Dec. 5, 2005: Readers Respond Quickly To Request To Write The Troops in Iraq

Whoa! Ask and you will receive. A few weeks ago, I suggested you might want to write the men and women of Georgia’s 48th Brigade Combat Team in Iraq during the holiday season and thank them for their sacrifices. Your response has been overwhelming. The troops are going to get a lot of mail because of you.

I have heard from individuals, civic clubs, churches, schools, hospitals, business groups and even a group of jail inmates, all pledging to send as many cards and letters as possible to let their fellow Georgians know that they are appreciated and offering prayers for their safe return.

More individuals have written than I have the space to list, although one of my favorites came from Allan Hytowitz, a self-styled “Jewish kid” from Alpharetta. He has sent members of Charlie Company, 1/121st Infantry out of Gainesville, a six-and-a-half-foot Christmas tree, complete with decorations. Allan says now he is no longer a “Christmas tree virgin.” Don’t let the ACLU know, Allan. That kind of stuff just confuses them.

The 2,300-member Cobb Association of Realtors has undertaken a campaign to see that all of its members write the troops of the 48th. Liz Owens, who is spearheading the effort for the association, says it is a small gesture, given what the troops are doing for us. I think it is huge. So will the troops.

The Metro Rotary Club of Savannah, one of the most active civic clubs on God’s green earth, has told me they are undertaking a letter-writing campaign. So is the staff at Phoebe Putney Hospital in Albany.

Bob Fremin, a Great American, heads up the Marietta chapter of H.O.G.S., a group of Harley-Davidson owners with big bikes and big hearts. Fremin’s members have been long associated with fund-raising for the Georgia Council of the USO, and he promises that the H.O.G.S. will be equally successful with their letter-writing campaign to the men and women of the 48th in Iraq. I bet they will. (You think I’m going to argue with a group of bikers?) I did promise Fremin that in appreciation for the H.O.G.S.’ efforts, I would go on a bike tour with them this spring as long as I can sit in a sidecar. Pray for me.

The 78 fifth-graders at Macedonia Elementary School in Canton are in the process of writing the troops, says their teacher, Angel Rumble, and Terri Hyatt says her classes will, too, although she didn’t tell me where her school is. That’s okay. The troops will know. The 48th also needs to be on the lookout for cards and letters from Cindy Shumacher’s first-graders in Woodstock, from Pace Academy in Atlanta and the eighth graders in Elke Silve’s class at St. John the Evangelist in Hapeville. Also, Ellen Jones and the sixth-graders in Oconee County are writing. The war is up close and personal to Ms. Jones. She lost a former student in Iraq. The women of the Chestnut Grove Baptist Church in Grayson, near Lawrenceville, are sending letters, as are many members at Northside United Methodist Church in Atlanta.

One of the most poignant notes came from a group of inmates in the Cobb County jail. Addressed to Brig. Gen. Stewart Rodeheaver and meant for all the troops, one inmate said, “I was wallowing in self-pity when I saw the column and realized I had no reason to.” He said that one day he would be released, but some of the troops “may not make it home to their family and friends.” The inmates — 14 in all — thanked the troops “white, black, red, yellow or brown” who represent “the red, white and blue” and assured the general that they would continue to pray for the soldiers “with all our heart, soul, strength and might.” Is this a great country or what?

As I write these words, the responses are still rolling in. I thank you from the bottom of my heart. You have made my Christmas. More importantly, you have made the holidays a little more bearable for the brave men and women of Georgia’s 48th Brigade Combat Team in Iraq. Bless you, one and all.