Tag Archives: open letter

From Rick K. (Painter)

Rick Kelley

After so many years we’ve seen a lot of changes. We’ve seen a lot of battles, we’ve seen a lot of war. We’ve seen a lot of goodness, we’ve seen a lot of evil but mostly, we’ve seen a lot of sacrifice. To me, our freedom comes from those sacrifices. I created a painting of a soldier returning home and tried to capture the sacrifice that the soldier made. The eagle in this painting is flying over that sacrifice which was made in the name of God and country and freedom. What it’s all about is unconditional love and going beyond the call of duty which is what the world needs right now more than anything. I want the people who defend this country to know that there are people out there who care.

Rick Kelley

The Homecoming
The Homecoming


Hidden Words – The words at the bottom of the painting say, “OUR FREEDOM COMES NOT FROM THE GENEROSITY OF THE STATE, BUT FROM THE HAND OF GOD.”

Tie a Yellow Ribbon – The soldier is returning home. He looks over at the picture, drawn by his daughter, nailed to a telephone pole with a yellow ribbon tied right below it. She writes “In God We Trust” and “I Love You Dad.”

In Honor Of – Between the soldier and the town are ghosts of policemen, firemen and soldiers honoring him for fighting for what they gave their lives for.

Kinship – One soldier was his buddy, wearing the same deployment patch he is.

In Formation – As your eye follows the four telephone wires towards the town then beyond, you’ll see four snow lines going up into the mountains. At the end of the lines are four F-16 fighters flying in the Missing Soldier Formation.

From Ashes – Between the 3rd and 4th jet are the 3 firemen raising the flag in front of the remnants of the twin towers in Manhattan.

Raising the Flag – To the right of the 4th jet are the soldiers raising the flag at Iwo Jima.

Defenders – On one side of the main telephone pole, in the mountain, is Mother Teresa, who gave her life to the poorest of the poor. On the other side is Dr. Martin Luther King, who gave his life defending freedom.

World Peace – In the snowiest part of the mountain, to the left, is the Pentagon. World peace is defended there daily. In flight, below the Pentagon is United Flight 93. On the side of the plane, in the immortal words of civilian Todd Beamer it says, “Let’s Roll.”

Summit – At the top of the mountain is the American flag. In the sky is our nation’s symbol, the bald eagle, soaring to great heights over all the sacrifices in the name of God, country and freedom.

From Gina S. (Writer and Mom)

To our men and women who serve,

I see your sacrifice everywhere—on a nice day by the water when everyone is out with friends and family, or while putting my daughter to bed with wishes for sweet dreams and kisses to help make them come true. These are two of countless everyday moments that you sacrifice with your loved ones.  And because you do this, I get to have those moments in peace and security.

Thank you.

Thank you for all that you give up at home. Thank you for enduring long days away filled with danger or boredom, stifling heat or bitter cold, camel spiders and other wildlife, and mostly for facing whatever the day brings with courage.

Please tell your family that I thank them as well. The missing, worrying, dealing with appliances and vehicles that like to gang up and break down the moment you leave, and sending care from 7,000 miles away is not for the faint of heart.

What you and your family do for the rest of us is not taken for granted. It is honored and cherished. Hopefully the words in this book will help ensure that you never doubt this.
Gina S.

p.s. my daughter thanks you too.

Screen Shot 2014-06-28 at 9.11.55 AM

From Sherm S. (USMC Veteran)

First and foremost, you, me and all of our brothers-in-arms, will always be WARRIORS.

Never, ever stop fighting for what you believe in. Choose your battles. Choose wisely. Fold your hands and pray for guidance, then Heaven help those who get in the way, for when God is on our side, who can be against us?

I can do ALL things through Christ who gives me strength – Phil. 4:13.

If you are lonely…In your loneliness find strength, in your strength find humility, in your heart find God.

Have a great day. Have a great life, and be the light of the world to others who are lost, for we are Warriors carrying the torch to all who live in darkness.

Stay Safe my Brothers,

Always and Forever,

Sherm S. (I joined the Marine Corps in the 70s, did my training at MCRD in San Diego, CA, and have always lived under the principles taught in the Corps: Honor, Courage, Commitment).



From Tanya J. (Grandmother, Avid Traveler)

Most of my relatives were foreign-born. My grandparents came from Germany. My grandfather came to America for the opportunity. He came first then my grandmother followed. They settled in Iowa to farm. None of my close relatives served in the military but many years ago I used to attend dances at the Air Force Academy and got a chance to know some of the cadets.

When I think of the men who volunteer for military service I think of men with great intelligence, who are proud of America and dedicated to her defense. I fly a flag at my house because I’m glad to be an American and want to honor the efforts of our men and women in uniform.

Tanya J.

