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How painful is it to watch and wait for your husband, your dad, your brother, your child, knowing they are in harm’s way, fighting a faraway war? The e-mail sent to Army Family Journal by families keeping vigil with their loved ones in battle are full of heartbreak, tempered by prayer and leavened with a large measure of hope. It is difficult to read today’s letters without weeping. Scroll down to read more e-mail to An Army Family Journal:

May 26, 2003 / 5:12 PM ET

Name: Lill Hometown: New York

We got married on February 10, 2003. Because of his deployment to Iraq our date was moved a year early. The communication is really bad. Mail is late for six weeks approximately -I hope no longer than that.

Where is the email service that the Army and Press was talking about? The phone connection, it is really horrible. If you are lucky you will hear his voice. What is the President doing for the troops and their families? Can they do something to provide better communication between us? Everybody is concerned, focused on providing a better life for the Iraq population. Meanwhile, here we are suffering because we have no news from our men.

Name: Angela Hometown: Ft. Carson, CO

Well the Army sure is good at messing up the best laid plans. We thought the deployment orders would come while we were stationed in Germany, so my husband sent me back to my family early so that I would be close to my family through the war. Well the orders didn’t come. Before we knew it he was on a plane back to the states. We arrived at Fort Carson on February 1 and the orders arrived on Feb 14.

So my husband deployed with 4/3 ACR and here I am with a big house that seems too empty without my husband. My two small children and I haven’t met any one here yet and information seems to be slow. I’m too tired to cry any more and my kids think their daddy is never coming back.

Name: Kyle Hometown: Nixa, Missouri. Stationed at Pope AFB, NC

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I have been deployed since the 25th of February. In my journey, I have been to Portugal, Greece, Kuwait, and now Iraq. I am deployed with the 75th fighter sq. out of Pope AFB NC. We are the first, fully functional aircraft maintenance squadron in Iraq. This is a first in U.S. history.

I couldn’t be more proud to be here. On the other hand, I am definitely ready to pack my bags and head home. I would like to thank everyone for there support.

Name: Theresa, Dad, Jeremy, Tab, and Chris Hometown: New Hampshire

Our family was like many others that were glue to the T.V. trying to get a glimpse of our son, not knowing if he was alright. We have received one letter since the beginning of the war, which was a relief. Soon after the war ended we did receive a phone call late at night from him. (Thank you to a reporter that let him use his cell phone.) We all got up and took our turn to talk to him. His little brother was very happy, as were the rest of us. He thought maybe they would be home around the beginning of June. We all are hoping that is so, not only for his division, but as many as possible.

When the war first began, I had contacted the base where he was stationed, and spoke to the captain there, who took my e-mail address and phone number at work and at home. He seemed very pleasant and helpful. Boy was I fooled.

He had told me that he would forward my name and address to the person that keeps the families informed on any news. Weeks went by and we heard nothing I contacted the captain again, he assured me I would hear something if not from anyone else, then he would e-mail himself. Nothing again.

It is hard enough with family members be over there. If there are support groups or what ever set up, then they should be followed thru. Our yellow ribbons and still up and will remain up until you come home. We love you and are very proud.

Name: Jodi Hometown: Plymouth, MA

My brother, the youngest of three is in Iraq serving with the Army. We miss him terribly and wish we could hear from him soon. We have not heard from him in weeks and every time the phone rings, silence falls in the house as we all hold our breath hoping to hear his voice on the other end.

We are very proud of my brother and everyone over there. We are all praying for their safety and for their safe return home. I could not have asked for better men and women to do what they are doing for the Iraqis and to keep us safe from terrorism at home. We all miss and love you.

God bless you we are praying for all of you.

Hey Buck this ones for you kid take care. Hope to hear from ya soon. We love and miss ya.

God bless,

Jodi and kids, Mom and Dad, Jim, Lisa and kids, Scott, Grandma, Brandy, Snickers, Freckles, Princess, Bingo, Boots, and your toys.

Name: Tiffany Hometown: Woodbine, IA

I am a soldier in the United States Army and I can’t tell you how much your support means to us troops. Things are difficult out here, but knowing that there is so much support back home is what helps get me through another day. I have been in country since the beginning of April and it gets harder every day. Harder just not knowing anything, yet knowing something could go wrong at any moment.

I just want to let all of you know that you are the greatest motivation we soldiers have. If not for your love and dedication, what would we be fighting for?

Thank you from the bottom of my heart,

PFC (name withheld by editor), Tiffany

Kuwait/Iraq

Name: Carol Hometown: Chippewa Falls WI

My husband is an Army Reservist and was called to active duty on February 10, 2003. He has been in the service for 21 years and never been deployed. Now he is somewhere in Iraq. I have not heard from him in one month and it is slowly killing me inside. We have been married for 20 years and never been apart like this. Our kids are all older and on their own. I can’t work due to a back injury, so here I sit and wait for the phone to ring and check the mail daily in hopes I hear from him.

You see, he stayed stateside until April 14, and then went over so this is just a little over a month. I am getting very frustrated because all communications are cut off. But then you hear from a wife that she heard from her husband. So if he can e-mail, why can’t mine? I have had people tell me that maybe he just isn’t taking the time to do it, but I know my husband he would if he could so there is something going on with the communications. You would think I would get at least a letter.

I cry myself to sleep at night with a picture of him in my arms. I think of him every waking moment. I am always watching the news but they don’t say to much anymore so now I use the computer to get my news because they at least have more on there.

I can’t eat. I have lost lots of weight, so I have to go buy new clothes but that would require me to leave the house and I can’t because I might miss a phone call from him.

I support what he is doing and I support our troops. I just wish they would get the communications going then maybe it would be a little easier to cope. At least I love my husband with all my heart the same way I did 20 years ago when we married. I just want him home safely and soon.

Name: Courtney Hometown: Rocky Hill, CT

My husband has been deployed for three months now. When he left our daughter was just two months old and our son just a little over two years. My husband is in Iraq now and there are no phones where he is so we have not heard his voice since before Easter.

His babies are growing so quickly without him and our son is having a difficult time. I think he has vivid dreams about Daddy and when he wakes up he gets it into his mind that Daddy will be home for dinner and I will have to make him soup or Daddy will not come home to bed tonight.

The most difficult thing about being a Mom during this time is that there really isn’t a lot you can say to a two-year-old to make him understand why Daddy has to be with the soldiers for so long. How do you teach an infant to know what a Daddy is? We are still facing a one year deployment and I have to take each day one at a time or I would just break. I can’t cry or dwell on the sadness of the situation. This is obviously not what I wanted for my family but this is something that will ultimately make us all stronger.

My son tells strangers about his “Daddy the soldier.” I remember the first time he told a stranger, the woman stood up and shook his hand and then had her children rise and shake my son’s hand. From that day on he realized that his Dad is not just a hero to him but to others as well.

That act took such little effort on that woman’s part but it made a big impact. It is the little things that you can do to help support the troops and their families. I certainly have my moments of sadness but it is usually when the kids are asleep. I can’t wait for this to end -only eight more months. Wow that stinks.

God bless our soldiers and their families.

Name: Not needed Hometown: Sadly, Ft. Hood, TX

Why does mail take so long? This is supposed to be the most modern Army in the world. I think this is a big joke! No phones are available where my husband is and we don’t get any news on TV or on the Army News Channel. This is lousy, hearing nothing for weeks. Change it quickly.

My husband is 4th ID, 3/16th FA.

Name: Nathalie Hometown: Dubai

Here is my story: I am Arab and I love an American soldier and he loves me too. His family knew about our relationship and because of the war he went to Iraq and he was doing his best always to talk to me. I loved him a lot.

What happened is that he told me that he will have to leave in like a moth (this was in April) and he will be with me -I mean he will come to my place. He told me that day, “Nathalie, pray for me,” and this was his last words.

I have only his brother’s e-mail. After one month, in May, I mailed his brother because I felt that something wrong happen to my babe. After three days he mailed me and he told me that my honey is in a coma from like month and only this!!

Since that time I am trying to send him a lot of emails to know more about my honey but he is not answering me. I tried to know about these kind of hospitals in New York but I didn’t reach to anything.

I am totally lost. I mean, because I am Arab, his family doesn’t want to tell me anything about him. This is not fair. I just want to talk to him once again and I just want to feel he is there. OK, I am Arab but I am woman too. I mean, we do have feelings. I am so far from him I can’t even ... I don’t know what to do, how to reach, and how to know about him.

Name: Tracey Hometown: Colorado Springs, CO

What do I think about the soldiers deployed in Iraq? What is there really to think about? I want my husband home. I feel we have done what we set out to do. I supported the cause then and I still do. However, it is time to let Iraq take care of itself and let our troops come home.

I am not selfish and I don’t want to people to think I don’t care about what is going on in the world. I do want people to understand that there are a lot of us who haven’t heard a thing from our husbands and what is happening over in Iraq. We read and watch and hear a lot but nothing conclusive. No contact is the worst because our fears are worse without contact. We all hold our breath every time we hear one of our own has been killed or injured, and we wait.

I personally am sick of waiting. I want to hear from my husband and I want to know if he is OK. I don’t want to hear how our troops are low on water, food, and supplies needed. I don’t want the “Post Office Clerk” to tell me my package will take 30 days or more to reach my husband.

My husband and many like him need to have contact with his and their families. This is what keeps the morale and strength for them to go on. I do want my husband to receive his water bottles I have sent and the Godsend baby wipes, and most of all I want him to know he is loved and needed at home where he should be.

This is what I think. We Love you James (name withheld by editor) 1/3 ACR Howbat Unit...come home soon.

May 13, 2003 / 11:52 AM ET

Name: Ruth

Hometown: Heidelberg, Germany

My husband is in his second war in the Gulf. Before he even left for the gulf he had only been home for a few months total time in the last year. Leaving for a six month rotation after that was really hard. I had a friend ask how I do it with the kids and all. I wasn’t aware I really had a choice in the matter.

Quite honestly there are days when I just want to jump in a car and drive away and be alone. It often feels like there is a great weight causing that panic that sets in when you realize you can’t hold it anymore. Then you cry alone for a bit, wipe your face, and make dinner for the kids.

You realize however hard it is on you it’s harder on your husband. At least I have the hugs and kisses of the kids and I’m not missing the milestones of the year. My youngest is hardest hit by Daddy being gone. I just cannot have the TV on with him in the room. Several times he got all agitated and said, “Did you hear that? Did you hear what they said? They said your Daddy’s blown up and died!” I had to just forget the news to keep him sane. He really needs “guy time.” Boys need to wrestle and be tough in a way that moms just can’t do, although we try. The kids know how important their dad’s work is and we are all proud of him.

Our prayers, thoughts, and wishes all revolve around my husband coming home safe as soon as is possible. Until then, we hang in there because it’s all we can do.

Name: Gi-Gi and Vicki R. Hometown: Tinker AFB

We all sit down and watch the news at night to see if we can catch a glimpse of our family member who is over there, or we want to know if there is anymore information that may help us in knowing when that family member will be coming home. We also sit there and watch the news about Soldiers coming home with envy and jealousy in our hearts. It is not that we don’t want those soldiers to come home, but that we want it to be our soldier that is coming off the plan or boat.

On May 2, my family and I were those people that other families look at with envy and jealsouy. My dad came home after two short but long months of being deployed. This is a letter that my mom wrote after my father returned home on Friday, that I thought I would share:

As you know our Johnny is back. It was fantastic when we got to watch the plane land and see our service men and women come off the plane. It was a very proud moment for all of America, but especially for the little (name withheld by editor) family.

We waited patently for him to see us. Then when we saw each other. The kids ran to him and did not let go. Then I got hold of him. We were walking back to the car and there were some women from Wal-mart on the sidewalk handing out roses to the service members. They were thanking them and welcoming them back. It was a beautiful sight and feeling knowing that my husband, our little Johnny, had such a huge impact on this world.

If you can’t tell I am very proud of this man that I call my husband. It was fantastic having him home the first night. He played with the kids and then they went to bed. We started talking about the war. It was very hard in some places for him and I told him we could talk about it later, we have the rest of our lives to talk about it, we did not have to do it in one night. I forgot that on our part the war is over, but for those that served over there it is still with them. It will never go away, it will be in their memories and in their heart for the rest of their lives, so please do not stop praying for our soldiers, if anything they need them now more then ever. God bless all of our men and woman and help them through these hard times.

The loving wife of TSGT Johnny (name withheld)

Even though we have been blessed to have our father home, there are still too many over there to forget. Our thoughts and prayers go out to all of our soldiers and their families. Soon you all too can experience what it is like to have your family member come home. It will be exactly like you imagine. The crowd waiting, flags waving, and as soon as those soldiers step off their plane or boat, there will be more tears and cheers of joy than you could ever have imagined. I will never forget that day.

My thanks to everyone that is and was over there. My heart and prayers will always be with you.

Name: Devin Hometown: Atlanta, GA

This blog has been a great comfort to me over the past few months. Like Rainbeau, I got married in January only to have my husband go overseas five weeks later. Almost every emotion that people mention in their letters, I have felt on a massive scale. More than anything, I long to feel my husband’s arms around me, just a simple hug, and to hear his voice.

I am one of the lucky ones - I get occasional phone calls and emails - and this does make it easier. It does not, however, stop me from a daily battle with depression and a struggle to keep me occupied.

Yesterday was our four month anniversary. I went to church and listened to a sermon about marriage. Everyone asked me how Michael is doing and, with a smile on my face, I told them the latest news. Of course, while walking out of the church with my mother, I broke down into tears. I am not expecting him home until December, so assurances that the fighting is over don’t help much - it still won’t bring my baby home.

To all of the women - especially the newlyweds - who have written a message on this site, I thank you with all of my heart for sharing what you are going through.

I, too, know the pain of laying alone in a bed meant for two and longing for your best friend to come home. You have helped me through my struggle by letting me know I am not the only one. Thank you for everything, and I will be praying that my soldier and yours will be coming home as soon as possible.

Name: Marty Leak, Proud Veteran Hometown: Oxford, Alabama, United States of America

I served in the U.S. Army for four years as an explosive ordnance disposal technician. One year of that was spent in Korea away from my wife. I had no children at the time, thank goodness.

My roommate in Korea was the father of two children and a husband. He died on April 15, 2002 from an act of Taliban cowardliness in a massive explosion while he was disposing of a cache of booby-trapped ordnance.

I can’t describe the feelings that I have when I think of all the soldiers away from their loved ones and the chance they are exposed to in hostile lands.

I met my roommate’s widow and two children at a memorial for him a couple of weeks ago. To see his face in both of his kids’ faces was different, to say the least.

My only wish is that every soldier get home to their family safe and sound, and know that they are fighting for a truly thankful nation. Even though I have been in their shoes, I salute the U.S. troops for their commitment and bravery.

I thank you and my family thanks you.

Name: Tim Patterson Hometown: Mansfield, Ohio

To all soldiers families, particularly those whose loved ones served with the 2nd Brigade, 3D ID,(M)(FWD)

I am Major Patterson, 883D Medical Company, (Combat Stress Control). I was tactically operational with these task forces in Baghdad for the month of April.

I want you all to know that the men and women I had the privilege to meet under Col. Perkins’ leadership, including the 464, 164, and 315 task forces are a fantastic bunch of soldiers.

As a physician/psychiatrist my team listened to over 1700 soldiers for a variety of reasons during April. Most are just fine. Some want to think they are just fine. Most have been exposed to the horrors of war. See this link http://www.msnbc.com/news/906181.asp about a group of soldiers who underwent a critical event debriefing.

