In a time and era of such political divisiveness, it is always good to hear happy stories especially during the Memorial Day weekend. This is a time to pay reverence and our respect to those who have dutifully served our country and sacrificed their lives. One 98-year-old woman, Alleen Cooper from California paid her respects by sending out handwritten letters to troops overseas during the Memorial Day season. She has done this since World War II in the 1930’s and 1940’s.
Cooper started doing this and began to do this in the Vietnam War when her son was serving. Her son has struggled significantly with post traumatic stress disorder (ptsd). While he was abroad she sent him letters constantly. One of the reasons she said she sent the letters was because she wanted to comfort those who were in harm’s way as well as injured.
Cooper told WHNT,
“One in Florida, he had to have a new ear and I’m sure he was very, very depressed. I decided I’m going to write as long as I can. And I just respect everything that you do.”
Over six years ago she started to keep a tally of how many letters she sent out and it has come to approximately 7,000 thus far. Despite her old age she is embracing social media and technological advances by using video chat to talk with them. Each letter is a maximum of four pages long and a minimum of one. What is even more special about them is that she tracks them to ensure that no two letters are the same. Making sure that they are genuine.
Because of all her hard work some of the soldiers she has written to send her flags as well as well as military commendations from the bases they are stationed at in order to pay their thanks to her. The best part, she has no plans of stopping anytime soon.
Her son, Larry Cooper had nothing but kind things to say about her,
“She wrote everyday to my brother. A lot of soldiers don’t get any mail at all.”
SSGT Chris Canto served in Afghanistan and wrote to her. She sent him letters because he was in a remote location in Afghanistan and he had no access to internet or technology. Canto said the following about her,
“She would always send us clippings and jokes. She would tell us about her day.”
This takes major dedication. Especially considering she began during the Vietnam War, a time when there was large anti-military sentiments in the United States as well as abroad. Her love for her son and her country clearly usurped any political opinions either she or others potentially had. It is this type of patriotism that our country needs. Patriotism that develops in the form of loyalty, love, and dedication to service for others.
One can only hope she will inspire future generations to serve our soldiers in a somewhat marginally similar way as she has. There is no way to repay these fine men and women who have given everything they have and written a blank check for this country. Writing these letters is an amazing way to simply show our gratitude for their sacrifice.