Thursday, March 10, 2011


One of the most difficult, if not "thee" most difficult letters to have to write would be a final letter to family and loved ones.  It just has to.  In today's military, soldiers are encouraged to write one and place it among their belongings.  One source told me as few as twenty five percent of the soldiers do this.  And that's after instruction being given on its importance.  How hard must it be when you have to reflect on loved ones, detail failed dreams, provide encouragement in life and then offer a point of purpose that you feel your life and dying meant?

Since 2003, over 4,400 U.S. soldiers have died in Iraq and nearly 1,500 in Afghanistan.  Almost 6,000 total.   If you think about it with the percentages I mentioned above,  then only those who died in Afghanistan left a final letter.  Those numbers underscore the 4,400 families who in addition to the loss they suffered, were not able to have a "last" connection with their loved one.

Cpl. Jason Bogar with a "found" purpose
What would such a letter look like?  Here's one I found, which I think you might find illuminating.  The following was discovered on the computer of Army Corporal Jason Bogar of Seattle, Washington after his death on a second tour of duty in Afghanistan in 2008.  His family shared this with CBS News shortly thereafter.


"I feel my days are numbered so I want to say all this while I still can. I pray to God no one will ever have to read this but as death is all around me if it falls upon me you will understand my recent feelings on this madness we call life.

My views and outlook on life seems to be drastically changing recently. As many of you saw before I left when I quit drinking, I was just starting to live my life.  Never have I felt as strong as I do about what I am doing here in Afghanistan as the right thing to be doing and is understood and accepted by God. As a result of that death is easier to accept.

Coming back over here again seemed more appealing than being in America surrounded by Americans that are more concerned about their next new car, new house, celebrity, ect.  than the threat to the way of life of the west that is so prevalent in the places I‘ve grown to accept as daily life.  I hope one day there will be more Americans knowledgeable on the situation with terrorism in Afghanistan and how important it is that it’s destroyed.

Being back here in Afghanistan is exactly were I was supposed to be and where I wanted to be. I feel I’m doing more good over here than I was as an electrician. I knew exactly what I was doing when I re-enlisted in the Infantry.   I’m just sorry that you all have to suffer for it now.

For me to prepare myself to take life without hesitation has been a very difficult thing to do. To take away another man or woman’s son, husband or  brother has always bothered me.  But through my eyes is understood by my God and I am forgiven.  For the man that took my life more than likely for all he has known his whole life he feels the exact same way I do when he killed me. That is what scares me and I don’t think is understood by disappointingly a huge percentage of Americans. 

I’ve always used the analogy if your were told the color blue is green your whole life and someone tells you it’s actually blue they can give you all the facts in the world to prove it’s blue but at the end of the day it’s still green to you.  The enemy were faced with is most of the time beyond words and it comes down to a sad but inevitable conclusion.  We have to have young men that are willing to die to act on them and kill them before they can carry out any plans they have to kill innocent people because that is what they believe Allah wants, from distorted teachings of the Koran.

Know that you all are the reason I am here and to give my life for that is nothing to me. My love for every-one of you is what drives me and brings me comfort under stressful situations.

Carise let your child know of me and that even though I was never able to see he/she grow I love them more than they could imagine."


Cpl. Bogar was killed in a firefight at Wanat, Afghanistan on July 13, 2008.  He was 25.  Six weeks after Jason was killed, his sister Carise gave birth to a son, Isaac Jason.

As I mentioned in the lead paragraph of this blog post, writing a letter of this nature would have to be difficult.  I can imagine the day Cpl. Bogar sat in front of his computer and wrote down his thoughts.  When he finished who knows how he really felt.  Did he think was it helpful, did it give some significance to his situation?  Again, we'll probably never know.  What we do know, is that the solace his family and friends can take in his "final" words, are ones that can last them throughout their lifetimes.  And if that isn't an exclamation point, then what is.....

Tim McGraw has a song regarding the "letter" with a song titled, "If Your Reading This.....  Click and listen.




  1. Goodness, John. Thank you--gives me a whole new perspective for my day. God bless.

  2. Jen, appreciate the thoughts. Yup, puts a whole different perspective on things, for sure.