Your husbands, fathers, wives, and mothers, sons, and daughters have many memories they would rather not have. Your task as civilian soldiers of freedom is to help these men and women heal once they return home. How? Just Listen!

You can’t fix them, only time, the right kind of counseling, love and attention to spiritual goals can suppress their experiences to a manageable level. They may be silent and broody, withdrawn or detached on one extreme or wild and partying on the other.

Pay attention to negative coping strategies that may represent a change. Don’t be afraid to speak up and tell them what you notice. This may be the door they are searching for to ask for help. When they talk, just listen and validate their emotions such as “I can see/hear what you are saying and understand why you feel this way...”

Distract them eventually to something light or other activity even if it’s just folding clothes, washing dishes -anything of a routine they can get into while sharing their experiences. This “doing” allows the “undoing” of their pain and frustrations.

Their pent up feelings of helplessness may come out as anger. Just listen, validate, and be patient. If the anger is destructive, when calmed down speak candidly and firmly. Don’t be afraid to set healthy boundaries for yourselves. Request they seek help and if negative behaviors continue call their commander. There is help available by trained professionals.

Nobody wants to feel itchy, angry, sad or different. Our mind, body and spirits always seek health. Sometimes our helplessness traps us and we need someone to lead us out and forward. These soldiers have many feelings and memories of this conflict. They want to feel accepted and thought of as normal. Their multifaceted emotional responses are normal to a very abnormal experience.

Be proud of them all! Whether cooks, maintenance, infantry, medics, clerks or whatever. They all completed their assigned tasks. Some did what they weren’t trained to do to meet the needs of the mission. They all served well in the mission of granting a very oppressed people the very sacred right of free agency (the right to choose). Though many of the Iraqis have no idea what that is yet! Your soldiers are coming home as heroes. They may not feel that way. Let them blend into your lives slowly. It will take time for some, longer for a few.

It’s your turn to be their heroes! Fight for them with the power of love both as a defense and as a weapon against the emotional traumas they have witnessed and partaken in as their duty required. You are free men, women and children. Rise to the occasion and greet them with that strength. There is nothing more willful than a free person full of love, empathy and compassion mixed with the force of prayer and intent.

My prayers and best to you all. Timothy “Pappy” L. Patterson D.O., Major, MC USAR, Prevention Team 4, 883D MC (CSC)

Name: Mr. Pearce Hometown: Ft.Benning

The war from a different view: I am the spouse of an Army MP (Sgt. Pearce). I hear about the military wives and their different situations and their problems, but what about the men? Well, from the military husband who is back here raising the children, I understand what you are going through. Although I have to say, you are at least acknowledged by the media and others who believe that women are the only ones back here in the rear as the support at home.

My wife is a military police(person) who is presently serving in Iraq, and I might add I’m very proud of her. We have three daughters ages two, eight, and nine.

I am not complaining, I am merely trying to speak up for the fathers that are doing the job that everyone feels is the job for a woman, but in this case the roles are reversed. I write my wife twice a week and I encourage the girls to the same. I cook, clean, doctors visits, and anything else that is required for their happiness, whether it’s keeping my wife encouraged and reassuring her faith in God, or praying with my daughters. I’m the dad that does it all. So remember the fathers that are here fighting the war on the home front. Thank You.

Name: Jeannie Hometown: Medford, WI

My husband, Sgt Michael (name withheld by editor) just left last night 5-10-03 for a 6-12 month deployment to Iraq with the Alpha Company 724 Engineering BN from Medford, WI.

Michael had one day left to serve when he was called to active duty. It is amazing how one phone call can change your life forever.

This is also Michael’s second time going to Iraq, as he went to the Gulf War in 1991. This is his ninth deployment. I cannot describe my feelings as there are so many. All I know is that my husband and best friend have left for a far away and dangerous land. To all the families out there whose loved ones are serving, God bless you and give you strength. No one truly knows how we feel unless they have been there. My thoughts and prayers are with you all and like Michael always tells me, “Be strong and have faith!” I pray for a quick and safe return home.

Name: TJ Hometown: Ft. Benning, GA

My husband is a U.S. Army MP, who just over a month ago left for Kuwait/Iraq. We have a two-year-old son, and the night we were leaving to go up to his company to wait for the buses, my husband, who I’ve known for almost six years, went upstairs and gave our son a hug and kiss goodbye, and walked back downstairs with tears in his eyes -the first time ever since I’ve known him that he’s ever cried.

We left him with our good friend, who also has 2 children under the age of two years old, who’s husband has been gone with the 3rd ID. I sat up at his company motor pool for over five hours, even though he tried several times to send me home. I wanted to spend every last moment I could together, considering we didn’t know when we would get to see each other again. We were told that more than likely this deployment would be a whole year, and that scares me.

We’ve been married not quite two years, and in this time he’s been gone for about half of it, either deployments, field training, or one thing or another. But no matter how long we knew ahead of time, or how much we thought we could handle it, nothing could have prepared me for what was to come in the following weeks.

The first week he was gone, he called right after they landed in Kuwait. My son, was running around the house during the day, screaming for his daddy, and at night he would have night terrors whimpering and crying for his daddy. Exactly one week after he left, I found out I was pregnant. I was so excited, and I wanted to tell him as soon as possible. But to this day, I still haven’t received a second phone call from him. I had to tell him in a letter through the mail, which for me was very hard, knowing how important this child is to him. I sit at home almost all day, wondering if he’ll get the chance to call, wanting to hear his voice as reassurance that he is OK -almost attacking the mail man every day to see if there is a letter from him, and for that I will apologize. I could at least wait for him to get to my door.

In the Army community, I’m surrounded by many people, all willing to lend a helping hand, or an ear when I need to talk to someone. I’m completely surrounded by friends that have become like family in the short time we’ve been here. And yet, I feel so alone, more alone than I’ve ever felt before in my life.

The most wonderful thing that life can offer is happening to me, and the one person that should be here to share it with me, can’t because he is doing what he does best, his duty. I write him every day, trying to keep the letters uplifting, and yet I know some of them aren’t. Some days I wonder if things will ever be the same. But I do know that one thing will always stay the same, I am so proud of my husband, and the other men and women who are fighting for our country, both friends and family members, and those that I have never met before in my life. My husband has been my hero for as long as I’ve known him, and he will always be my hero. I pray for the safety of our soldiers every day, and I hope that they all return home soon. We love you, forever and always.

Name: Constance Hometown: EAFB, South Dakota

My husband was deployed on December 1, 2002. He was supposed to be home the first week of March, but was extended shortly before then. I keep waiting and waiting for him to come home. Nobody seems to know when he will be home. It has been a very hard five months, the hardest of my life. A few days after he left he found out a friend of his had died. A week after he left here, I found out my mother was sick. Shortly after that my grandfather died. It has been terrible for both of us not to be able to be together through it all.

People say the military is a big family, but I have not received that at all. No one has been of any help to me while he has been gone and nothing has been offered to me. I don’t think the military is too concerned about those left behind.

I also hear people say that these guys in the military knew what they were getting into when they signed up. That makes me very angry because I don’t believe that any of them thought when they went to the recruiter that they would fight a war some day. And even if they did, they deserve our prayers and respect.

If it weren’t for those who fight now and have fought before, we wouldn’t be able to enjoy the freedoms we possess as Americans. I am very proud of my husband for the job he does. I admire my husband and I do my best to support him. But I want him home now.

I see so many people coming home who haven’t been gone nearly as long as my husband, and while I am happy for them and their families, when is it my turn to enjoy that? Why isn’t my husband home now? I try to be strong and I think I put on a good face most of the time, but inside I am hurting every second he is away. He called tonight, but I was not home so I missed his call. That just about broke my heart. I want my husband home now. The waiting gets so unbearable.

Name: Maria Hometown: Colorado Springs

My name is Maria. I’m also an army wife. It’s 2:09 a.m., Wednesday. I can’t sleep thinking about my husband -whether he’s OK or something. My husband been gone for a month and it feels like years.

Before my husband left, I had just lost our baby. It was very hard for me to accept, losing my baby and my husband after a week of miscarriage. I felt so alone and neglected when he got deployed in Middle East. I try to be strong but at night, its hard for me to believe that I wouldn’t be seeing him for a year or so.

During the day I go to school at UCCS. I’m a pre-med student and I work at the nursing home as LPN. Work and school keep me busy and it fills my day. But as always, I can’t seem to stop crying almost every day.

I miss my husband so much. I don’t know what else to do. My day was filled of activity but at night, that’s when I feel so depressed. I’m at a point where I rely on my sleeping pills so much. I try to cut this habit so I won’t get addicted. My work and my patients are my sanctuary.

Anyway, I just felt by writing my story here I will find some friend or someone to talk to with the same situation like mine.

Name: Ann Hometown: Ft Carson, CO

We were getting ready for retirement. Tom has been in the Army for 19 years. He was in the last war in Iraq. After a three year stint recruiting, we thought he’d end up here at Fort Carson, then retire. But I knew better. I saw things heating up and knew somehow that if we came back here that he’d eventually have to be involved. I love Colorado and wanted to be here; but still didn’t want to be so far from family if he had to be deployed.

All my fears proved grounded in reality. We arrived here in June 2002. He left just less than a month ago with the rest of Fort Carson’s deployed force. I’ve heard from him once -he waited in line for two and a half hours just to talk to us for 11 minutes.

My girls are 9, 11, and 13. Too young to understand the last time, I feel that they are having to grow up way too fast to deal with it this time around. My youngest hasn’t passed a spelling test since Dad left. She’s gifted, but seems to care nothing for academics anymore. She has nightmares and tantrums (she never had them before) and will not sleep alone anymore -preferring to sleep on Dad’s pillow so as to feel close to him.

I watch the news and see wonderful loving homecomings. My husband is there to stay for a while -to occupy, to keep the peace, to help rebuild. His time away may be even longer. I don’t know. I don’t really know if that much is true right now.

He can tell me nothing. We live every day not knowing how long he will be gone or what he will be going through while he is there. I see Iraqis on TV, some are happy we are there, others are protesting and saying horrible things. I wonder what he is seeing and what he is feeling and if he feels safe when he sleeps at night.

We had a horrible argument (one of the few in our ten year marriage) just before he left. I knew it was from stress; but there we were shouting at each other for no reason five days before he left. I regret our trivial spat now and it tears at me when I can’t sleep at night. I walk outside and look up at the sky. It seems so close here in the mountains. I wonder if he looks up too. Is this the only way we can touch now?

May 2, 2003 / 7:37 PM ETName: WaddeHometown: Fort Carson, CO

I am a navy reservist married to an army soldier who is in Iraq. I thought I was ready to deal with the separation, since we have been in the military for 15 years and been through Desert Storm and Intrinsic Action. But yesterday I was hospitalized, and at around 8 p.m. I received a phone call on my cell phone from the FRG wife leader. Suddenly it hit home, she told me that Heavy Company 2/3 ACR had suffered its 1st casualty, but we did not know who it was.

I realized how powerless I was here in the hospital, worrying that it may be my husband, and worse that my son who watches the news every morning could hear the news without me being there with him.

I found out today that it was someone else husband and daddy.

To everyone else that is not married to the military, I don’t know how we (military families) do it, but we manage one situation at a time -not looking too far ahead, instead thinking of our kids. We try to play the clown of the circus, smiling but crying inside without the kids seeing you cry. And trying to shelter them from bad news like this one.

Name: Mr. & Mrs. Gary (name withheld) Sr. & Nicole Hometown: Westmoreland, New York

Our son SPC. Gary (name withheld) Jr. is based @ Ft. Bragg, N.C. He is an MP with airborne/air-assault qualifications.

In 2001 he was sent to Afganistan in the dead cold of winter and returned eight months later in the intense heat of summer, serving in Operation Enduring Freedom. He spent those eight long months at the Kandahar Airport, as one of the first groups to be sent to that region. His letters were devastating and heart-wrenching.

His experience there hardened him and as he tells us it was indescribable and unthinkable unless you were actually there. He did not want us to ask him questions about his deployment, it was too horrifying to recall.

Our lives literally stopped those eight months he was over there. We were glued to the news, didn’t leave home unless we had to, and cried ourselves to sleep many a night. It was very stressful for him as well as his family. He turned 22 years old two days after he returned. He is now serving in the second war of his young life, only eight months after returning from his first one.

We are so proud of our son and brother. Words alone can’t describe how we feel about our American hero. We love and miss him so much. Life as we knew it no longer exists. Stress, fear, anxiety, and hope engulf our lives. We can only just imagine in our worst nightmares what he had to encounter in Afghanistan, and what it feels like to be right back into another war, this time Iraq.

The support of his family and friends, his love for God and his country is what motivates him and keeps him strong. We are continuing to be glued to the news as we were during Operation Enduring Freedom, but this time the news is much more descriptive and precise. We truly thank the embedded reporters, it helps us feel closer to our son and brother. We only wish there were embedded reporters in Afghanistan we could rely on for day to day news.

There was no parade in N.Y. when the soldiers returned from Afghanistan to honor their personal sacrifices in defending our country, and helping to free our country from terrorism. They are planning a parade now for those who served in Operation Iraqi Freedom, in N.Y. We say it’s about time, they are willing to give up their lives for our freedom and safety. We take so much for granted in this country, and have no conception what it would be like without the freedoms we enjoy and embrace every day.

Those who live in Afghanistan and Iraq can only dream what that would feel like. We are helping them make that dream come true, by getting rid of the controlling evils that loom over those countries. And ridding them of the potential dangers they can use against our homeland.

Thank you Gary, and everyone serving in the Coalition force, we pray for your safe return, and truly honor your heroism.

Name: Britany Hometown: Wildomar, California

My aunt’s boyfriend is in Kuwait. His name is David. I have never seen him before, but when my aunt talks about him she smiles.

I know she misses him. I also know that she loves him. If I had a chance to stop him from going I would have given my life. I can write to him too. But I will still miss him, knowing that he won’t come back for a long time.

He left sometime near Valentine’s Day. He gave my aunt flowers. I hope they will get married. All of my wishes are to have him home safely.

My heart goes out to all of those who have a loved one. My friends made a sign that says, “Honk for our troops.” A lot of cars honked.

All my love to David.

Name: Cressida Hometown: VA

My husband is in the 1032nd Trans Co. I have just received word the past couple of days that they are in Baghdad with the 82nd Airborne. I support our troops, God knows I do but I want my husband safely home. Some might say the war is over but I don’t buy it and I don’t trust that place. You have suicide bombers that would give up their life or their children, wife, whatever to kill Americans.

I can’t sleep at night, I’ve moved out of our bed completely because I just miss him too much to stay in it. I lie on the couch at night and I hold the necklace (that he has part of) close to me and I say a prayer for him, the other troops and myself.

We have three children, and mentally it does not get easier everyday, it gets harder especially considering the kids will be out of school for summer break in 31 days.

I miss him, I want him safely home. I am being supportive I know some people might think I’m not, but my husband’s life is more important than fighting for that country.

We liberated those people from that monster Saddam and now they want us gone, so I think we should go, and let them see if they can handle it on their own.

Name: Rachael Hometown: Fort Hood

April 29 -still waiting for word. I have had one single page letter, dated early in the month. Other wives have gotten calls, multiple letters, but the guys from B Battery 3/16FA seem to have dropped out of contact. We know they have separated from the rest of their battalion to support the 1/67AR in northeast Iraq. That’s what I get from news sites and MSNBC. I hate the waiting.

When I heard there were 2 casualties from Fort Hood’s 4th ID I refused to answer the door for fear...I don’t want a “green suiter” coming to my door.

