Student sends encouragement to soldiers’ families

Kelly Petryszyn

Notes aim to comfort those who lost loved ones during Iraq war

Angie Conant, senior speech pathology and audiology major, holds a framed letter from the mother of a fallen soldier. In the letter, Conant included the Bible verse Joshua 1:9, which was the soldier’s confirmation verse, unknown to her. Conant has been wr

Credit: DKS Editors

Angie Conant, senior speech pathology and audiology major, wrote a letter to the family of a fallen soldier during the summer of 2007, thanking them for their son’s service.

In it, she included the Bible verse Joshua 1:9, “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”

Then she got a reply from the soldier’s mother.

The letter read, “Dear Angie, I wanted to let you know how much your letter meant to me. You couldn’t have known this, but Joshua 1:9 was his (the soldier’s) confirmation verse. He had a dog tag with that verse inscribed on it. When I read it, it was like a message from God telling me that Devon was fine. Thanks for caring.”

For Conant, getting the response signified she was doing the right thing by writing letters to families of fallen soldiers.

“I read the letter over a couple of times,” she said. “It brought tears to my eyes.”

She said she writes the letters because it is important to comfort the families of fallen soldiers.

“I’m offering encouragement with all of the letters,” she said, adding the letters are a reminder that “people do care.”

Conant said she “felt compelled to do this” beginning in 2007 when the pastor at her church, City Bible Church, in Massillon encouraged the churchgoers to write letters to families of soldiers who died in the Afghanistan and Iraq wars.

He gave churchgoers a list of fallen soldiers and contact information for the families. The list includes Gold Star families, a group of families who have lost a loved one as a result of the war and aim to bring troops home from the war.

When Conant is writing the letters, she said she makes sure no two letters are the same. She introduces herself, thanks the families for the service of their loved one and includes a motivational quote or Bible verse.

She handwrites the letters to fallen soldiers’ families in the Northeast Ohio area, within the month that their loved one passed away, she said.

Sometimes she gets responses but said a response isn’t necessary for her to feel she is doing something good.

“It’s bittersweet,” she said. “It’s nice to get a letter back but also very depressing to hear their stories . It hits home even more.”

Conant said writing a letter to a family of a father and son who had died within two weeks of each other was particularly difficult.

Even so, Conant said we “still need to support the troops,” despite a person’s opinion of the war.

She has written 50-60 letters so far and plans to write more when she goes home to get more names from her church.

Conant said the letters offer hope to families mourning the loss of a loved one.

“It is important to provide them with hope,” she said. “When people you don’t even know are reaching out and saying ‘thank you,’ I think that would mean a lot.”

Contact news correspondent Kelly Petryszyn at [email protected].