To and From Home

With the holiday season upon us, many loved ones are spending days apart, overseas and in the armed forces. But communicating to and from home has never been easier with the emergence of high-speed Internet, e-mail and instant messaging.

I recently received an e-mail from a friend about sending Christmas cards to our troops. When I realized they were online Christmas cards, I began to think about how the Internet has changed our lives so much since my grandparents, parents, and even in my lifetime.

With a click of a button, messages are instantly sent to loved ones half way around the world, which is worlds apart from World War II and even Operation Desert Storm. This year companies like Xerox and support services such as Operation Dear Abby have web sites devoted to sending free Christmas cards to anonymous men and women in our military – including soldiers that may not have family at home to receive greetings from.

Several weeks ago, while rummaging through some old family boxes, I stumbled across literally hundreds of letters dating back to World War II. My grandfather fought in World War II and the Korean War, and hand-written letters were the only form of communication back to his family in Michigan. Amazingly, there was a letter addressed to my grandmother for every single day my grandfather was away.

Unfortunately, my grandfather passed away several years ago and my grandmother now has Alzheimer’s. So finding these letters helps me to keep a piece of something that was such an important time in both of their lives. They were both very special to me and will always be my greatest inspiration, and having these letters has helped me learn so much more about both of them from something that may have been lost with the click of a delete button or a computer virus. There are some things that can easily be lost or forgotten sixty years down the road.

I can’t help but think that although e-mail is an amazing piece of technology – it has lost the old fashioned eloquence and romance of the hand-written letters of our past. However, email and online communications help ensure that soldiers can quickly and frequently communicate with loved ones back home. While each form of correspondence has its own advantages and disadvantages, both help to keep the lines of communication open when needed the most.