How did the families make it through Vietnam and Korea, when there was no Internet and the rest of the world seemed to be against our soldiers? What a sad and terribly lonely time I can imagine that to be. I can only begin to wonder how much worse I would feel if it were not for the contact I can have with others who understand. And yet for every one person who does know, there are five others who demonstrate their ignorance everyday.

I’m so tired of people saying the war is over. It’s a total cliché, but it’s just not over until they all come home.

I miss the closeness of him being home. I miss the dirty BDUs and the smell of freshly ironed starch. I miss motor oil and sweat and the faintest trace of Pert Plus all rolled into one. Pretty pathetic yes?

Our daughter seems to have grown at least two inches since he has been gone. She is only three, yet she seems to have this air about her that a teenager would have, all self-assured on the outside and a bundle of nerves in the inside. Is he even going to recognize her when he comes home?

Name: Sarah Hometown: Stevensville, MD

My husband is with A co 3-7 INF who is with the 2nd Brigade Combat Team out of Fort Stewart, GA. We still await a phone call, email or letter from him.

These last two months of no communication have been the hardest out of the last six months since he deployed. I have learned from before that you can’t just sit by the phone, so the kids and I stay busy and keep to our same daily routines which have been helping the time to fly by.

The time didn’t start to slow till about a week ago when friends of mine started to receive phone calls and e-mails. You can’t help but have a little jealousy in your joy for your friends but they are all understanding. The news doesn’t cover our men as much anymore so the hope to see him starts to diminish, but I know he knows I am with him.

I gave him only one request the last time I talked to him and that was for him and his fellow soldiers to do what they needed to do so that they get to come home to us safely. I can only hope the kids and I get to hear his voice soon saying, “I’m OK” and then I will finally get to take my first breath of relief.

To the other strong family and wives out there, remember that you are not alone. This moment in time has bonded us all and each soldier, sailor, airman, and marine will stick together.

I can’t be happier and prouder to say that I belong to a huge military family. I keep this family in my prayers everyday.

Name: Andrea Hometown: Goose Creek, South Carolina

My husband and I were married almost a year ago. I feel blessed to have this man in my life.

After he first left to go over to Kuwait, I went out and bought about 20-30 Valentine cards for him. When I got the address from him, I started sending them out. Everyday I would send one. Then after Valentines Day I bought more cards for him and started sending those. I have also e-mailed him everyday.

There was a long while there that I hadn’t heard anything from him at all. I didn’t know where he was after he left the camp he was in over in Kuwait. That scared me, but I didn’t let anyone know how afraid I was.

We have three children between the two of us. I now have two teenagers in the house along with a preteen. They surely helped out by keeping my mind off of the war on different occasions.

Then on one glorious night (around 2:30 a.m.), I got a phone call. When I answered it all I heard was static and some beeping. I kept saying, “Hello?” Then I heard a faint, “Honey, can you hear me?”

I started yelling into the phone, “Stephen? Oh my goodness! Stephen! Is that really you?”

Then suddenly the phone made a long beep and then there was nothing. I just sat there holding the phone looking at it, wondering if I was dreaming.

Then the phone rang again, and I dropped the phone. This time, when I answered the phone, it was so clear. I heard the voice of my wonderful husband on the other side saying to me, “Andi, I love you.” He asked how the kids and I were doing. We talked for about 45 glorious minutes. All we talked about was how much we missed eachother and how much the kids missed him.

I even put him on the speaker phone so the dogs could hear Daddy’s voice too. Our anniversary is coming up next month and all I pray and hope for is that he has a good day that day. Of course I would hope to spend the day with him, but I don’t know when he is coming home so if anything I would just love to talk to him on that day.

My heart goes out to all the other wives and husbands that are back home waiting on their loved ones to come home. Stephen is with the 123rd Sig Bn out of Ft. Stewart, Georgia and I am extremely proud of him.

God Bless all of you.

Name: Wyndi Hometown: Fort Polk, LA

My husband left this past Friday with the 2nd ACR out of Fort Polk, LA. He was suppose to get out in June and this week we should have been house hunting. Instead I now sit waiting for news. He was told he would be over there six months now we are hearing five.

I have been told by everyone to stop watching the news but it’s hard and weird that I cannot.

My husband and I have been through a lot. Our daughter was born in December and I had a cancerous lump removed from my breast in January. I keep dreaming that he’s still home. My only comfort comes from our daughter and the two letters he wrote me before he left.

My mother-in-law actually blames me for him going which kills me in so many ways. What she does not realize is that I am lost without her son.

Right before he was deployed I found another lump. Only my surgeon was also deployed so now I am waiting for another doctor to decide what to do.

I respect what they are doing over there but I have to wonder what about us let over here.

Name: Rainbeau Hometown: Twin Falls, Idaho

Just a few months ago, I could have never imagined what I would be going through right now.

My Matt left in April. It’s not even the end of April and I’m dying for his return!

Its so hard without my husband, even the little things are too big to handle some days. Talk about crying over split milk. I have got one phone call since he left, no e-mail (the women who get them are dang lucky), no letters (I hope to get some anytime.)

The mailman wants to kill me. He was five minutes late delivering the mail Saturday and I broke down and cried to him. He promises to be here on time on Monday. I even asked for his cell number.

Matt asked if we are “going to be okay.” I know that we will make it through this separation, but that doesn’t mean I want it to last forever.

Going to bed at night is a chore, I was thinking after three weeks of crying I would get tired enough to go to bed before 4 a.m. but I suppose I should give it another week or so.

Matt and I just got married in January. When we talked, a lot of it was about what we are going to do when he gets home, and where we will finally take our honeymoon too. He thinks Hawaii, I was thinking that it doesn’t matter as long as we get to hold each other again.

I feel bad though, when he finally gets my letters, until his phone call they were all, “I miss you, I love you, I hate this, come home, I need you, I’m sad...etc., etc.” I still write like this, but I’ve found if I write in the afternoon they turn out a little bit happier.

I have been volunteering at the Red Cross to help the time pass. I don’t like it though, all they have me do is file papers or watch disaster movies. If that doesn’t get your mind off war, I don’t know what does! I think I will look for a job where I’m busy all day and don’t have time to think.

But then again, I need a job where they will let me carry my cell phone on me. I think I would die if I missed one of Matt’s calls. I sleep with my cell phone, I can’t take a shower without it on high and vibrate and less than a foot from the shower. I long to hear his voice.

To help that I sent a little voice recorder with a tape from me. I can’t wait till he gets it. It must be so hard out there. Its not easy on the home front, but I know that he is doing much worse than me. But when I finally get to hear his voice on that recorder! I think SONY should get a big pretty penny from the U.S. Army.

The biggest struggle for me is that I am in a town of non-supporters, and if they do support they sure aren’t public about it. The nearest base is an hour and a half away. That, and when people tell me, “well the fighting is over you shouldn’t be that upset.” Well I’m sorry but the fighting has just begun, and even if its calmed down, my husband is still in a foreign country fighting for our freedom and we don’t have contact with each other.

Do you think it is any easier for them or me, just because the “war is over?” No, I don’t think so.

Well just my 2-cents for the day. Looks like I only have 25 more Sundays to cross off in my calendar, uh?

Name: Kathy Hometown: Haven, KS

My name is Kathy, I have two children over there. My son, a Marine MP out of Camp Leujune, NC., a Lance Corporal, left February 14. My daughter is an Army MP out of Ft. Bennings, Ga. She left January 8.

It’s been a long haul.

I know my son is safe. He has written and called. My daughter is in Iraq and I only have a two paragraph letter from her written sometime the end of March, somewhere in Iraq, saying she is safe, dirty, and that she has seen some really bad stuff, and will never be the same.

But safe.

I can’t even explain how proud I am of my children, and of all the troops. And of all the people supporting our troops and when I see them being welcomed home as heroes I’m brought to tears.

My daughter was really worried how they would be treated when they got home. She will be really surprised and proud I’m sure.

It is such a comfort to know they will be received with open arms. My prayers are with the troops and the family and friends of all over there.

Name: Jaelah Hometown: Havelock, North Carolina

When we found out we were going to have a baby we were ecstatic! Then, right after Christmas my husband left from Cherry Point, North Carolina and is now in Iraq with Task Force Tarawa. My heart sank when I knew there was no chance of him returning in time for the birth of our first child.

For the first three weeks of him being on ship he had e-mail. I received at least one a day and usually more. It was great being able to have some contact with him on a daily basis.

Then they docked. His computer was shut down on February 13 and they docked on the 14th. A month went by without a phone call or a letter. I had to try really hard to keep my mind occupied so I didn’t get depressed.

Finally, out of nowhere on March 15 the phone rang at 6:45 a.m. I heard, “Hey baby!” from the other end.

Tears welled up in my eyes as I gasped. I could barely speak. He said they had just moved camps and had the day to go to a small PX that had some payphones there. It was so wonderful to hear that he was doing OK. After that I received a couple letters up until March 19, the day the war began. I haven’t heard a single thing since then.

Now, my due date is only two weeks away. He has been gone for almost four months. Every day I get up out of bed praying for a letter in the mail. Every night I go to bed praying for a phone call. I keep hoping there will be some way for him to contact me after Red Cross gets him the message about our daughter being born. I have seen on the news where other guys have called their wives after receiving word from home, and it makes me hopeful.

Today, I watched Navy ships dock and sailors seeing their families again. I wanted to cry because I want him home. I feel so selfish to say that because I know what he is doing is extremely important and helpful for the world. I guess it’s the pregnancy talking!

He is my life and my world. I wouldn’t know what to do without him. I am very proud and supportive of him and all the other military fighting and risking their lives for others. I am praying for a safe return for all, and I cannot wait for him to meet his new baby girl!

I love you Kev!

Name: SSG Mark D. (name withheld) Hometown: Los Angeles, California

I’m pleased to be married to the best wife in the world for me, her name is Felicia. She was born in Charleston, South Carolina. My name is SSG Mark (name withheld) of HHD, 68 Corps Support Battalion in Kuwait.

We’re about to celebrate our 15th Wedding Anniversary. I’m so proud of her and my kids for the support they are giving me while I’m deployed.

Also my town and neighbors Allen and Renea that live in front of me in Colorado Springs, Colorado, they’re so much help to her also.

I would like to give thanks to my father Lonnie in Los Angeles, California and my Mother Gloria in Houston, Texas. I love you both. Special thanks to my brothers Carl and family in Lake Charles, Louisiana.

Billy and family in Stuttgart, Germany, thanks for your support from the home front.April 11, 2003 / 4:00 PM ET

HEARTBREAK AND HOPE

Name: Tina Hometown: Georgia

Dear Tamara,

My name is Tina, and my husband, a sergeant in the Army, is stationed in Germany. Things have been very rocky in our marriage this past year. To make a long story short, I opted to stay here while he went to Germany. I got word from him in January that his unit was deploying, but he didn’t know where, he thought maybe Turkey. Well, I got an e-mail from him about three weeks ago, and this is what it said:

Just saying hello, the day before — I just want you to know I think about you every day. I am going to pick Joey up after all this, he needs to be with Dad for a while. Dad and Mom said hello, actually a couple months ago, right after you called and told Mom I was home for Christmas. She knows you were just fishing for things to fight with me about. Its OK, Tina, I have always loved you, just none of the things you did that hurt us so. Please pray for us over here. I wish you didn’t have a grudge, and had some grace and forgiveness. I would love to get mail from you, especially with me living in the desert for so long. Love always,Your Joey. May God’s grace and forgiveness frequent your heart and may you keep Jesus’ will out front of your own, I hope I will get back to Germany soon, these sandstorms are pretty severe, and I have a Bible college date set up for next year. I think after this deployment I will have enough money to get rid of all those credit card bills. I will certainly tell any woman “no” who keeps telling me that it’s OK to run my credit up so high, but I guess you were right, it was my decision, no matter what was in my heart.God bless you dear.

Tamara, I didn’t even get to hold my husband that one last time before he got on the plane to Kuwait, and it tears me up inside each and every passing day! I know how wonderful my husband is, and all I do is pray to God each and every passing day that he can give our marriage just one last chance to see if we can work things out or not. I know that it should not have taken something so drastic as a war to make me realize what I have in my husband, though he does have his faults. All I want right now is an e-mail or a letter, or even a phone call from him to let me know that he is alright, and that he loves me!

There is not a day that goes by that I don’t sit and think about him in some way, and a lot of those times I end up crying because I am afraid that I will never get to see him again, or hold him in my arms and let him know how I really feel. It hurts to not know what is going to happen, and to have to wait for days, weeks, or even months before I can hear from him again.

It was bad enough thinking that he was not going to speak to me again after I found out he was getting deployed, because it was almost two months before I got the e-mail from Kuwait. If I could talk to him right now I would ask first of all if he was all right, and then tell him I love him with all of my heart, and to keep his head down, and think of me and his son, and the rest of his family, and to come home safe, and come home soon.

Tamara, I also pray for you and yours, and for every other soldier that is out there in this mess.

Name: David Hometown: Upham, North Dakota

I have a brother who is an Alpha Avenger 101st Airborne Ranger, also known as “airborne assassins.” He served in North Viet Nam and the man has never been the same. Our government finally acknowledged his existence and he is being treated for Agent Orange complications. I say this to the world hoping the boys and girls that are in Iraq won’t be forsaken by the government.

Name: Ann Hometown: Ft. Campbell , KYKick-ass Screaming eaglesMad and Confused at U.S. press

The other day some press got on the base and made it to the commissary where they approached wives of the 101st. What would they do and how would they feel if there husband was KIA? The wife basically attacked the reporter and the MP’s were called to get her off them and escort the press off post.

First of all, ”YES!!!!Go get ‘em girl!

And BOO HISS

to the press here in Tennessee: you have been awful for the families’ morale.

All they report is the negative and try and make us sadder than we are. My children cannot read the paper or even watch the local news without them bothering some poor family and asking questions that any person would have a hard time answering.

Shame on the press for trying to capitalize on the death of a soldier. Shame, Shame. Let’s ask thier mothers how they would feel if their child was KIA. I bet their mothers would react the same way.

Name: Fernando Hometown: Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic

There is little I can do to help console military spouses but this:

I have lived in two countries where American troops have invaded (Panama and Dominican Republic) and I just have two words: Thank you. Americans have fought fiercely and made the ultimate sacrifice thousands of miles away from home, fighting for freedom. But you were not fighting for your own freedom, since you were already free. You were fighting for our freedom. For the freedom of the citizens of the world. Those of you who have gone to war have made huge sacrifices for all of us. Yet those who have stayed behind, waiting for sons, daughters, brothers, sisters and spouses have made an even greater sacrifice.

And even when most of my countrymen, and most of the world, even, fail to remember the price you have paid for us, I will never forget. God bless you, God bless the U.S. Armed forces, and God bless America.

Name: Jessica Hometown: Fort Sill, Oklahoma

My husband left for Kuwait on March 21, two hours before our first child, a son, was born. SGT W. is a wonderful soldier and husband and will be just as great as a father. I regret that Aaron didn’t meet his daddy when he was born, but hopefully our troops will be home soon and we can pick up our lives again.

I am proud of all of our soldiers over there (I am in the Army too, but I stayed for obvious reasons). Good luck to them and to all the families!

Name: Jennie Hometown: Maybrook, New York

Today my husband has been gone for four days. To me though it seems like forever. He is an MP in the Army. We are stationed in Fort Bragg. It seems like the whole world has come down on me. When my husband told me that he was being sent over to Iraq it felt like someone had just crushed me. He had just gotten back from Afghanistan five months ago. He could not be leaving again. When he had to leave on Saturday I thought the day was never gonna end. I just wanted to hold on to him and not let go. My life was just getting back to the way it was and now it was being torn away from me again.

