Wednesday, February 18, 2009


I found this interesting tidbit in an otherwise conventional Time article on the troop increases in Afghanistan:

Obama began his terse statement Tuesday by acknowledging that "there is no more solemn duty as President than the decision to deploy our armed forces into harm's way." He has been personally writing letters to the families of each U.S. soldier killed in Afghanistan and Iraq, hand signing them "Barack." Such letters no doubt will become more difficult to write in the months ahead, when the casualties begin to include some of those he ordered into combat.

I thought that was interesting so I looked it up, and found more detail at the Washington Times:

In his first few weeks in office, sometime between celebratory bill signings and phone calls from foreign leaders, President Obama sat in the Oval Office for the most somber task of his presidency - penning letters to families of troops killed in combat.

"This was real, it was personal, it was so important to us," said Thya Merz, whose son Marine Lance Cpl. Julian Brennan was killed Jan. 24 in Afghanistan.

The letter was signed "Barack," Ms. Merz told The Washington Times.

"Not 'president,' just his first name, and it just felt like, OK, my son has been acknowledged," she said.

Mr. Obama personalizes each letter, asking staffers to gather details about the service member, such as their hometown and where they were stationed, a White House aide said. The letters are sent to parents and spouses, and sometimes children of the fallen troops.

The president writes the notes by hand, then the letters are typed before he adds his signature.

According to the Washington Times, Bush did something similar (though there isn't as much detail in that article.) I applaud this. Every President should know something about each soldier who dies in war, so that he can understand the grave toll that war inflicts. But given how the situation is unfolding in Afghanistan, it's safe to say that many more letters will be written before Obama's time in office comes to an end.

No comments: