way we can get some of these letters to our service guys and gals.” She hit on the idea of contacting the family relations director at her local Air National Guard base to ask if it would be possible to send some of the letters through them. The director agreed to talk with AFA about the project and Angie excitedly called me and suggested that I contact the director.
I did so, and the fact that our letters had already been opened and processed made the director confident enough to agree to ship a number of them to men and women in the area of conflict overseas. I immediately began to go through five large boxes containing thousands of letters, hand-picking those with a variety of content and from states all over the nation. I packaged and mailed them to the director.
A couple of weeks later, I was listening to my phone messages at the office when I heard a familiar, excited voice. It was Angie Foley, and the message she left was amazing.
It seems that when the letters from AFA were received overseas, they were spread on a table. Soldiers gathered and scrambled to grab one or two for themselves. After a moment, one soldier gasped in astonishment, “Oh my gosh, you’re not going to believe this, but this letter is from my daughter!”
A miracle? You be the judge. Angie’s father was there when it happened, and he says the soldier dad and everyone with him was awestruck and moved to tears of disbelieving joy. Angie’s dad also said that the soldier now carries the special letter tucked safely in his pocket wherever he goes.
Our God is such a loving, compassionate Father, and though we as mere mortals can never know His mind, my heart wants to believe this was nothing short of a miracle. You see, I know how many boxes I went through and how many letters I read before I chose the ones that were actually sent. The odds that this young lady’s letter, chosen from thousands of letters, would find its way across the sea and into the hands of her father have to be off the chart. But God’s amazing grace made it possible. And we praise Him that we can tell this encouraging, uplifting story during a time when our nation is grieving for the thousands of lives lost at the World Trade Center, as well as praying for our loved ones who have gone to war.
A few short days after the first letters were mailed, we received a prayer request from Chaplain (Capt.) Aaron D. Nowland at Ft. Hood, Texas. He asked that we pray for our military personnel and wanted to know if we had religious tracts or other encouraging materials we could send. To make a long story short, we were able to work with Captain Nowland to send all our letters to his base for processing and later distribution overseas!
The Dear American Soldier campaign has now resumed, so if you’d like to send a letter to our service personnel, you can do so in one of two ways. Send a letter to: Dear American Soldier, c/o American Family Association, P. O. Drawer 2440, Tupelo, MS 38803.
Letters from groups should not be folded or put in individual envelopes. Instead, please enclose all of them in a large envelope or box to expedite handling.
* Pat Centner, Journal staff writer, coordinates AFA’s Dear American Soldier Campaign.