Not only did it feel like my husband was leaving but my best friend, too. Here I am going to be a single parent to our seven-year-old daughter and our two-year-old son again. Having to explain to them why Daddy is leaving again. This will be two times in a row that he has missed our anniversary. We will be married for eight years in May. I know when he joined the Army that his job was to defend our country and I support him 100 percent.

It still scares me though when you see on TV about the war. You say to yourself, “God, Please keep my husband safe.” When you see that someone got hurt or killed you hurt even if it was not your husband or loved one. Because it still is a part of your family. Now it’s like if I’m not watching the news I’m hoping and praying that he will call me. Just to hear his voice would make me happy.

Name: Tom Hometown: Boston

Hey Kid, I talked to your mom today. She said you put your roommate on a plane yesterday. I can’t imagine how hard that must have been. I guess you’re really leaving too. I didn’t really think about it until now. The wedding was great, would have been better with you by my side, buddy, but you go when they tell you to. You know that you are still my best man, you’re just theirs now too.

So, how’s your lady? Are you going to pop that question soon kid? Bet you thought that that would be the scariest thing you would ever have to do. You know I’m pulling for you buddy. A.M. says she’ll have a cold one waiting for you when you get home. Be safe, man.

To 82 Airborne, LT S. and all my buddies out there, fight the good fight, we miss you.Name: TeriHometown: Las Vegas, NV

I am an Army mom. My son is with the 4th I.D., deployed a few days ago, but in Fort Hood for a few months before he left. I find myself going into his room and staring at his football pictures, past proms, Christmases and birthdays and all of a sudden I don’t think it would bother me too much to have to clean up after him or do all the smelly laundry after track or football, or run to the store for vitamin D milk because that’s all he’ll drink.

I, like a lot of the other families that have written, am drained from watching and wondering and worrying until I am sick. I just keep telling myself that parents and wives etc. have been sending loved ones off to war for hundreds of years. We make it through the rough times with kind words from friends and strangers that see you wearing a yellow ribbon. I miss Dustin so much and I call his answering machine just to hear his voice. Hopefully this will all be over soon and we’ll have our moms, dads, brothers, sisters, sons and daughters home soon. Thank you for your time.

Name: Carolyn Hometown: Harrisburg, Pennsylvania

My son, Josh, is a medic with the Army’s 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment. He just arrived at Ft. Carson a few weeks ago and has now been deployed to the Gulf. I was hoping that he would not have to go because he had just recently gotten back from Afghanistan, where he served with the 82nd Airborne Division. He reenlisted in the Army while he was in Kandahar and had requested a transfer to a base close to home. But in the Army’s way, he was instead transferred to the 3rd ACR, halfway across the country. And now, once again, he is halfway around the world.

I had a very hard time at first coping with Josh’s first deployment. But I started writing to him every day, which helped me tremendously. And I soon learned how important that was to Josh. Sometimes it would be weeks between mail calls, but he knew for sure that when the mail finally arrived, there would be letters from home.

I can’t stress enough how important it is to our soldiers, sailors and marines to get regular mail. I recently saw a sign held up by a soldier in Kandahar that said “Will work for mail.” That says it all. On Christmas Day, Josh got 23 letters from me. He said it was one of the best presents he ever got.

So now again, the letter-writing starts. I’m torn up inside with worry, but filled with a pride no one but a military family can understand. I love you, Josh, and salute every one of your fellow brave men and women in the military.

April 9, 2003 / 6:40 PM ETName: TerrieHometown: Kensington, NH

When my son decided that he needed to join the Marines almost four years ago, at the age of 31. I asked him outright, “Have you taken leave of your senses? ” He is a caring, gentle, and very talented young man, in many ways. I had many qualms about him being in the service.

Do not get me wrong, I am not against the serving of my country. My dad landed on Normandy Beach on D-Day, I had four uncles and each were in a different branch of the Military, I had a brother that served in Vietnam.

I suppose that I did not want to see what might be, in case something might happen and my son had to be shipped out. After an impressive graduation from boot camp (my heart was bursting with pride at that time) and all that entailed, he was then stationed at Camp Pendelton, with a short trip in Korea. At that point, I was thinking, “This is okay, we got over the hurdles” — baby speed bumps compared to now.

An e-mail that I got from my son on March 18, 2003 at 4:45 a.m.: He said, “Don’t be hurt if you don’t hear from me for a while. We have something that we have to take care of for everyone, soon!”

Of course, we at home new what this meant. All of the different emotions have been a daily battle of our own. I run to the television every time I hear the word “helicopter,” for any news or maybe a chance glance of my son. What keeps me in perspective and away from self-pity, is knowing that the Iraqi people will have the freedom, the dignity, and all rights that they deserve, to be treated as human beings.

I am so very proud that my son is a part of making this all possible.

God bless our troops and their families. I pray for comfort to the families of loved ones that have given their lives for freedom. Freedom for the Iraqi families.

We Love you, Our Corporal.

Name: Mrs. Brigitte Hometown: Bradley, Illinois

My oldest son, Spec.Eric is with the 101st Airborne Division, Recon Unit. I have always been very proud of him, but I am especially proud of him for his outlook and attitude. I received a letter from him, dated March 19 in which he wrote, “Mom, I guess you’ve found out by now that we are going to war, no matter what. A lot of the guys are down about it, they are writing their goodbye letters. However, I’m not going to write a goodbye letter, because I’m coming home! It’ll take more than some Iraqis and their crazy leader to keep me from coming home!”

This really gave me pause to think. If he is so confident, then I should be more positive and optimistic. I spent the first two weeks of the war in a constant state of anxiety and crying at the drop of a hat. Now I am much more positive and I’m getting involved.

I contacted our local VFW and Legion hall and also I’ve chatted on a couple Military Mom’s sites too. I’ve contacted and gotten together with the Mom’s of my son’s friends who are also overseas, and we are supporting each other in every way we can.

This war will not tear apart this nation, it will bring us all closer together.

Name: Etta Hometown: All over the world for 17 years

I am an Army wife of 17 years to a sargeant first class. We have three children that have grown from small children into adults and a five-year-old. They have known no other life than the military. My husband has been through Desert Storm, Bosnia and now Iraq.

He has spent many months from home training and overseas tour in Korea but this deployment is like no other. The news coverage brings the war right to your living room and knowing the dangers of an 82nd Airborne Soldier does little to relieve the constant fear of losing your spouse in a far away land.

Through the modern convenience of e-mail I recieve a very short e-mail containing the words “I love you and will be home soon and safe” but it does little to alleviate my worries. We have three years left to go till retirement but it is three years too long.

I love my country but I am not willing to sacrifice the father of my children and raise them on my my own. Everyone supports their husband but not one wife will say they are willing to give the ultimate sacrifice. This war can end none to soon for me and hopefully the next three years will whiz by in a calmness of peace and goodwill.

God bless all the soldiers and Godspeed home and my thoughts are with each military spouse doing the agonizing waiting and foreboding of what may come.

Name: Shelboni Hometown: Durham, NC

I am a U.S. Air Force wife (once a child of the Air Force). This is my husband’s second trip in the two years we have been married to the desert. I try to stay in prayer for everyone, but at times I find myself feeling mixed feelings of anger, sadness, fear, praise, and pride. I do not support war as a Christian, but I support the military.

Without question we, the family and soldiers, sacrifice our lives for the greater good of our country and at times the world. One must have a tough skin to be a military spouse or child. The constant changes you experience can be hard on a family if you are not tough. I salute the soldiers, but I salute the spouses that keep the home fires burning while our men and women take on the world.

A true warrior prays for peace, but prepares for war. I pray for peace, but support my husband as he is at war.

I ask that we as a country pray more and bicker less. We have allowed the enemy to divide us, and to me that is the goal of terrorists in the first place. What happened to our unity from September 11? Don’t let them do to us what they have done to their own country.

Name: Bonnie Hometown: Norfolk, NE

My husband and son are in a reserve unit that was called to duty January 26. My son was a reservist since March of last year, but when he heard that his and his dad’s unit may be activated he joined back up five days before they got the call. I am very proud of my son and husband for doing what they are doing and I know that everyone that has a person in the service should be proud.

My husband was in Desert Storm 50 miles from Kuwait and now both are stationed somewhere in Europe.

My son was married two days before he left. They were planning on getting married June 14.

I heard someone say that I have no right to be worried about my son becaues as they put it “he’s only your son,” but if my husband and I could change things we would not because it was his choice to be with his father and the rest of his “buddies.” I am so very proud of all the brave service personnel serving their country.

Name: Linda Hometown: Florissant, Missouri

Our last letter from our son was dated March 20, 2003. He sounded pretty upbeat, he always tell us something funny that is going on while he was waiting in Kuwait. Now he is in Iraq and his letter said, “Maybe by the time you read this I may already be dead.” That is very frightening to us as parents.

But it just shows you that their minds are always working on how this may turn out and that they want us to be prepared for anything as they have been taught in their supurb trainging.

Our son is 19 years old and in the 82nd Airborne Bravo Co. and he is a very proud American. We are so very proud of our brave soldier as we are of all the soldiers. I always end my letters to him, “Be strong, Be safe, Be Army.”

We send all of our love to him and we pray daily for all of our troops that are fighting for Iraqi Freedom.

Name: Lara Hometown: Cadiz, Ky

Along with every other wife on this block, and around the world I am just ready for my husband to come home. He left on the 28th of February, and he is in the 1st Battalion of the 101st Avn. Brigade out of Ft. Campbell.

We have three little girls that I have to be strong for, and try to help them to understand what is going on. They are five, three, and one, so I only have one that somewhat knows what is going on. It is hard, but our family is only an hour away from here. This is our second deployment, but the first was on easier terms. I try not to watch the television, because it only makes it worse.

I have gotten letters and two phone calls, but that was two weeks ago. I can only assume where he is and what he is doing, and just wait for the call to come pick him up from post.

Like everyone else, I have my good days and my bad days, and today is a bad one. My oldest is on spring break, you know, the time when families are supposed to travel. Instead, we sit and wait. Waiting for letters, phone calls, or even the news to say, “It is time to come home,” something to brighten up the day.

My best friend, who only lives two houses down just had a baby on the 28th of March. I had to go to the delivery room and play coach, because Daddy is also gone to Iraq. It was amazing and sad all in one. She has to go though this all alone, and that just stinks. I know she isn’t alone, but it stinks for all the women who have given birth to their first without the one who put them there to begin with. I mean who are they supposed to yell at?

The birth of her daughter just really hit home for me, but I know she will be fine. God is our strength, and He put us together to support each other in these times. I am thankful for her and all the other women on my block that are doing the same thing. Together all of us can overcome those bad days, and the kids driving us crazy.

When our husbands do come home, and after the newness wears off, all I can say is they are going to have to endure at least one week without us. The newness last at least a year though.

Name: Karen Hometown: Reynoldsburg, Ohio

My son Stephen is currently serving with the 101st Airborne Division in Iraq. Needless to say, like all other moms, dads, and spouses, we are scared, but we are extremely proud of him.

Steve never asked much from me and the day he called and told me he was leaving, he admitted to me he was scared. It broke my heart. He has never admitted that to me before not even as a child. And this was the first time I could not take care of that fear and yet he also wanted to go and he was proud to go and do this.

He is a gentle soul. He gets along with everyone and never carries a grudge or wishes ill on anyone and I hope with all my heart that that that gentle soul is not destroyed over there. We wear a picture of him on our hearts and continously pray for his and the safe return of all.

My husband was with the 101st Airborne Division in Fort Campbell when Steve was born, so it seems he has gone back to his roots. So we have a special feeling for the “Screaming Eagles.” Steve was always the “Screaming Eaglet!”

As a military wife myself and now a mother of a military “man” (and man he has to be now at the tender age of 19) I know how hard it is. The waiting and not knowing has to be one of the hardest things to do. I urge everyone to support each other and that is what can keep us going. I am proud to say that our town is so covered in yellow ribbons and flags, it gives you the greatest feeling knowing they care. The yellow ribbon does not just mean bring home POW’s. In the military world it means bring home all our troops. Our town hall has a yellow ribbon on every tree they could find and they have flags hanging on every telephone pole. People keep electric candles burning 24 hours so the men and women can find their way home.

I know how hard this is for his young wife. Today was their first anniversary and it is hard it is to be separated on such occasions.

But to everyone who is left behind waiting, yours is a very important role. You need to keep the homefires going. You need to keep the families together and support each other and take care of everything! You need to be Mom and Dad all rolled into one. You need to help the children understand and protect them from what you can. You need to keep their lives going smoothly and it is hard not to curl up on the couch and to keep from crying. In some ways you have to be stronger than those serving in the military. Guard your home front and keep it in harmony until it is time for that homecoming. No matter what you believe in this war, believe in our men and women.

Name: Piet Hometown: South Africa - Pretoria North

I am not from America but as I sit here and read the letters tears wells up in my eyes and I pray for each and every one, even the families. I was a soldier in the South African Army and I know the fear the longing. We miss our families. But what you are doing is noble and if ever we are called to join I would volunteer for such a just cause. God bless you and protect you all!

Name: Thomas Hometown: Lisbon, Portugal

As an immigrant who arrived in this great country 12 years ago, I am a proud member (and former Infantryman) of the Armed Forces of the United States. I am also a Democrat and a liberal. Nevertheless, I fully support every single man and woman in uniform fighting in Iraq.

I was a squad leader in the 4th ID back in 1998 and I miss every single soldier that worked for me. Some, are in Iraq right now and my prayers go to them and their families. Even if this war is the result of selfish goals prompted by the presidency, combat soldiers fight for each other. They don’t necessarily fight for the flag or the president. Feelings of patriotism come later usually, when its all over. Survival becomes the priority in a soldier’s life as does the goal of being reunited with loved ones. I am saddened by the loss of all those who perished in Iraq so far. The image of the father of a U.S. Marine holding the United States flag as he cries over his son’s coffin made me feel sad but angry at the same time.

I called the mother of a friend who is in Iraq today. I called from a government phone and when her mother picked up the phone her heart stopped. She began screaming and crying for she thought that I was about to give her bad news regarding her young daughter. I assured her that I was not the carrier of bad news and that I was only trying to find out if she had heard from her daughter.

Many Americans are spoiled. They grew up having everything, not knowing what it’s like to live in a totalitarian or fascist regime. Those who believe that peace in the world can be attained through diplomacy alone without the threat of military action, are living in a world of fantasy. Utopia does not exist nor will it ever exist. The idea of a world government presiding over a peaceful Earth exists only in the Star Trek television series. Those who protest the war should realize that freedom does not come free. It is OK to protest but lets do it for the right reasons.

Name: MMS Hometown: Clearlake CA

E-mail Love

I was talking with a man from arkansas which was in the army we were talking back an forth for sometime I never got his name we had plans to meet and are last online chat he told me that he was going to be sent off to war and now all I can do is pray for everyone to return home so I can meet the man behind those words I only wish I knew his name we only used nic names cause I was scared of meeting some psycho and now I may never know how he really was I seen his army pictures and read all the sweetness in his words God I pray please watch over all the men and women and bring them home safe and soon

April 2, 2003 / 4:40 PM ET Name: April Hometown: Killeen

I don’t know what to say. Since my husband, a Staff Sargeant with 13th Cos Com with the 664 out of Ft Hood, left this past Wednesday I feel like my heart has been ripped in half.

