America Supports You: Mother-Daughter Team Writes Book Honoring Troops
By Ashleigh Covington
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, July 28, 2006 A mother-daughter trio has compiled a book of children’s letters to troops in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Barbara Baldwin and her two daughters, Amber D’Amico and Heather Duff, decided a year ago to highlight children’s appreciation for men and women in uniform.
The book, “Dear Soldier,” was released Memorial Day weekend. Baldwin said she and her daughters were inspired to create the book after reading children's letters for care packages sent to troops as part of a church project.
"Because the children's letters were so compelling, we would read them aloud as the packages were being assembled,” Baldwin said. “Their innocent wisdom and humor never failed to brighten and enrich our days.”
The three women said they believe children’s letters include honest and compelling expressions of appreciation to those serving America.
“Children have no agenda; they have no preconceived ideas. They say what they think and what they feel; it’s great,” Baldwin said. “They’re not afraid to say, ‘I love you.’ They’re not afraid to say, ‘I’m praying for you.’ They just say what’s on their minds.”
The book includes letters from children ages 6 to 10 from all over the country and features pictures and messages included throughout its pages.
Letters in the book include comments straight from children -- including creative spelling -- such as:
"Dear Soider (sic), I wish I could be over there with you, because I want to be a solider (sic) when I grow up. I have a cousin named John over there with you, if you see him tell him hi."
"You are braver than I'll ever be … May all your dreams come true. I am proud of all the improvements you have made over there. I hope you never give up on your plans … God bless you."
“I just can’t believe there are 150,000 people fighting for our freedom how powerful is that?”
A portion of the proceeds from each book goes to the “Coalition to Salute America's Heroes,” a nonprofit group that supports injured servicemembers and their families.
Family ties motivated the women to do something to support military members. Baldwin’s son recently returned from Afghanistan, and she said the family understands the importance of support systems.
“This is something that we are just passionate about as a family,” D’Amico said. “We come from a family of veterans and soldiers, and so we have had the privilege to see firsthand the sacrifice it takes to maintain the freedom we enjoy.”
Since its release, the book has sold more than 25,000 copies.
Baldwin said servicemembers have told her they appreciate the book. “Soldiers loved the letters. In fact, one soldier said he would read the letters at night. When he couldn’t sleep, he would pull those out,” Baldwin said. “Another solider from Baghdad said there’s something almost spiritual about reading a letter from a child and hoped we’d be able to get books to every embassy all over the world.
“That affirmation we’ve gotten all along the way, not just from active-duty soldiers but veterans from all wars, is really what has kept us going through this process,” Baldwin said.
The ladies said they want everyone to understand the importance of supporting the troops and how much such support impacts men and women in uniform.
“We want to make sure that we never have a situation like when the Vietnam War was going on,” D’Amico said. “In fact, one Vietnam veteran who read the book with tears in his eyes said: ‘These are the letters that we never got.’ It’s just really important no matter what people think about the politics of it all that we stay very united and stand behind the men and women on the front lines that are risking their lives.”