Note to readers: The following is a short story depicting a fictitious, wounded U.S. soldier. As combat rages around him, he is writing a letter to his wife and family. The scene begins as follows:

As the ground quaked with the distant, thunderous sounds of artillery firing, bullets continued to make their familiar sound as they cut through the air. Nearby, voices of the wounded cried out in anguish and orders were being shouted. All this echoed into the late day.

A man lay alone behind some logs for protection. He felt a sharp pain and noticed that he was losing a large amount of life’s most precious fluid. Quickly, he tried to suppress the wound, but to no avail. Slowly, he reached for a crumpled piece of dirty paper, a broken pencil and started to write:

Dear Sally and children:

I just wanted to take a few moments to tell all of you that I love you so much — I think and pray for all of you always.

The sounds of gunfire are getting louder, the moans of the wounded are drowned out by all the chaos. The soldier noticed that he was getting weaker. His handwriting was shaking, and eyes began to be very hard to keep open. He continued:

I wish with all my heart that I could see and be with you just one more time. My only regret is that I cannot. Kids, be kind, love and respect one another and your mother. Sally, thanks for making me a better man. I will love you forever and a day.

Love, Don/Dad

Slowly, as his strength and alertness was ebbing, he folded the yellowed paper, placed it in a torn envelope, and placed it inside of his jacket. Before he began to drift into unconsciousness, he heard voices nearby but could not distinguish who they were: friend or foe. And then, the pencil slowly fell from his hand.

Nearby, a soldier screamed, “He is here; we found him. Bring the medic.” He bent down near the man, grabbed his wrist frantically, and began searching for a pulse. He found it, but it was faltering, almost imperceptible.

(Please take the time on Veterans Day, Nov. 11, to show our veterans your gratitude for all of their sacrifices that have ensured our way of life. Keep them in your prayers and God Bless them all.)

Dan Paul is a retired school administrator. His columns will explore family relationships. They will be published at the beginning of each month. Those who have any questions, comments, reflections, or personal stories related to the subject of this article, may contact Paul at meaningfuldifferences.net.