Marine’s message from Afghanistan

Published 11:36 pm Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Modern-day is filled with thousands of human interest stories that can evoke hundreds of emotions (unfortunately along with, seemingly, millions of stupid, inane “selfie” stories).

One video I recently discovered featured English folk singer, Richard Digance, performing his song, “Letter from Afghanistan” at the Fairport Cropredy Convention Festival in Oxfordshire in August, 2011.

The song is written from a Royal Marine’s viewpoint, contrasting the life back home with life on the battlefield, ending with the rapt attention paid to local football (soccer) players contrasted with the almost miniscule notice given to flag-draped caskets of fallen heroes returning home.

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The emotion Digance’s song evokes reminded me of another well-known ballad that was first sung during WWII in the 1940’s. Titled, “Soldier’s Last Letter,” the words were written by U.S. Army Sergeant Henry Stewart and set to music by Ernest Tubb, who was the first singer to record it.

Merle Haggard did a special rendition of it years later. Between their two recordings, folks throughout the Dark Corner and other country music-loving places sang it hundreds of times.

“Soldier’s Last Letter”

When the postman delivered a letter

It filled her dear heart full of joy;

But she didn’t know till she read the inside

It was the last one from her darling boy.


”Dear Mom,” was the way that it started,

“I miss you so much,” it went on;

“Mom, I didn’t know, that I loved you so

But I’ll prove it when this war is won.

“I’m writing this down in a trench, Mom,

Don’t scold if it isn’t so neat;

You know as you did, when I was a kid

And I’d come home with mud on my feet.

“The captain just gave us our orders

And Mom, we will carry them through.

I’ll finish this letter the first chance I get

But now, I’ll just say, I love you.”

Then the mother’s old hands began to tremble

And she fought against tears in her eyes

But they came unashamed, for there was no name,

And she knew that her darling had died.

That night as she knelt by her bedside

She prayed, “Lord above, hear my plea

And protect all the sons that are fighting tonight,

And dear God, keep America free.”