I am turning 23 this April 30th and will be here with my three-year-old and four-year-old alone, without my husband. Our four-year anniversary is coming up on the 12th and we are separated.

I know this is his job but that does not mean I have to like this part of it. I’m being strong for my kids but at night when they sleep I cry. We just moved here in late January. I don’t know anyone. What’s even harder is my best friend is gone away.

I pray every day and know deep down he will be back home safe, but it’s hard when I see the images on the news. I know though I have to be strong and wait until my hero, my soldier is home with his family.

Name: Gale Hometown: Columbia, South Carolina

My brother, Staff Sgt. (name withheld by editor), is the only son my mother has left. My older brother died in 1984 after being hit by a car, and our father died in 1979.

Prior to the war, I took my mother to Savannah, Ga., to visit her son, just in case my brother had to leave for war. We had dinner at his home, and we watched a movie together. We talked very little of the likelihood of war.

My brother and I had some time to spend alone talking about God and living right, and the importance of salvation. A week after visiting my bother, he was deployed to Kuwait in January.

My brother is a God-fearing man, and he is a special brother and son. I remember as a child how sick he used to be with asthma. On several different occasions, he was hospitalized and had to stay in an incubator. As a child, I didn’t think my little brother would live.

Who would’ve thought my brother would be in the Army after experiencing such trauma as a sick child and the loss of his father and brother?

My brother joined the Army to become a productive man in society as part of the solution for young fatherless boys. He was assured not to become part of society’s problem, and he’s never been a problem for my mother.

I am not saying this because he is my brother. Everyone who knows him, speaks very highly of his character. He’s a very good son and brother. He has a carefree spirit, and nothing ever seems to bother him. Rarely would anyone see my brother with a frown or sad. The majority of the time he is smiling.

This is his first participation in a war after serving his country for nearly 18 years. It’s a sad and devastating thing to think, “What if I lose another brother; my baby brother?”

We are very close, and my brother highly respects me. He used to tell me that I act like his mother, but he respected me because he knows that I love him. I told him in a card to never stop praying and believing that God will take care of him and bring him back home safely. For encouragement, I sent him some scriptures to read before the war began. I know my brother is praying and thinking of his family. He is also concerned about the pain we may experience if we lose him to this war.

My brother will survive this war for the sake of his family, and our love for him. Everyday, I either cry or fight back tears of pain hoping this war will be over soon, so my brother can return home to his mother and family. I pray my mother will never have bury another child or experience the loss of another son.

Name: Erica Hometown: Mount Vernon, Washington

I sit here at my computer just a couple of blocks from the U.S. Army European Headquarters in Heidelberg, Germany. Demonstrations are picking up and the number of protestors is growing. But when I go out into the German community I try to look and speak German. I try hard to conceal that I am an American for fear of being attacked.

This is a scary time, being a military spouse. Loved ones are deployed and I live in a foreign land where people don’t like Americans or agree with our government’s choices. Terrorist activity is a real threat. As one high ranking official said, “If you’re not paranoid you’re wrong.”

Though there are real threats to soldiers’ lives and potential threats to overseas family members’ lives, I still feel proud. I believe in American freedom. I am proud of the service members who risk their lives to uphold our freedoms. The American spirit is embodied in our soldiers’ strength, perseverance, acceptance, and honor. Without these people, freedom may not be possible.

I am so proud of what our soldiers are doing and I am so proud of the family members’ strength to support our soldiers.

Name: William Hometown: FT. Campbell, KY

As an ex-Army (if there is such a thing) soldier of the 101st Airborne Division, I know how hard it is to leave loved ones to go overseas into combat. This is one of my journal entries from Saudi that I wanted to share with you all:

“While many of us make it seem like it is an easy thing leaving you behind, the reality is just the opposite. We find ourselves thinking of you all often, when we can afford ourselves to do so, and we depend on you. We depend on our loved ones to give us the hope, and strength we need to make it home. There was a short firefight today, kinda scary, but we were ready. It is funny how now that I am thousands of miles away I think of all the things I wanted to say to you before I left. But I trust that you already know everything I would have said. We all sat around and talked about our wives and girlfriends today. It was nice to have someone to talk to about it. I hope your coping well being there without me, I hope I am home soon, as I already miss you. Well that’s enough for tonight, I have guard duty soon. Bye.”

Name: Alicia Hometown: Fairmont, West Virginia

I first met my husband when we were 12 years old. He and his mother moved to my hometown, and he was always so shy around me. When I was thirteen he asked me to be his girlfriend, and with time I accepted. At first I didn’t think much of the relationship, besides I was only 13.

When we were juniors in high school (still dating) my husband was contacted by an Army recruiter. He didn’t think much about it for a while. But the longer that he thought about it the more the option enticed him. He told me that he would join solely for our future together. He would only be gone for one weekend a month and two weeks over the summer. So he packed his bags and went through Basic Training. When he got back I was so proud to see him in his uniform. To see the man that he had become, that I had helped mold.

We graduated May 2001 then it was time for him to go through his AIT. I moved into our apartment that we picked out together, as he prepared for our future.

When he got back I was so ecstatic because we could start our lives together, and we got married. That was ten days before the towers went down. I was so afraid that he would get deployed, then as time passed I lost that fear, that was, until Feb. 5th 2003, the day that he got the call.

When he told me I could feel my world slowly falling apart. He has been here in the States now for a little over a month preparing for deployment to the Middle East, and tonight he called and told me he is leaving in two days. I got that familiar feeling of everything I’ve known and loved being ripped from my arms.

My husband is my everything. He is my strength, my best friend, and my soul mate. I want to be greedy and keep him here with me, but I know that God will send his angels to keep watch over him as well as the other soldiers and their families. And I know that I will soon be seeing the face that I love so much, soon.

Name: John Hometown: Hot Springs, Arkansas

I had been married three days when I arrived at Oakland, California on my way to Viet Nam. After a year I came home to my lovely brave new bride and attempted to start a life together on $300 a month.

While stationed in Virginia, my wife got pregnant with our first son, and I came down on orders to go to Panama. We stayed in Panama 22 months. A lot of that time I was gone and my poor wife was coping in a strange land with a new baby, unable to drive, 18 years-old and alone much of the time.

When my son was six months old my wife was pregnant again, and three months later I came down on orders to go back to Viet Nam. Since the doctor didn’t want her to fly after her sixth month she had to go back home early alone, and find a place to live. I finished my time in Panama and followed four months later. Our second son was due just before Christmas, so I came home the first part of December to be home for Christmas and for the birth of the baby.

Well, when you start planning things around babies they don’t always cooperate. The baby didn’t show up until the 6th of January. By then I’d been AWOL for a week. So two days after we bring the baby home from the Hospital I leave to go back to Viet Nam, and leave this brave wonderful young woman of 19 with a baby 15-months-old and another newborn.

After eight months in Viet Nam I was med-evac’ed, and got six months of convalescence leave. This is the first time we have really spent any time together as a family.

My next assignment was back to Virginia. After a year I came down on orders to go to Okinawa. So I left my family again and went to Okinawa to get a place to live and get set up.

It took four months before we had enough money saved and got everything set up for the wife and kids to come to Okinawa. The story of this young mother traveling half way around the world with two babies all by herself is another story. For this we’ll just say they made it safely and our two sons grew up to be fine young men.

Our youngest son was in Desert Storm, and came home safely, and the older son is a career officer stationed in Qatar for this operation.

The whole point of this narrative is that I have found that it is a lot easier to go to war than it is to see your sons going into harm’s way.

On a light side, if you send a bunch of GIs somewhere where there are no women and no booze they won’t be over there long.

Name: Sherry Hometown: Erie, Pa

It’s been almost one month since my son, I’ll call him Jet, boarded a plane from Ft. Bliss, Texas to “The Sandbox” {this is all he could tell me}! I can’t even explain the feelings I had, when I knew he had to go, but I didn’t know where because as a mom, my job has always been to protect, and that doesn’t seem to change no matter how old they get.

Most of the letters I read on here are from wives, so I just thought I’d give a mom’s point of view.

My heart aches for him. I find myself watching CNN or MSNBC every chance I get! And the other day on the Today Show with Matt Lauer, while he was broadcasting, there were soldiers holding signs that said Ft. Bliss! My heart about jumped out of my skin! Although I didn’t see Jet, at least I am pretty sure I know where he is now.

Thank You God! I not only pray for my own, I pray for all of yours to! That they all come home safe.

I’ll share with you the last words my son said to me before he left. He said, “You be strong Mom, hold your head high, and remember our good times.” And these are the words that get me through my days.

Name: Marie Hometown: Mobile

On the day of the countdown, my heart pounded at each ticking second. Then, when the order came for the troops to move in, my heart dropped and I couldn’t breathe. For the first time in my life I felt my world torn from under me without a warning. But you see that’s only the beginning. My fiancé hasn’t been called out to serve just yet. He is still waiting for the call, that’s the hardest part, the waiting. It seems like every second, every minute just weighs down on you. The fear is far worse that one can imagine. We’ve been so worried ever since the word was given.

My friend was killed in Iraq. He was one of the best guys I knew. We were good friends. He didn’t even get a chance to grow up and have his life. He didn’t get a chance to live fully. He was the only boy and the youngest of his family. I can’t imagine being his family right now. The pain of knowing I could loose so many people close to me is hard, it’s even harder imagining losing the man I love.

The hardest part of being with a military man is being strong, strong for him, for his family, and for my family. It’s just hard being strong. You wake up every morning praying that everything will be okay, be alright, and you keep that smile in place.

But inside you’re tearing up.

I love him so much and the thought of losing him just kills every part of me. When you see them go off, you never think you won’t see them come back. But the fear lies somewhere deep inside of you. I pray, I pray, I pray.

My biggest fear is seeing someone come to my door and tell me he’s gone, I don’t think I’ll be able to handle that. Now I know how my friend’s family feels.

In Howie I lost a good friend and confidant. I lost my joy and laughter. He was always making me laugh and making me smile. He was the first friend I had in the U.S.A. He was lively and great. I wish he wasn’t gone, I wish somehow it wasn’t true.

I’ll attend his funeral. It hurts. I pray for him and his family. I also pray for the families of all those who’ve lost a loved one, or whose loved one is a POW. I pray for you and I sympathize in your moment of grief.

I support our troops, I hope they come back safe. I pray this war ends soon so that there is no more grief. No more tears. I know it’s hard, so I pray God give us each strength to bear this through. God Bless each of us. God bless each of our troops. God bless America.

Name: Krista, Andrew, and MadisenHometown: San Jose, CA

My husband’s dad was killed on Sept. 11, 2001; he was a passenger on flight 93. We miss him and we want justice. I cry while I watch the news because it’s bittersweet. Although, I know that the Pres. made the right decision. I also know that there will be others (parents, children, and spouses) who will feel the pain that we do; the pain of the death of a loved one. May God bless you all and we thank you so much for your sacrifice.

Name: April Hometown: San Diego, CA

I am deeply sympathetic to Tamara’s situation. My husband was called into action on our honeymoon. We had to cut our trip short in order for him to get his things prepared. I knew there was a chance of his leaving, I just didn’t expect it to come so soon.

In addition to the fact that we were just married, I found out last week that I am pregnant with twins. Clint was overwhelmed when I told him! It was the first thing out of my mouth, even before hello. Those phone calls have such a poor connection that I was afraid I would loose him before I told him.

I stand 200% behind my husband and the others with him. I am prepared to wait for him no matter how long it takes, I only wish he didn’t have to watch his children grow through video and film.

Name: Diana Hometown: Mass, USA

A todos nuestros soldados: Acabo de ver la historia de Tamara, la cual se repitio en muchos hogares de nuestra nacion y las lagrimas me brotaron. Aunque no estoy de acuerdo con esta situacion belica, quiero que sepan que tienen todo mi apoyo.

Note: To translate this, use the Babelfish translator

Name: Demetrio Hometown: Boncourt

Hello here’s Demetrio from Boncourt in Switzerland. Early in the morning (we are now 0430 a.m.). I’d like to thank to the allied forces and their governements which includes substantially the U.S. Army and the U.K. armed forces who struggle and risk their life (on the TV I can see that the ground based battles as usual have already started their battles because in Iraq the sun is going up now. The scenes in the desert are quite mystical and impressing. I also have a thought of the war reporters which risk their lives doing their jobs.

Name: Phuong Hometown: CA

Hello my dear. My English not well, and I hope the U.S. win, win, win. God bless America. Thanks.

Name: Epaul Hometown: Bahamas

Dear Tamara,

I’ve kept up with your journal for the past week now and every time I’ve read them I got emotional. Why? Because I have a husband of two years plus and when ever I read your thoughts, fears and concerns I picture it being my husband. We’re no different, it just your time for your love to be tested and everyone one day would have to walk in your steps. So I share your pain daily, every time I watch the news and listen to soldiers who are missing, killed or held captive, my heart hurts for the families listening and watching.

I’m not an American but I have one thing in common with every soldier, spouse, mother, sister, brother, etc, we’re all humans and that’s more important than any culture, race or nationality.

Tamara, you and your unborn are in my prayers along with the families and soldiers of the U.S.A.

Remember, the Lord is the God of all comfort who is able to comfort you in this your time of need. Draw near to Him. 2 Corinthians 1:3

Name: MadeleineHometown: Guam

We the Islanders are praying each and every day for the safe return of all military personnel out there fighting the war, to return safely back to their hometown and most especially to their love ones. May the good Lord bless you all. Adios.

Name: Shannon Belle Hometown: NC, Durham

I’m an American teen in Kuwait. I have lived here for around six to seven years, and there is one thing that my blind American people over at home never seem to notice. Iraqi families live in Kuwait. I have Iraqi friends, none of whom hate Americans. All are against this war.

The Arabic TV programs showing the dead marines hurt and burnt my soul. I saw one with a ring on his finger and thought, “Oh my God he has a family.” Those troops should never have been sent to Iraq. Shame on you Bush!

The blood of those men and women in Iraq are on his hands. He shows no emotions on CNN or BBC not even on FOX. Iraq never asked for help nor did they want it. If greed is all Bush can offer in his years in office then I think you should cut his years in office short and send him into combat. Let him feel what the U.S. troops have to feel and go through.

I am so sorry, America. I am so sorry that our families have to suffer a fate not fit for our lives. I am sorry for the wife of that Marine I saw. This is a lesson to my sister and my cousin in North Carolina that I have been trying to prove true and worth learning. The tests in life are hard and tough to all. The hardest tests set by God are always on the strongest people. Bush is not one of them.

I lost my father to a F-117 crash and all I got from the government was a “Sorry” and an insurance contract. My mom is angered by what she sees and she is extremely depressed because now Americans aren’t safe anywhere around the world — not even at home. No one should go through this. All of you support your troops but I don’t. Why should we support them in a pointless unwinning war?

War never has winners. In the end, both sides loose.

Name: Julie Hometown: Melbourne Victoria (Australia)

I’m over here in Australia feeling totally useless when it comes to comforting and supporting a friend or relative who needs it. I don’t know anyone personally who is putting their lives at risk, and acting with such bravery, courage, and skill as all the Allied Forces have already well shown themselves to be.

At the very best, I got engaged to my fiance, to be married in June. He is an ex-tankie in the Army who was discharged due to medical grounds in 1997.

The onset of war has had its own effects too, in this house. We have four children between us and all ask the same question, “Is he going to be called up again and are we safe?”

We have stayed up all night watching every network trying to decipher what’s really going on. My fiance was well trained, and sees and understands the implications of the unfolding events a little more than the rest of us and is concerned or relieved (whichever is appropriate for that moment) to a far greater extent.

We have lost our focus somewhat. This is supposed to be a happy time as we plan our wedding day yet we almost feel guilty as we see what is going on in the world around us. If the women whose husbands are in Iraq are expecting babies and coping alone then they are as brave and courageous as the soldiers they love. Braver than I.

Name: Sheldon Hometown: Seabird Island

I’m 10 years old and I like to watch the war. You must like to bomb people. I would. After school I watch Countdown Iraq with my dad. Well I have to go now. Goodbye.

Name: Emi

Sono con voi, forza America...

Note: To translate this, use the Babelfish translator

Name: Maria Hometown: Philippines

I have an ex-boyfriend who has been in the Army for a decade now I guess, and until now he still a part of me though we both have moved on.

I’ve been thinking about him and where he is now. I am thinking that he got deployed to Iraq and if not, I am praying for him and his safety.

Most of all I am praying for all the soldiers in the world that instead of fighting through bullets why don’t we fight for peace w/love and prayers?

And to Thomas K. wherever you are now, I love you and I will pray for you.

Name: Agnes Hometown: St. Croix, United States Virgin Islands

My 19 year-old granddaughter has two kids and she was deployed last week to South Korea. I am very scared, but I am praying that God will protect her and everyone who is serving our great country. God bless America.

Name: Lana Hometown: Honolulu, Hawaii

My husband spent 30 years in the submarine service. I have a daughter and two sons-in-law, a brother-in-law and a nephew in the service. My daughter and husband were in the Persian Gulf War at the same time.

I understand the feelings of the wives and husbands left behind to cope and be the home front strength. Many civilians (not all) do not understand the deep pride and loyalty the military families have for this wonderful country (I am from another country).

America is a wonderful country full of wonderful people. Freedom is a precious gift and worth fighting for. For all the spouses at home waiting I pray for you all everyday. God bless America.

Name: Lisa Hometown: Fiji

To think about war is frustrating, and scaring. My brother and my fiancé are out there in the Middle East. It is a heartbreaking to wonder whether will I ever meet them again? Even when I’m a Christian I’m still worried about them and my heart tickles to hear that some are wounded, some are dead and even caught. All I do know is send them e-mail and encourage them and pray for them when ever I think of them.

To all our brothers and sisters out there, we a proud of you and do not forget to witness your God out there. That’s his field.

You are all in our prayers. May our good God lead you, guide you, and protect you wherever you are and we trust and have faith that we will meet again someday.

March 25, 2003 / 5:26 PM ET Name: Virginia Hometown: Newport News, VA

I’m married to a Navy Man, 27 years in April. All 27 years of our marriage my husband has been in the military.

I recently was asked how “I” did it — the away periods, the worry? My answer is my love for my husband and the respect for his military job.

Times aren’t always easy, I will admit that much. We’ve raised two children throughout his military service, both are now grown and one is in the Air Force. At one point in these last few months both my husband and the son in the military was over in the Zone at the same time, however, their paths never crossed...

I received an e-mail from my husband who told me he had his gear, and he knew how to use it, and for me not to be scared! He also added how proud he was of his shipmates, and that his unit was all OK.

I leave his fate in the hands of God, and I pray that he envelops him from harms way.

However, I e-mailed my husband and told him that if our lives together should be cut short, that I have had a wonderful life with him, that he is a wonderful husband and father, and I love him with all my heart. I have no regrets.

While e-mail messages and phone calls have been far and few between, he responded by e-mail to say he felt the same way about me and he loved me very much, too.

My husband and all our military members serving our great country remain in my thoughts and prayers daily.

Name: Kim Hometown: West Virginia

I am sharing the worries with the rest of the United States. My brother, who is three years younger than I, was deployed in November of last year and I haven’t talked to him except by e-mail. Now, I can’t even do that.

I tried to get to the airport where he had a layover, but was unable to get there. Now, I regret it. I think about and pray for him and everyone else over there defending our country everyday!

Bubba, I just want you to know that I am very proud of you. I love you and miss you very much!

Name: J.G.G. Hometown: Ocean Springs, MS

I was counting down the days and there were 42, to be exact. I was counting down the days of anticipation of a beautiful wedding planned for May 10, 2003.

My fiancé is a Chief Petty Officer and Independent Duty Corpsman who was called to duty on March 24 to join forces to provide medical support for a Naval Mobile Construction Battalion that will leave the states shortly for the war efforts.

My heart is very heavy. My heart is with him, he is my soul mate and best friend. I pray that God brings my groom back to me and that the many troops fighting find victory and return to their loved ones.

I remain hopeful to have our spring wedding, even if it is in the cold of winter, because his safe return will bring the sun’s shining rays, warm and beautiful.

Name: Kim Hometown: New Jersey

My fiancé was just deployed and it is breaking my heart that the man I adore and cherish will possibly not return to me. I’m usually a positive person but the recent events have changed my outlook. He is the best thing that has ever happened to me. He makes me laugh. His smile sweeps me off my feet every time I see him.

My happiness began when he entered my life. He is a noble, intelligent, loving, dedicated, strong and respectful man who anyone could call friend.

When the call came in I still thought there wouldn’t be a war. When he arrived at Fort Dix, I still thought...no war. When he called to say his final “goodbye,” I still thought...no war. Well, now he’s gone and I’m here waiting for his return.

My prayers are long and passionate for his safety and the safety of all of our troops. I am grateful for their support and the freedom they fight for and the humanitarian in all of them.

A yellow ribbon is hung in front of my home, on my car, and in my office. Though I find it difficult at times to deal with, I must believe that he (they) will return unharmed. God bless them all and may God keep you strong throughout this ordeal.

Name: R.P. Hometown: California

My son is a LCDR in the navy. I am a retired navy. I am not originally from this country. I have nothing much to say except my prayers go to our troops who protect this country and support the decision of our president.

This beautiful country, whom everybody dreamt to be on her soil will survive because of our troops, men and women protectors. God bless our troops and this country.

Name: Chris Hometown: Midlothian, VA

Last year I came back into the Army to fight for my country after Sept. 11. I spent just under six months fighting in operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Anaconda. I was on the front line and became involved in several long fire fights, sometimes a little too close for comfort.

This was my first time in eight years in service that I had to do my job, and fight, not just for my life, but for my country. This was hard on all of my family and friends, but the support that I received from them all made me stronger.

Have faith and hope, we are trained well and we will prevail. Even though this time in your life is tough, you have to be strong for your loved one. A chain is as only as strong as its weakest link.

God bless your family members, and for the troops, stay strong and fight well! Bring glory upon yourself and your country.

Name: LCpl Aviles M. Hometown: Cleveland, OH

My best friend was deployed and sent to the Middle East about two months ago. He called me from Camp Pendelton about a week prior to tell me he was leaving. We caught up with old times and he told me his wife, Sarah, was four months pregnant.

I have written two letters since he left and I have not heard from him. It’s even more frustrating that my best friend and fellow Marine is getting shot at and I am not there to bring him back to his wife and soon to be newborn child.

I wish you luck brother and I can’t wait to see you back home again. To the rest of the Marines and Troops in the Middle East, take care, be safe, stay low and Semper Fi.

Name: Eryn Hometown: Hope Mills, NC

Hi, I am a 21-year-old army brat. My father is a retired Special Forces medic, 3rd group and was stationed in Fort Bragg N.C. He is not participating in the war because he is retired.

He does, though, wish he was there with his fellow brothers. You can see it on his face when he watches the news. There is a bond with the men that are out there that many people do not take into consideration. They are a tight family, not their real family, but brothers of the military. They are there to do a job and get it done and come home. They will not all come home, but all of them that don’t will be missed terribly by their group members and their family and friends.

My father was always gone, he was in Africa at least nine months out of the year, going to Haiti and Rwanda and many more countries I’m sure that I am not aware of. I am 21 years-old and my father has only been with me for six of my birthdays. My mother has shared only five of their anniversaries together.

The pain of separation is hard, and the loss of a loved one is even harder. I support our military and know that they are there for the people they care about so much at home.

We, the United Sates, have been through so much in the past 10 years, with the Gulf War and the wars we stopped in places that many people don’t know about, like Haiti. We have men out there who are trying to make sure nothing hits home again like 9/11. I love them for that and respect them even more.

I have had a short child hood with my father, but to see him want to be apart of something so awful because first he is great at being a soldier, but also because he loves his country and holds a high respect for those who are actively participating in the current war we are all going through now.

I have cried often for those families that are at home watching in fear that the next message under the big picture on TV is going to be about their loved ones not coming home, and then I say to myself, “Thank God my dad is not there.” And then when I see him he waits for there to be a draft so he can be out there, a part of the family he was once a part of. That, to me, is a proud soldier and a supporter for all those who think that there is no hope.

My dad is my hope in all this, and if it comes to a draft I will be sad, but I know my dad will be doing what he has always done: fought for freedom -and not for us usually, but for those third world countries that can’t do it them selves. I am proud of our military and our families. I only wish that those who are missing loved ones and those who have lost loved ones, can find peace and harmony and will stop hurting, My thoughts of love and sympathy are with all of them. We will get through this as a nation and also as a family of the United Sates.

Name: Angie Hometown: NJ

My sister is in the Army Reserves and when she was deployed in February my family was heartbroken. But not more so than when the president announced that we actually were in war.

We have found it very hard to cope with the uncertainty of not knowing what to expect. Everyone says have faith, but all the feelings in me are of deep sadness for what is happening and I’m scared for what might happen. To know that we already have soldiers down, disappeared, or captured by people that have no idea what love is gives me much anger.

But then, to read these letters of the families of other soldiers and know what they are feeling brings me back to life and, in a weird way, strength and hope. We are all joined by one same feeling and all in joined by one great faith. My prayer goes out to all our U.S. soldiers and the hope to have them all back safe. God bless you and give you the strength we all desperately need.

Name: Kathryn Hometown: Franklin, NC

Someone asked me yesterday if I had “anyone” in the field in Iraq or Afghanistan. I answered, as always, that we all have someone in the field — each and every soldier there is our someone. My thoughts and prayers follow them all. I have never been more proud to be an American.March 21, 2003 / 3:07 PM ETName: Ruth Hometown: Cincinnati, Ohio

My husband deployed only one week ago, and my heart aches every day. I have three children at home, and he has three more out of state. I find myself feeling so sorry for myself at times that I don’t think my heart can stand anymore, yet it has only been one week.

I have to go on, for the kids, and show them that I believe in what he’s doing, and am very proud of him as well as all of the other service men/women who are fighting for us. I have to keep in mind, the words my husband said as he left, I’m going to do my job in hopes that our children will not have to one day.”

My thoughts and prayers are with all the men and women as well as their families that have been left behind. Just remember, keep the faith!

Name: Big Sister Hometown: Arizona

It’s not my husband who’s in Kuwait, it’s my “baby” brother (21 years old). Wives aren’t the only ones with that fear inside them and the longing to have their loved one back at home.

My dad, mom and I, as well as my brother’s wife and 2 babies (ages two and one) pray for a safe and quick return.

I’m eight years older than my brother and I’ve always looked out for him. I’ve always been a “Mother Hen” to him and it’s hard for me to know he’s out there and I can’t help keep him safe.

Family and friends assure me that everything will be fine, keep positive, but I can’t help but have this sick feeling in my stomach and the pulsating sounds in my head when I hear new updates on the news.

My father was in the military but by the time I was born he was already out. Therefore, I’m not familiar with the military life at all. All I can hope for is that he stays strong, focused and keeps us close in his heart at all times.

Baby brother, I just want you to know that I love you and I pray for you to come home and don’t worry about your babies, we’ll keep them safe for you.

Love you cheechan,

Your big sister

Name: Reina of Your Heart Hometown: Pasadena, Texas

Fear has overcome all of my senses. My eyes are bloodshot, my tongue has gone rancid and dry, my nose no longer smells the sweet, and my ears hear nothing as I wait for the telephone to ring.

You have been gone for a while now they say, but I say you’ve been away an eternity. You always said, “The American government is the greatest in the world and that is why I became part of it by joining the Corps.”

There is a birthday on the horizon, you will be 26 on March 29. I think I’ll bake you a cake, German Chocolate just like you like it. How the sweet will be so bitter without you here.

I love you Jason, you are my life as I hope I am yours. I will see you when you come home. Sooner than later, I hope.

Name: Melisa Hometown: Austin

My brother just turned 20. He is my only brother and can’t imagine what it would be like without him. My mom cries everyday which leaves me to comfort not only her, but to deal with that question: What if he doesn’t come back home?

My son is seven and just yesterday he said, “Mom, I just had to pray, I had to pray for Uncle James.” Well, I can’t explain how that felt coming from him at seven years-old.

All we can do now is pray. Pray for our troops who are out there fighting and know with God’s help they will return home soon.

Name: Lisa Hometown: Lincoln, CA

My brother John is on the carrier the U.S.S. Constellation and all I seem to be able to think about is how he might not make it home. I can’t concentrate at school or at work.

I support President Bush 100 percent, but I don’t like the war. I don’t like the thought of never seeing my brother again. He has always been my protector and I can see that he is my protector now. I miss him and hope he comes home alive along with all of our other troops.

May God bless America, our troops and Sailor John.

I love you, bro.

Name: Andrea Hometown: Cincinnat

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I’m a 31 year-old old woman from Cincinnati, Ohio. My heart goes out to all of the soldiers and families. My story is a bit unusual. My mother has been deployed. My mother is a SSG with the 801st Combat Support Hospital. She’s currently training in Georgia and is not certain where she’s going to be sent.

She has been a reservist in the Army for nearly 17 years now. She has been a Lab Tech for several years and has recently become a Nurse.

It is sometimes difficult for me with her being gone. I am married and have a five-year-old daughter who is crazy about “Grandma.” How do I explain to her that Grandma is away and why? She knows that Grandma is a soldier and has visited her on base in the past.

I have not mustered up the strength to explain to her that Grandma is helping out with the war. She can’t escape the images of war on the TV and has not asked any questions about it yet.

My prayers are with the men and women in the armed forces. I support our troops and pray for safe return home.

Name: Denise Hometown: Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

Being a mother, I have protected my children from a lot of growing pains such as bruises, bullies, broken hearts, etc. Now that my oldest son is so bravely fighting this war, I am totally crippled and helpless in trying to comfort him and protect him from all the hurt and pain that something of this magnitude can bring.

I see his eyes at night.

Name: Michele Hometown: Nashville TN

I have been trying to pass the time playing with my children. I think my situation is different from a lot of women, but not all. My husband and I are stationed in Germany, so I don’t really have the support of my family or my country. Over here, you can’t really go to the local coffee shop and see the appreciation of your local community. Over here we leave the base gates to demonstrations, and protest. It really makes me feel alone, and isolated, and I worry about the effects on my children.

The one comfort that I have is that my husband is serving our country, and that he is happy to do it. We are proud of him, and proud of all service men and women. We pray for their safe return, and pray for the families who have lost family members.

Name: Daniel Hometown: Gulfport, Ms.

As a Viet Nam veteran, I understand the strain on family and friends for their husbands, wives, brothers, sisters, etc. are gone to do what is called upon them by their country.

As one from the past, keep that mail going, e-mails, anyway you can. Always let them know how much you love and miss them. The best medicine is a care package of love from family and friends. Just knowing you’re loved and not forgotten makes it all worthwhile.

God Bless our men, women, and our allies. Most of all, God Bless America. Keep your prayers coming, all need them!

