Letter to Home | Teen Ink

Letter to Home

February 26, 2009
By Tricia Hartman BRONZE, Grove City, Ohio
Tricia Hartman BRONZE, Grove City, Ohio
1 article 0 photos 0 comments

Everyone in this world has a true desire whether we know it or not. Some wish to be skinny, taller, shorter, or they even may want to be smarter. In 2067 those are the kind of things teens want. Well, I am not an average teen most would say. I don't care about my looks or the things I wear. I enjoy listening to my family's past, my traditions, and my heritage.

This is where my story began. My social studies teacher wanted my class to bring something that would describe our past. I knew what I wanted to share, but grandmother would have to share it with me first. This would be my biggest challenge of all.

My grandmother, wow, I don't even know how to explain her. She could tell you things that would possess anyone's mind. Her stories about the recessions, 9-11, Martin Luther King Jr, and Barack Obama would capture you while she would sit in her favorite blue recycled recliner chair. There is one part of history she would not tell me, how my grandfather died in the Iraqi war. He died when she was just about twenty-two years old. He was known to be her true love, her only love in the world. I guess the day he died, she also died of heartache.

I met my grandmother at her home, to listen to her stories and to help her around the house. We spent the night cleaning and talking about life growing up in the 1990s and early 2000s. How different life was. To think that there used to be no cure for cancer or Alzheimer's! So many people suffered through all those easily treated illnesses. Most people used to live to their seventies. I am expected to live to about 103 in this day an age. Also, having red hair is rare. Only one out of 500,000 carry this colorful trait. Gram said that I am a spitting image of her youth. She to had copper locks. Over the years that youth faded, and it is now a pearl white.

'Gram what happened to Grandfather? I know you do not like to talk about it much, but could you please tell me about him, you, or even the war? It would mean a great deal to me to know more about him. Daddy will not talk about him either. I ask him and he always tells me to wait until I am older. I am tired of waiting. I am old enough!'

'You are sixteen! Well, I don't know! I feel if I told you, you would not understand. Things were painful then. Men and women went to war that was not even theirs. They died in the sands of a hateful nation!'

An awkward silence filled the air. It surrounded us like a thick fog. I had never seen her with such pain, such sorrow about something in my life. I love Gram and do not wish her grief. I just want some answers.

Gram then went in to her room and pulled out a case. This case was new to my eyes. It was worn and old. It was not made of materials that I ever knew. Green ink darkened the materials that controlled the mystery items inside this case.

'What is that made of?'

'It is called paper and cardboard my dear. They stopped using it when the discovered Punter. Around 2040 our country turned entirely green. Paper and wastes were banned to control global warming.'

She opened the cardboard box. Letters of the paper variety filled the box to the edge. I picked one up and read the address.

Olivia Smith
6521 Oakland Street
Orange County, South Carolina 65243-84528

'These letters are from your grandfather to me. When he was not fighting, he wrote me letters to lift my spirits. Here read these. They may give you something other than grief. Go home now. I will see you next week Ann.'

'Bye, I love you' I yelled in my soft voice.

'I love you too. Go home and get some rest. Thank you Ann, for helping today. You need to know your past, everyone does. I am sorry from keeping it from you'.

I was holding the box in my hands as I drove away in my hydro car. My mind went crazy thinking about these letters. What did he say, what were his thoughts? This was what I have been waiting for all my young life. Our books at school could not tell us their emotions or the actual events in a soldier's life. This was my first chance at finding out the truth of what happened decades ago.

I rushed into my green bedroom and opened the box. The paper envelopes felt so unnatural against my fair skin. A tingling sensation went up my spine and goose bumps covered my flesh.

'Here I go' I said to myself in a whisper.

September 20, 2007
Dear Olivia,

Today was my first day out of protection. I felt so empowered in my uniform. Iraq is a very unique country I would say. Depression feels the eyes of many other soldiers. I pray every night, that look does not over power me. Don't worry about me, will be fine and I miss you so much.

At this moment I am eating some beef soup and potatoes. They taste good, but not as good as yours. I think of you every moment of the day. Life is no good without you. WHEN I COME HOME I WANT TO MAKE YOU MY WIFE!!!!!!

Tears drowned my face as I read more of his letters. They were filled with heartache. He married my grandmother like he said a year before. After their honey moon, he was recruited once more. He had no idea he would never meet his son Jacob.

I picked up his last letter and I was filled with anticipation. Surprisingly a newspaper article fell out. Bold letters screamed in my face, Prisoner of War! I read the article and found that my grandfather died of torture and neglect. He served his country with honor and great dignity.

November 15, 2008

Orange County Local News


Ryan Blake's body was found today in Iraq by the local police. He went missing four months ago and was thought to be kidnapped. He was last seen on the banks of the Euphrates River building a bridge. His team was ambushed and taken by a local terrorist group. His body was found beaten and starved in an area of tall grass and weeds. They believe the others soldiers will soon be found.

He was a soldier in the United States army for the last two years. He was survived by his wife Olivia and young son Jacob. He will have a military funeral this Saturday at our local church. We all loved this soldier and hero. We wish his family lots of love. We all hope that his memory will last forever.

My heart sank and fell a hundred miles until it hit the floor. I felt sad and proud. My grandfather was no longer a secret. Why was he a secret? I am proud of him and our troops.

I drove to Gram's house undecided of so many things. I felt confused, neglected, and helpless all at the same time. I knew I must ask her questions, but not knowing how she would react.

Gram was sitting on her front porch ready to greet me as I pulled my car up to her house. Her white, long hair lay on her shoulders as she rocked back and forth in her orange rocking chair. I sat down beside her and asked her why my grandfather's past was so difficult to be told. As we talked, tears ran down from our eyes creating black rivers down our checks.

'I was angry, torn, and selfish. I missed him so much. He was my life, my best friend. I did not want him to go back to Iraq, what was the point? He was just only one person, one soldier. The day I heard he was recruited, I knew it was only a matter of time I would lose him.'

'What are you talking about? You lost him? Gram, you never lost him. You have his spirit in you. Without all of our men and women in the war, we would have never been able to leave Iraq better than we found it. The nation's fears and pain are gone. Terrorist are gone. Girls and women can become educated. Grandpa did not die; he is living in the spirits of the citizens of America and the rest of the world.'

I went to school the next day knowing what I must do. I told my teacher that I wanted to tell my story about my grandfather for our heritage assignment. She allowed me to do so and I took the green cardboard box with me to the front of the class room. Eyes in every direction glared at me with little faith or excitement. I took a deep breath, and began reading the letters to home.

Similar Articles


This article has 1 comment.

on Oct. 22 2009 at 8:28 pm
brechtj2/3 BRONZE, Jeannette, Pennsylvania
1 article 0 photos 5 comments
Let me start by saying this was a great topic. Going to the future were the war was over and the world was clean was phenomenal. The phrase "tall grass and weeds" you could change to "the skyscraper sized grass and the persistent weeds." Also you could use a simile in the sentence "I felt confused, neglected, and helpless all at the same time." Something like "I felt as confused, neglected, and helpless as the first slave stepping of the slave ship to the Americas." Over all the entry was descriptive, thrilling, and amazing "at the same time."