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Ruthie couldn’t quite remember what had decided her so many months ago.  In her book this meant it had been a number of small things no great catastrophe which forced her hand.  Perhaps it had been the story on the nightly news last October about the soldiers who had taken in stray dogs to keep them company only to have the military officials deem them a possible threat.  She remembered feeling not only sad for those who were out there in harms way without anything that might give them comfort as she sat on her couch, eating takeout, and sipping wine, but also guilty.  Maybe it was the commercials, that stared up as the days grew shorter and everyone prepared for the holiday season, filled with soldiers wishing they were home with family.  Which only made Ruthie think about the ones who didn’t get to make a commercial for their families or who didn’t have families to make commercials for.

Whatever it was that finally sent her to the recruiting office she was grateful, because that was the first time that Ruthie was introduced to Staff Sargent Evan Ryker.  He was just a name from a list, at first.  Ryker was one of many who were currently over seas serving their country with no listed family members.  As Ruthie shyly pointed to his name on the list the woman behind the counter smiled and handed her the Letters-to-Soldiers packet along with SSG Ryker’s small file, containing only a biosketch, a picture, and an address.

Thus began Ruthie’s letter writing campaign.  At first nothing more than a thank you card she signed and sent, but before long a weekly tradition of correspondence.  She now had many pictures of Evan and his friends, and knew him so well it was as if they had grown up together.  SSG Ryker had lost his parents in a car crash years before he joined up and lived with his grandma till she passed.  He had no real contact with his father’s only living brother and family leaving him, for all intents and purposes, alone.  Her heart had gone out to him immediately, and soon she too was sending pictures and small gifts.  If any of her family ever voiced concern over her having a better relationship with a man she had never met than someone from town, “Go find yourself a flesh and blood boy Ruthie dear, that paper boy can’t give you nothing,” she would simply tell them to keep it to themselves.

Ruthie was happy, happy that she had made a friend and happy that Evan wouldn’t have to feel alone ever again.

When the question finally came in one of his letters she was ready.  She had written her response weeks ago knowing the why would eventually become important.  She had wrote simply:

Knowing that there are people who go out and fight for the rest of us so we can live the lives we have become accustom too, is a responsibility.  You have taken on the fighting, so it is up to me to prove to you that you that there are people who remember you and are thankful for all you do.  I can only hope that one day I might be worthy of what you will have sacrificed.

The day she received Evan’s final letter she cried soft tears, it was time to finally meet him.

As Ruthie stood on the tarmac waiting, clutching the letter he had signed I will never forget, she couldn’t quite remember why it had started, but as he was carried towards her she knew why it couldn’t stop.

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