From Marti H. (Manager, Oil and Gas Company)

To all military personnel, active, now in the civilian world and retired,

Thank you. There aren’t words that I can write that express the gratitude I feel for all of your dedication and perseverance to keep the USA safe and secure. I am an average citizen that gets up and goes to work, enjoys their family and evenings out with friends as well as going to bed at night with the only worry being, did I set my automatic coffee pot to start brewing in the morning. Your days and nights are completely different and are filled with thoughts, emotions and surroundings I cannot imagine. Thank you.

My father was in the Navy at the end of WWII serving in the South Pacific. My brother served in the Army in the late 1970’s. I have a history in my family of service, but none during “war time”. I will have to say that a friend of the family served as a fighter pilot in the Air Force. Greg “Shorty” Short died of cancer in 2012. Talk about a champion and an inspiration to all who were privileged to know him. He received many commendations and medals which included two Distinguished Flying Crosses during Desert Storm. Next to his wife and children the Air Force and flying were the other loves of his life. He used to say “yep – they pay me to do this job!” Because of Shorty, is my view of our armed service men and women. Thank you.

Greg "Shorty" Short
Greg “Shorty” Short

As I have said the only experience I have had with the military is in peace time but, the fears and strain of deployment on families and friends of the dedicated that serve should be honored as well. When my children are late, or don’t call me back within a reasonable amount of time I get panicked. Where are they, are they hurt, do they need me? These are questions I ask when my daughter is coming home from a friend’s house late at night. I cannot comprehend the dull and constant fears your families and friends go through every second of every day. Thank you.

“AMERICA” wouldn’t be America without the men and women who have fought and fight to keep our country “FREE”. My highest praise and gratitude goes out to all of you, Thank you!


Marti H.

Marti H.


Project Update – June 2, 2014

Yesterday I got some very nice feedback on our book.  I thought I would share it here.  I want you to know that the people who receive Words For Warriors really like and appreciate the book.  This came from a veteran (Army Ranger).


“I got the book today.  Thank you so much. I’ll put it in a special place to display and share with my friends.  Read it from front to back already.  Outstanding, incredible, emotional but motivating and uplifting!  Thank you so much!”


“OK, my table is a cluster, but it’s my cluster!  This is where everything has a meaning including the rocks.  I will keep it snug against another important book of mine.”

Well there you have it!  If you’ve contributed to the Words For Warriors Project, you know your letter was definitely appreciated.  If you’re considering contributing to the second edition, please take a few minutes now to pen a few lines.  You don’t have to write like Hemingway, just a few lines from the heart is all it takes!


From Eric H. (Veteran of the USMC, Vice President of Investor Relations for an Oil and Gas company)

Dear Warriors,

I would like to express my pride and appreciation to all who have served our country in the Armed Forces. It’s an honor to be a part of such a distinguished group that promotes the values that made the USA great. I think back fondly on my time as a Marine and realize I will probably never experience that same kind of camaraderie and teamwork. The experience made me a much better person and is something I try to live up to a on a daily basis.

I send a special thanks to those who served in Afghanistan and Iraq. Your sacrifices have made us all safer. I’m certain you will continue to achieve great things whether you decide to stay in or to join me in the civilian world.

Semper Fi,

Eric Hagen

Vice President, Investor Relations, Oil and Gas Company

USMC, Captain, Infantry (1992-1997), 2d Battalion, 3d Marines


Eric H.

From S. King (U.S. Army Veteran, 8 years)

To my Brothers and Sisters in arms,

I want you to know that I genuinely care about you and think of you daily. We as a nation have been at war for over a decade, and many, if not most of you have pulled combat tours. It is a brave and respectful profession, and I know you don’t always get the individual praise and acknowledgement that you deserve.

The best advice that I can share with you, is that if things are getting mentally hard to handle and you need some of the weight lifted from your shoulders, reach out and talk to someone rather than trying to carry the entire burden alone. This may be hard to do at first, but I promise it will be worth it. The most important thing that I learned is that you cannot take care of anyone else until you take care of yourself first.

I am happy and grateful to be alive today, living a more peaceful life than I ever imagined possible. It has surely been a struggle living with my anger and service injuries, but in recent years, I have quit smoking, am educating myself on healthy food choices, am exercising as much as my body will let me, and have finally learned that happiness is a choice. How I react to situations is a choice. It is a new concept for me, but I am beginning to see things in a whole new light.

The only reason that I am sharing this is that I want you to know that when things feel like they are so broken, so out of alignment, and you think they will never be “right” again, hang in there and reach out and talk to someone. Know that you have choices and that YOU ARE A SURVIVOR. You are not expendable, you truly do matter, and you are not alone.

In my eyes, we are all brothers and sisters…we are family, regardless of branch of service or rank. Every day I think of our country’s veterans, the brothers lost by my side, and those of you who are currently serving, including my nephew and my two boys. I cannot look at Old Glory flying in the wind without thinking of you.

I am grateful and thankful for every one of you.