March 18, 2003 / 1:46 PM ETName: BrittnieHometown: Seaside

My story is a lot like Tamara’s. I am 17. I am 10 weeks pregnant, and my fiancé is leaving this next weekend to train for war. After that, we don’t know. Since we are not married, I do not get the benefits that I would get if we were married.

I will tell you though that it is hard enough being 17 and pregnant. The way people look at me, the way they judge my situation. I had never thought that I might have to do this all alone. I need my fiancé, I need my best friend. Otherwise I am all alone in this.

Labor, delivery, raising a baby to be five months old by the time Daddy comes home — if Daddy comes home at all.

Dealing with this is going to be a day-to-day thing. If I think about it all at once I am going to be overwhelmed. I just pray this will all be over soon so our fathers, husbands, brothers, our men, will all come home safely, and soon.Name: Soldier in KuwaitHometown: Fort Campbell, KYHome of the 101st Screaming Eagles

This is all too common among soldiers and their families. My wife has our two boys ages 2 and 8 months to tend to along with two big dogs, a new house and her new job.

I can’t gain access to e-mail all the time, the phone lines are at least a two hour wait and mail takes two weeks, but no packages can be mailed yet.

I will admit that spirits are high and we the soldiers support President Bush all the way. When he calls on me I’ll do what it takes to make it home and see my family again.Name: BrandyHometown: Cochran, Ga

It has been three weeks since my husband left Fort Campbell and boarded a plan for Kuwait. It seems like months that he has been gone, because I had only had my soldier back home with us for seven months.

My husband served in Afghanistan from January 2001 to August 2001. We have only lived here at Ft. Campbell just a year now and out of this whole time I have only had my husband live with us for around eight months.

Our children and I have pretty much been here alone in a new place, it is so hard to not have him here, we have two children. Our daughter is six years old and our son is three years old. It is so hard to see your children to go through with this and know what their father is doing. Instead of watch cartoons they beg to watch CNN or jump at the sound of the news on the radio when they are speaking about the war in Iraq.

It may seem they are so young but it is sad to see my children have come to have this as a means to get a piece of their dad’s life and in hope to hear about their daddy and the troops.

I tell you, it takes a very strong person to live the lives we lead knowing that we can lose our loved one, yet be so proud that our soldier is protecting our country. There is no greater pride than to say I am a proud Army wife.

I know that without my strength and commitment to my husband, this will power him to fight the fight and come back home to us safely. I pray every day for the safety of our troops. God bless them and our military families. For I am a Silent Warrior. “Behind every soldier, stands a Silent Warrior.”

Name: Peg Hometown: Omak, WA

Hearing and reading the stories of wives who are left behind in a war situation brings back vivid memories of 1966 when the Army’s 4th Division deployed to Vietnam. I was a bride of three weeks and the last good-byes, seeing my husband and all his outfit get on a bus and myself walking away to drive off in my car is the exact same scenario being played again years later. Makes me wonder how many times over thousands of years this has happened?

Name: Amy Hometown: Clarksville, TN

My husband has also deployed with the 3/187 infantry regiment. He is with HHC. He deployed last year with Delta Company to Afghanistan and each deployment doesn’t get any easier.

Our objective when he came home in early fall was also to have a family but I guess he was not home long enough to do so.

The Rakkassans are a tough group and being a spouse doesn’t make it any easier. As soon as you think they are back in the States safe again, something happens and off they go. Those are a tough group of guys who train hard and love their missions. They are all heroes to me. I pray for all of them. You’re in my heart SSG! Rakkassans!

Name: Christina Byrd Hometown: Nashville, TN

My name is Christina and I was married to an Army sergeant in Ft. Cambell. We were married for a year after dating for two years, then divorced for a little over a year due to being too young and getting married for all the wrong reasons. We got back together (I realized he is the love of my life and that he never gave up on me) about six months ago.

When we got married the first time I talked him into getting out of the Army, knowing a day like this would come if he stayed in. I had never been around military in my life and was selfish. My greatest fear was for someone to come to my doorstep and inform me that the only man I have ever loved is a casualty of war. I didn’t want to face that fear of war as I am now.

When we divorced, he returned to the Army, as that was all he knew. I faced the fears with him when we got back together and I vowed to do everything I could to stand behind him as I was and am very proud of what it is that he does.

He left with the 101st about two months ago and I had told him when he left that I would be here for him when he returned. My heart was crushed, as was his, when he left, both of us realizing that we may never again see one another. It was very hard after all that we had been through and realizing how very much we love one another and need each other.

I have remained very strong through everything. Learning as much as I can about the war and the enemies we face. I have researched everything I can and followed his whereabouts as best as I can. I pray everyday and keep the faith that he will return home soon.

I have yet to hear from him as I have written several times, but I know in my heart that we are soul mates and he will come home soon.

We have faced so many battles, trials and tribulations, yet even through divorce we remained together for over four years now.

I recently bought my first home by myself and am saddened that he is not here to share that with me, but he will have a home when he returns and he will always have the love he’s dreamed of.

I just want to say that I admire anyone who has family, or friends overseas or even defending us here in our homeland. It is so hard not knowing what is to come, knowing that the war could tear you apart. God is with us as he is with them and I do know in my heart that everything will be fine. Our family and friends will come home and the world as we know it will be a better place because of the pain we go through and the fear they feel now. I wish to send my love to the families and friends and to our soldiers who fight the battles we cannot -for having the strength in their hearts to carry out our dreams of a better future. God bless each and every one and may God’s guardian angels be there fighting along side, no matter what battle it is you are fighting.

Name: Melissa Hometown: East Bridgewater, MA

We are stationed in Vicenza, Italy. My husband is in 74 LRS, part of the 173rd Airborne Brigade. He left on Thursday, March 14, headed for Pisa. I have not spoken to him since then. As of today, the 17th, I do not know if he is even still in Italy. With war looming closer, the uncertainty of it all is driving me crazy. I have a physical ache in my heart and I feel that it will not go away until he is in my arms again.

Name: Shannon Hometown: West Palm Beach

Never did I think that when I got married to the man of my dreams, that I would end up a single mother over and over again. Throughout our marriage, my husband has been deployed on five separate occasions. By far though, this one is the worst.

We have a nine-year-old son who worships his father. Now Mommy is going to Boy Scouts and coaching baseball. Not quite the same to him, but we do what we must and try to make the most of it.

We also have a 15-year-old daughter, who has her first boyfriend. Not the same for Mom to sit down and have a talk with him. I am not sure he really took me seriously.

But, what are we supposed to do? We get up every morning, we get the kids off to school, we go to work, etc. and we wait for the day that our spouses return. I knew when I married this man that he had a commitment that was unbreakable. He is committed to serving his country and making our country a better place for his family to live. Do we miss him? More than anything in this world. But as he does his part to serve our country, our family will do ours.

March 14, 2003 / 6:55 PM ETName: ErinHometown: Fallbrook, CA

My husband, a lance corporal in the USMC, was deployed on January 15, 2003. I am active duty USMC as well, and eight months pregnant. My husband is going to miss the birth of his first son, and to make matters worse, four months after I deliver our child, I will be joining my husband in Kuwait to defend our country and giving our four-month-old son to my mother, his legal guardian in that case.

Name: Nicole Hometown: Fresno

I am an active duty women. I am preparing for my second deployment in less than a year. It’s very hard to be so far from home. Yet, we have a duty to perform and we know that doing so protects the ones we are away from.

I’m currently lending a hand to another active duty woman who is at home right now. Her husband is deployed; they have a three-month-old baby. Their first. I cannot describe the strength I see in that woman.

To continue working long hours, raise a wonderful child, and cope with the loneliness… She does this all while facing the fact that she may leave before her husband comes home; their child will have to go to a family member’s home.

I strongly applaud the military wives, but I give a standing ovation to the wives that are active duty themselves!

Name: Ivy Hometown: Chesterfield, VA

Boy, this is really hard! My husband, a major in the Army Reserve, was deployed January 2003 to Kuwait. I thought he was joking when he called me at work to let me know what was going on.

We have a 11-year-old son and one-year-old canine daughter, Koffee. We’ve really relied on the support of family and friends during such uncertainty.

Saying goodbye to him at the airport was the most difficult thing I’ve ever done in my life. Seeing my son so affected was devastating. We sat in the airport parking lot just holding one another. Reassuring one another that we can get through this, that Daddy will return home safe and hopefully soon. I get emotional just remembering it all.

My husband has always cherished his Army career and I know that he will do his very best. We pray that he comes home to us.

I just had to write today after reading about other lives affected. You really can’t comprehend the affects until it touches you.

Name: Christen Hometown: 3d ID Wife

I feel the pain of all the families who have written in, but couldn’t be prouder to be a part of that elite group of military spouses. My civilian friends try to understand how it must feel to go through my first pregnancy alone or sleep with every phone right by my pillow, so I don’t miss a call. Unfortunately, they won’t ever get it.

I find consolation in the empathy and steadfastness of my newest and deepest friendships. These friendships are with the other spouses who have been left behind to endure their pregnancies, or raise their children alone, or just make it day to day without word from their life’s partner. I am truly blessed to be surrounded by such strong women.

I couldn’t help but respond, being a friend of Tamara’s. She is such an inspiration and has become such a good friend during this most difficult deployment. To befriend someone else whose husband has missed every birthday and anniversary in your two year marriage creates a bond between girlfriends that you can’t even explain.

Now, as I go through this pregnancy without my husband, I lean on my new “battle buddy” and dream of the day when our husbands will be home to fill that void.

It’s definitely the reunions that make the separations seem worthwhile. Any military spouse knows the feeling of anticipation and pure giddiness when they see their soldiers face again for the first time. It’s incredible.

We all want peace, of course, but I trust and support our great nation’s leaders. I truly believe they want what is best for this country. To know our husbands, brothers, sisters, fathers, mothers are the ones who are called to support this cause is a great honor.

Peaceful demonstrations are a constitutional right, and I don’t get angry about them either...YET. I just pray that when all is said and done, if we go to war, these Americans with the freedoms to protest, will form again to rally behind those men and women who lay their lives on the line so we can all be so free.

I am proud to be an Army Wife and I will wait and not lose faith.

Name: Doreen Hometown: California

I am a mother of three and all three of my children are in the active duty Army. All married, two out of the three have children of their own. I can say that as military families we expect anything, but to go to war just because we have the power to declare war is heartless. It is our loved ones that are being sent to be killed, not the love ones of the people who are declaring this war. Why are we having war with Saddam? Where is Osama?

Name: Sarah Hometown: McGuire AFB

To all the wives,

I know what you are going through — I was a military brat and have been a military wife for six years now. I have had one anniversary with my husband in that time, so that gives you an idea of how much he is deployed.

It is hard. You have to do everything yourself. You have to find ways to explain the separations to your children, and when the lawn mower won’t start, you have big problems! — especially if you live on base.

Just remember our men that we love and honor are protecting what we hold dear, and as difficult as it is, I am so proud of them.

And I am proud of us too. We keep things going, we give them a reason to live in tents, and eat MRE’s, and have none of the comforts of home.

Girls, when you are feeling down, just remember you have sister here. Keep the faith!!

Name: Christy Hometown: Six Mile, S.C.

It has been four months since my husband Paul left for Kuwait. We have a 15 and 2 year-old.

We miss you so much.

I have been very fortunate he has been able to call me everyday. It has helped me get through every day just hearing his voice. Our baby loves to look at his pictures. We are able to e-mail him also.

I am so proud of him for what he is doing for our country. I pray for him and the other men and women who are away from their families also. I can not wait until he gets to come home! I can not even begin to tell how I miss him so much!

It seems like when he first left all I could do was sit at home and cry, but I could tell when he would call that he would be so worried, so now I just fight it back to whenever we hang up. I just feel so alone.

Please keep us in your prayers and remember all of our wonderful soldiers!

Name: Lisa Hometown: stationed at Ft. Stewart, Georgia, hometown Dover, Delaware

I am a Army wife of three years. This fall my husband and I had only two weeks to prepare. We had originally had orders to Alaska and I thought for sure that they weren’t going to take him, but I was very wrong.

This is not my first deployment but it is to be the hardest, especially not having any contact and not knowing when they will return home and thinking of the possibilities of war and such things. It makes me wish that we had planned to have kids a lot sooner than we did. Not having any luck before he left made it hard but I am fine and very confident and I have many friends and stay active in the FRG.

It was hard the day my husband left because I had watched him pack and tried to help and it just hurt even more. The day he left it was so hard not being able to go with him to where they would leave from and saying good-bye at the house instead.

My FRG leader asked him if he wanted me to be there when he left and he said no. That had to be a hard decision to make. He knows me very well and I am an emotional person. It would have torn me even more to see him go from there and to see every one else also leave.

It hit home a few days later when I went from staying with a friend only to realize I was all alone and would be for a long time. So I am just glad that we got to say goodbye in private. We are booth very young, he 24 and I 21. We will have fall birthdays and a fall anniversary, which he hopes to be home for.

I don’t hear from him much, not even a letter, but I am always replaying the message he left on my cell phone. I am hoping things will go well and I say a prayer every night for us and the other soldiers and spouses and have great faith in the Lord.

Name: Ava Hometown: New Cannan, CT

I spend my days working and checking my emails a zillion times a day looking for emails from my boyfriend. He is at FT Drum, New York but still we have little contact.

Last night when I got home my father asked me if I had heard from him. I told him no, then he told me that there was crash in Ft. Drum and 11 were killed. As of now I have sent him various e-mails, but I haven’t had any reply. I’m afraid he could one of the 11 that were killed. I can only hope he is still alive.

I feel for all American families who are affected by this horrible situation, and I pray every day that our loved ones will come back to us safe.March 11, 2003 / 11:32 AM ETName: SandyHometown: Bonnylake

My daughter’s husband is in the army. He was told the other day he was being sent out. So Sunday morning we went though the hugs and goodbyes. My five-year-old grandson took it very hard. It took us two hours to calm him down. The two-year-old was a lot easier. She does not understand yet.

The hard part is that he was on lockdown on base and was supposed to leave today. To our surprise he showed up back at home and is now on standby due to a lack of planes at this time to take them. He will leave in the next 72 hours.

This whole thing makes my daughter very happy for a few more days with him, but the thought of having to watch my grandson’s heart get broken again in a few days is horrible.

Name: Luz Hometown: Chicago

My family and I are currently taking care of my sister’s five-month-old son. She is on her way to Kuwait. She shipped out this morning from Fort Bragg in North Carolina. I feel the sadness creep up every time I look into Angel’s (my nephew) big beautiful eyes. His father will be leaving at the end of the month.

We don’t have much to offer Angel but we try our best. We know that his mommy and daddy are leaving to protect him, their families, and their country. We didn’t hesitate at the thought of having him in our lives. He’s brought a sunshine that was sorely needed in our hearts.

I’m extremely proud of both my sister and her husband. I can only pray to God that all of our soldiers return safely home.

Name: Lisa Hometown: Camp Pendelton ,CA

Letting go of my husband on January 28 was one of the hardest things I’ve had to do in my life. We’ve been married eight and a half years and this was the first time that I can remember something this big happening to us. It was different than the three deployments before. It had uncertainty, with no time frame when he would return home.

He was so busy the morning he left that he just gave us quick hugs and kisses through the car window. I drove home that morning not know when I would see my husband again. I was numb at first. Right after he left I didn’t know how to feel.

Then my girls started asking me some difficult questions. My oldest daughter, who is 7, asked me one day who the bad man in the desert is. I can only give her the information I get from the news, so I told her what I knew. Then, not soon after her dad left, she asked if Daddy would have to shoot at anyone, or kill anybody and if daddy would be shot at too. That right there is the roughest part because I just don’t know. I told her I hope not.

