In a digital world, keeping track of wartime memories and deployment correspondence is getting more and more difficult. I love saving personal information: be it a letter, note or photo, I’m very nostalgic and find comfort knowing it’s there, even though I may not look at it often.

My wartime experience begins after 9/11 with the initial invasion to Iraq. My spouse was on a ship just outside the middle east, waiting; we were very much aware that war was imminent.

Our communication began with email, but once he left the ship and entered Iraq, communication was non-existent. My thoughts were teamed with worry not only from casualty or fatality issues, but also from the fear of weapons of mass destruction. 

After my Marine had been in Iraq for several weeks, I finally received a call and was relieved to hear his voice once again. Calls were precious. Email and Skype were non-existent. I received postcards made from the back of MRE boxes. It was a difficult time in our digital age, where we are used to instant connections and not ready, or willing to wait.

Five months of war had passed and finally my husband was en route to the states. We were able to correspond once again which brought happiness to my heart. We have very few letters that have passed between us, but we have a large collection of digital letters. I would venture to guess that most families today are similar to ours.

Just last week, I logged into a very old email account where all of our e-communication was stored. This had not only the communication for our first deployment, but also the second when my Marine was in Fallujah. I discovered that my email server had randomly emptied out my old emails. I was devastated. Everything that once was, was no longer.

Luckily, I discovered a backup on a hard drive almost forgotten and was able locate them once again. I know I am blessed to have what we have today, and thankful that I was wise enough to make a backup.

I never had to experience years of war with little communication. Not only did the generations before us deal with this, but they also dealt with a rationing of supplies and lifestyle changes. They were connected with the war in an altogether different way. Life for us in the states kept moving forward.

For those generations before us, what have you done with your letters? Have you saved them? Do you want your children to read them?

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