Most soldiers in combat prepare for the worst by writing letters that start with something like "If you're reading this, I'm already gone..." This week's Newsweek features several such letters American families received after their sons were killed in Iraq.
They're heartbreaking but a great testament to the faith of Americans. They make it a point to reassure their families of their faith in God. Each one expresses confidence that the soldier is in a better place. One even decided the Marines are guarding Heaven.
Also striking to me was that each soldier apologized for mistakes they had made or for hurting family members or not being the best son/brother/boyfriend they could be. And each asked for forgiveness. I'm not sure whether that's a natural human tendency to be hard on ourselves or if they really had unfinished business. It seemed sad that their last thoughts would be of those past hurts, when I'm pretty sure family members had forgotten them.
For those of us who are lucky enough to have our families intact, I guess it's up to us to make sure we offer that forgiveness and reconciliation to anyone in our lives.
Photo: Funeral of local Marine Lance Cpl. John Edward Hale.Val Horvath/The Times