My 4 year old sleeps with me now and refuses to speak to her dad on the phone.

So many people are gone now. They are over in Kuwait, with their loved ones back here waiting by the telephone, praying for a call. I have been fortunate. My husband has e-mail access and calls me at least once a week, and I have been getting lots of letters. It’s hard though, watching the news, wondering if our leaders are doing the right thing by sending our troops in there knowing so many lives will be lost because of a hand-full of people they want to get rid of.

When my husband calls, he doesn’t complain too much. He’s sleeping on a cot in a tent and has been since he got there. He had to wait four days for his first shower and three hours or more to call me. Three hours to talk to me for 10 to 15 minutes because they cut you off after that. Too many other people need the phones too. I shouldn’t complain though, a lot of people don’t even have calls from their loved ones. I am one of the lucky ones.

When my girls ask me why Daddy is over there and when is he coming home, I tell them Daddy is a Marine. He has to go because it is his duty. His duty is to protect our freedom -our freedom to live without fear, our freedom to feel secure in our own country. I tell them Daddy will be home as soon as that freedom is safe again.

Name: Rob Hometown: Troy, Michigan

I sit here at my computer, relatively safe from harm in Michigan. I spent four years in the U.S. Marines Active Duty and four years Inactive Duty. I have a five-year-old son, just got married to my wife December 29. We have a baby on the way. My wife is six and a half month’s pregnant.

I cannot begin to tell you how conflicted I am by not being out there with my brothers. It is something that bothers me every day. I have nothing but respect and gratitude for each and every service man and woman that is defending my family’s freedom.

Because of you I have the privilege to be at home with my family.

I would like to personally thank your families also. I cannot begin to tell you how thankful I am to have you and your loved ones fighting for my freedom. I say a prayer for you and your families every night before bed. Thank you so very much.

Semper Fi

Name: Jessica Hometown: Denver

I am planning a wedding without knowing for sure when my fiancé will be back. He has been gone for almost 6 months. I miss him everyday.March 7, 2003 / 3:17 PM ETName: LoriHometown: Pueblo

I’m new to this. My husband has re-enlisted to serve his country and may be shipped out within a month. I’m scared to death! I cry myself to sleep because I don’t know if and when he’ll be shipped out and whether he will come home.

Name: Crystal Hometown: New York City

My husband is a National Guard reservist and although he would remind me every so often of the possibility of him being activated and deployed, it still came as a shock when he sat me down to tell me he had to leave. I understand about it being his job and his responsibility but I have to say I miss him terribly we’ve never been apart longer than his two-week obligation.

I also see the anti-war protests and have wondered if the voices of the people of this are being heard or considered when our loved ones are being placed in harm’s way. I understand the idea of freedom is important to us all but I struggle with sacrificing the person who I knew from the first time I saw him that I would love him forever.

Name: Mark Hometown: Montreal, QC, Canada

Hi Tamara,

I’m replying to let you know of one thing: believe in what your husband is doing. My father is a retired Canadian Army soldier and was called to Vietnam 10 days after I was born in 1967. Ironically, many Canadians don’t know that we also fought besides our American Allies in Vietnam.

Twenty years later, the call again came during Desert Storm. My father again did his duty. Now, with another war potentially breaking out, I believe that the call may come my way, as you see, I followed my father’s footsteps and I’m currently an officer in the Army Reserve.

Let your husband know that if he needs someone beside him in the trenches, I’m ready for that call.

I believe sometimes there are prices to pay and some of us are willing to pay that much more for freedom to prosper.

Name: Laura Hometown: San Antonio, Texas

Like many wives, I read these stories and can’t help but think to what lies ahead. My husband got his deployment orders this weekend, and that makes everything so uncertain for our family. When he does leave, our two children will be left with Daddy in their hearts. He deployed last year after Sept. 11, and on his return home we conceived a beautiful baby. Now our baby is two months old, just getting to know his daddy and he will be gone before he is gone again.

My seven-year-old will have to help our two-month-old remember Daddy. But with all these uncertainties, I stand as a proud wife because this is what my husband believes in and serving his country is what makes his heart proud. May God bless him and all other soldiers who face the unknown.

Name: Kelly Hometown: Old Lyme, CT

I’m envious of Tamara’s ability not to pass judgment on protesters. I can’t help but feel angry every time I see them. My husband is in the Army Reserves and has left me and my 10 month-old son in order to protect Americans, and it angers me to see the media focus so prominently on protesters and not on those of us who support what is being done.

After what happened on 9/11 I don’t think we can be too cautious, and allowing a madman to have weapons which could potentially harm the people of our country doesn’t seem to be a rational thing to do. So I don’t watch the news much anymore, and I don’t stop at the local coffee shop where I used to go after my son’s swimming lessons because protestors stand outside of it with their signs. I will be teaching my son to be proud of what his father is doing. I miss my husband terribly, but I am so proud of him and love him even more because of the sacrifices he is making for others, including those protesters.

Name: Lynette Hometown: Darien, IL

I’m an Army Reservist in Illinois awaiting deployment (alert status). I’ve been on alert status since late January of this year with my Reserve unit. I’m not married yet but engaged. My fiancé and I have been engaged since my 30th birthday, which was 7/21 of last year, 2002. We’re planning to get married this September if I’m still home but we might have to change the date if I get deployed.

My eyes welled up with tears while reading Tamara’s story and the replies of the other readers. It’s very hard when your loved ones are away fighting a war that’s a world away from home —something that will hit very close to home for my fiancé and I in the very near future.

I won’t be able to say good-bye to my fiancé in person whenever I do get deployed since I live out in Illinois and he lives in Southern California.

Prayers are what keep both my fiancé and I going. That means much even when I sometimes cry on him when we talk on the phone. I will definitely pray for all of the sailors, soldiers and airmen who are deployed out in the Persian Gulf and worldwide.

Name: Terry Hometown: Killeen, Texas

I am a retired solider with 20-plus years of active duty, My wife was one of you that had to stay behind and fear the worst and dream of our return, She did it proudly for 18 years and I love her for it.

I read the letters and comments of the families and pray for all that, there be a safe return and a speedy conclusion to this war in Iraq.

When you think of your loved one, whoever they are remember they are a part of a proud and select few that this country owes a deep debt to, and also to you, The ones that stay behind also are great part of it as well, without you we the soldiers would not go because there would be nothing to come back to.

My two sons are grown now but during Desert Storm they were 10 and 12 years old and in Germany, My wife did a great job making them who they are today. My oldest leaves on April 1 to begin his journey in the U.S. Army, The cycle continues.

My thoughts and prayers are with all that are deployed, but I say a special prayer for the ones that are left behind, God bless you all.

I do not agree when someone burns our flag as a matter of fact it makes me angry, but I would defend to the death their right to do it.

Name: Kathleen Hometown: Redondo Beach, California

I have two sons in the military, one in the Army, the other in the Air Force. I also have a son-in-law in the Naval Reserve. My son Logan has been in Kuwait since January 10 and my son-in-law since February 21. My son in the Air Force is in a holding pattern waiting for confirmation from Turkey.

My days start off with tears and prayer time with their younger brother and sisters. Yet at the same time I have an overwhelming sense of pride of the paths both my sons and son-in-law have taken. My eldest who is a Ranger assigned to a Sniper Unit has told me time and time again that “for such a time as this was he called.”

I’m proud of the values and integrity that all three possess. This mom will keep her sons, son-in-law as well as the rest of the armed servicemen and women in her heart and prayers. God Bless you and keep you!

Name: Stacy Hometown: Bedford, IN

I read these writings with tears. I too am a wife of a deployed soldier. I am very proud of my husband for fighting for our freedoms, not only for his family now, but for his future generation of family. It is so amazing to read these writings because I feel so alone and have the same fears and thoughts as these other spouses.

I am lucky to have co-workers who lift my spirits and help keep me busy. I am lucky to have two teenage boys who are being my rock. I am lucky to have a good friend who has stood by me. I am thankful I have a higher power to lean on for strength.

This site was blessing to read, so thanks to whoever had the foresight to start it. As one of the other ladies said, my story is one of many. I am proud of each and every one of our soldiers and remember them in my prayers each night.

Name: Michelle Hometown: Germantown

Our son left today for Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., and sometime around March 25 he will be headed for Savannah, Ga., for 21 days of training. We are not sure where he will be deployed from there. He received word February 18 that he would be receiving orders very soon. His wedding date was set for May 17, 2003 so we rearranged everything in 2 days time and they married on February 20. We buried his grandmother on February 26 and he left on his flight to Ft. Lauderdale at 6:20 a.m. this morning.

Our prayers are with our son, our country and all military personnel and their families. God Bless each and everyone.

Name: Pamela Hometown: Jacksonville, NC

My husband is a WO for the USMC. Out of the 6 years we have been together he’s been deployed/gone (work related) 3 years, 5 months, and 13 days. It is the most heart-wrenching feeling, knowing you missed your husbands call! I just want to say to Tamara that at the moment your husband dials your phone number he is filled with the butterfly in the stomach, love bursting out of his heart! He is with you. Place your hand over your heart, he’s with you! God Bless, stay strong, girl.

Name: Jessica Hometown: San Diego, California

My husband and I are both in the Army, we meet in Germany when we were stationed at the same place. Since we met, we have spent most of our days together and we even had the opportunity to deploy together to Kosovo, where we got engaged.

We decided to get married in November, even though he had orders to go to Ft. Stewart, GA and I had orders to come to Ft. Irwin, CA. We thought that since we were married, we would be together sooner. Boy were we wrong!

I came back from Germany in September of last year and he came back in November of the same year. Sixteen days into the month we got married and we only spent 9 days together — but not really because I had to work during those days. I wasn’t even given time to spend with my husband because training was the main concern of my chain of command. He left to Ft. Stewart, GA, and as soon as he got there he was told he was going to be deployed in a month or so and he had no time to deal with the paper work that would’ve helped us to be stationed at the same place.

Finally Christmas leave came by and I got to spend another 18 days with him before I had to come back to California. So since the day we got married until now I have only spent 27 days with my husband and I have no idea when I will see him again or if I’m going to be stationed at the same place as he is.

It has been the most difficult time of my life. I wasn’t able to be there for him when he was getting prepared to deploy, and I couldn’t even kiss him good bye, or see his smile one last time. Also, knowing that my husband is in Kuwait and that maybe, I might join him there if duty calls makes it a lot harder. So if anybody asks me about how it feels to be a newlywed, I have no idea since my husband and I have not even spent a month together since we got married.

Being a soldier myself, people think it is easier because I can understand where my husband is coming from and going through. But it is because I know how the military works that makes the wait more difficult. I just hope that everything is all right with all of my friends that have been deployed to the Middle East, and I pray that my husband comes back so we can finally spend some time together and start a family.

Name: Linda Hometown: Chicago

My oldest son, Patrick, is a Marine (reserve) in Kuwait. Although he has not lived at home since his college days, almost 10 years ago, knowing he is in harm’s way leaves me with a chill. He has a wife and 10 month-old son in Colorado waiting for his return. Through his e-mail letters sent to family and friends, I get a picture of his life in the camp and his thoughts about freedom’s high cost for all people.

I can’t explain how I feel both pride and fear whenever I think of him. With all the news about the probability of war, he’s on my mind daily.

I know a mom takes second place after a wife and child, and rightly so, but nevertheless he remains my son, and that always owns a special place in my heart. Come home safely, freedom defenders. God Bless you all.

Name: Charlie Hometown: Houston, TX

I am a reservist and have been in the military for 18 years. Tamara says it so well and it is refreshing to see that in 18 months she has come to understand what sets her husband apart.

Those of us who choose this life do it because we feel strongly about our freedom and are willing to do what it takes to make sure that it is never jeopardized.

The protests are disheartening but we realize that they have the right to protest because our forefathers stood toe to toe with those who would threaten our freedom and were victorious.

Tamara, stand strong. Your husband must be very proud of you. I know, I am very proud of the sacrifices my wife has made. An Army spouse is a true gem!

Name: Christine Hometown: Des Moines, IA

My two children and I will have to say goodbye to their Daddy in two weeks, this is actually a lot harder than I thought it would be. Right now were trying to get everything organized for him to leave. It is very stressful. On top of that, we’re trying to explain to my five-year-old that daddy has to leave and it’s probably going to be a long time before he can see him again.

I think the longest any of us has been apart for is two weeks and now he’s leaving for what will probably be a year. I told him that I will tell our 6-month-old as much as I can about her daddy, hopefully she will remember him when he gets back. It’s just sad that he’ll miss out on a lot, like her first step, her first word, and his son’s first day at school.

It will be hard but I’m lucky that I have a lot of family support.

Name: Sonya Hometown: Southern Tier, NY

When I was younger, my father was a Sergeant (retired after Desert Storm) in the Army. I was what you call an “Army brat,” and on top of that, my daddy’s little girl. More often than not I would wait by the window for his arrival, and when he’d have to leave, my heart would break each time. How I missed him, and didn’t understand.

Now, at 16, I understand why he did what he did, and I couldn’t be any prouder of the man I look up to, my father and my hero.

My heart goes out to all the families with their loved ones out fighting for our country, and hope that they’re just as proud of them as I am of my daddy. I pray for all the soldiers out there, and pray for safe returns. Words can not begin to describe my appreciation. Thank you.

Name: Tiffany Hometown: Corona, CA

I never got to say goodbye to my fiancé. We live in California and I was visiting my parents for a week. I was able to talk to my fiancé when I got back but he was in a lockdown in Los Alamitos Reserve Base.

That was January 23. The next time I heard from him was February 16 and he said he was in Colorado.

He gave me an address to write him. He said he would be going to Kuwait from there and that he was going to be gone for a year. That was the last I have heard from him.

The worst part of him leaving has to be that I didn’t get to see him before he left. The time that we have been together has gone by so fast that I hope this next year will go by fast as well. I am so proud of him and our other soldiers as well. They are all alone while we still have the comforts of home. I pray for my fiancé and everyone else deployed overseas.

My father will be among them soon as well. He has orders to go to South Korea and will be gone for a year also. This is a time where we all need to comfort each other, be strong and proud, and thank God that we live in such freedom and remember that war is not what our military stands for. It is our freedom.

Name: Adrienne Hometown: Dallas, Texas

I too know the pitfalls of being alone. My husband is in the Air Force and has been deployed for 18 months. We have been married for 8 years and have a 6 year-old daughter. He does not get to call home much but we do get a chance to talk via a Web cam that we installed before he left. His unit tells us that he will be deployed for another six months, but that is what they said six months ago. He was a reservist and got called up 10 days after Sept. 11.

We just moved to Texas so I have not made any friends or know of any other military wives to lean on for support. I pass my time by renting a lot of movies and sleeping a lot. The phone doesn’t ring much and nobody asks if I am OK. It is very lonely not living near a base. I get my information from the news and only believe about half of the information that I hear.

That is the only way I can survive this whole mess. I have to be positive and happy for my daughter and remember things like field trips, lunches, and homework. I barely remember when the trash goes out. I feel overwhelmed sometimes taking care of all of the household chores and obligations all by myself. Cut the grass, cook dinner, do the dishes, vacuum, go to work, take care of my daughter’s needs, etc. just makes you feel like running away from it all.

The one thing that doesn’t is knowing that my husband is over there fighting for a cause and our freedom is that cause.

I know that sometimes you don’t always hear words of encouragement from outsiders so I would like to take this moment to tell you just that. I am proud of all of you for making it this far and accomplishing the things you can get to in your daily activities. I have confidence that we will all be OK in the end.

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