This We’ll Defend,

S. King

S. King

S. King


From Andrea H. (Dental Hygienist)

My father in-law was a veteran of WWII where he served in the Asiatic/Pacific Theater. He enlisted after Pearl Harbor while a senior in high school. I was very proud of him and really enjoyed spending time listening to his stories. Even with macular degeneration, he managed to type up his memories and his service record. I made it my mission to help him get his medals as he had never received them. And we accomplished that. He truly was a man from the Greatest Generation. He never knew a stranger and was always there to help anyone who needed it.

My son served for eight years in the USMC, and did a tour of Iraq. I’m very proud of my son’s service to his country, but I also know that the son we sent over there is not the one who came home. Although this is not all negative, as a mother you never want your child to have war experiences. But at the same time, I know he was well trained to do his job, and he was supported by his fellow Marines.

I am very proud of both of these men in my family. Some of the hardships they endured, like 48 hours straight of being shelled while in a foxhole on a beach in the South Pacific, or being in 116 degrees in the desert while wearing full combat gear, Kevlar vest, and ammo vest in blowing desert sand and living with such creatures as the camel spider, we can’t even relate to.

What these men, Our men, and their families went through for us, it seems we could never repay. What I try to do is to always walk up to anyone in a uniform and thank them for their service. Even if all they are wearing to identify them as military is one of those hats.

God Bless our veterans for all they gave to our country. No matter the politics of the time, these men and women didn’t even think twice about putting their lives on the line for all of us. And God bless the families at home. Not only do I want to give them my gratitude, but I also want us as a country to make sure to give them all the benefits and pay that they deserve.

Support our Troops,

Andy (Andrea) H.

This is me with my son Brandon.  I'm holding a photograph of my father-in-law.
This is me with my son Brandon. I’m holding a photograph of my father-in-law.

My son with one of his sons.
My son with one of his sons.


From Robert K. (Professional Photographer)

Pin-Ups have been a part of American history especially throughout the military. It’s most iconic period was during WWII. Those images reminded those that were fighting what they were fighting for and gave them the strength to continue fighting on. In honor of that history I love creating pin-ups and think they are still just as important today. These pin-ups represent how thankful I am for the sacrifices those in the military make to protect our country and our freedom!

Robert K. MsBombshell-1 MsBombshell-3

From Ernie M. (Veteran of the U.S. Air Force, Retired Pilot)

At the tender age of nineteen, I got my first “real” job. Sure I had newspaper routes, hardware store clerk and gas station attendant duties prior to this job, but this was “real.” I was hired as a Fleet Service Helper, a cleaner for Trans World Airlines, a premier airline in that day. Within 3 months, I was transferred to a Ground Service Helper position, a “gas man.” That involved a 10 cent an hour pay raise and liberation from “honey bucket” duties!

Up on the wings, fueling aircraft, I would occasionally visit with the Flight Engineer. I soon recognized that airline operations were good, but working as a cockpit crew member was more desirable than any ground job. I joined the U. S. Air Force and enlisted as an Aviation Cadet. After a seven year career in the USAF piloting KC-97 and KC-135 aircraft, I returned to TWA as a Flight Crew member and retired 28 years later as a B-747 Captain.

My work experience taught me many things. Don’t be afraid to start a career on the bottom. A good work ethic will give opportunities for promotion. The military gives lots of responsibilities and authority to young and somewhat inexperienced personnel. That doesn’t happen in the civilian world. Feel proud in what you do. You should feel as good about doing an excellent job as a Captain as you did as a Cleaner. Remember, “A chain has many links; all links must be strong or the job will not be done with success.”

Welcome home to the United States. Hopefully your future will feed on good events you may have experienced.

(My 22 year old grandson is visiting on leave with his bomb sniffing dog, “Issi” after their tour in Afghanistan. He will soon be experiencing a civilian transition when his tour is up next year.)



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From Hunter R. (Student – Age 16)

“Don’t be afraid of your fears. They’re not there to scare you. They’re there to let you know that something is worth it.” 
― C. JoyBell C.

Opening my eyes this morning, the first thing I saw was my room, as humble and unchanged as ever. I heard the cliché bird chirping of my alarm going off and I groaned as I forced myself out of bed. There is nothing to be afraid of in my morning. The monotony is satisfying and something that I know will stay consistent.

As a protector of this country, there is not that satisfying monotony. Waking up in a different area constantly, to new sounds and strange people, is normal. During times of fighting, fear is evident from the time your eyes open to the time your eyes close.

Fighting for something you consider worthwhile is the most courageous endeavor you can face. Anyone can become accustomed to routines, but it takes a true hero to be willing to face the unknown. As warriors, fear is not a wall, but an obstacle that can be taken over with willpower. There is nothing more valiant than to fight for what you believe in. Thank you for putting yourselves into the unknown, and being the epitome of strength.

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