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A Letter to My Young Child When I Leave for Boot Camp

To My Little Recruit: When you were born, I didn’t have any idea where I’d …

PARRIS ISLAND (S.C.) “It was hard in the beginning when I found out my son was born. I got the phone call from my Senior Drill Instructor about my son. Knowing that I wasn’t there… it scared me.” said Pvt. Hunter Willmon, a recent Marine graduate. “It motivated me to know my son was ok, I knew I needed to be a better person and endure throughout training for my family.”

To My Little Recruit:

When you were born, I didn’t have any idea where I’d be in five years, or ten years, or twenty years. I only knew two things:

  1. That holding you was the best thing I’d ever known in my life
  2. That one day when you were older, I wanted you to look at me and be proud of me.  

This is one of the reasons I’m leaving today. I don’t want to leave you, but you already know that, because I’ve told you that a hundred times. I’m leaving because I want to be the person I promised you I would be, that day you were born. 

You may have heard stories about boot camp – you might be worried that it’s scary, or dangerous, or long. But don’t worry about me. I’ll be just fine. 

When you were a baby, your hands and feet were so tiny, I could hold them in the palm of my hand. I could hold all of you in one arm. I knew then that I would do anything to protect you. I knew that the bigger you got, the harder it would be. One day you would learn to run, and I would chase after you. One day you would walk to your friend’s house next door, and I would watch you through the window. And then one day you would get on a bus and go to school, and I would have to let you go, because I can’t follow you everywhere for the rest of your life (even though I want to).

But don’t you ever forget this: I will always, always protect you.   

That’s why I have to go today. Protecting you doesn’t always mean standing guard at the window while you play in the yard. Sometimes protecting you means having to leave, because many of the dangerous things are not close enough for you to see. Many of the dangerous things are far away. And that’s why I made the decision to join the military, so that one day, I could look back and say I did everything in my power to keep my promise to protect you and to make this country a safer place for you to live in.  

For the next few months while I’m in boot camp, we won’t be able to talk very much. But you can write me letters – LOTS of letters. As many letters as you want. Please send me photos and drawings and notes, and tell me what’s going on at home. I want to know it all. I want to know what books you’re reading, and what you learned in school, and who you played with at recess, and what you want for your birthday. 

I’ll write back as much as I can, but even if I can’t write you as many letters as you write me, know that I will be thinking of you all the time, and your letters will be the highlight of my day. 

You told me the other day that you wondered if I would be lonely, going to a new place where I don’t know anyone, but don’t worry about that. First of all, I’ll make plenty of new friends, and I’ll be so busy I won’t have time to be lonely. And second of all, you’re my best friend, so how can be I be lonely when I have you, even if you’re far away?

This is the start of a new adventure for our family. When I come home again, we’ll be traveling to exciting new places and doing exciting new things. We’ll meet so many new people. Through it all, we’ll be a family. I hope one day, when you’re all grown up, we’ll have so many memories we made together. 

Stay strong, but know that it’s okay to be sad once in a while. Clean up your toys, but also have lots of fun making a mess. Take care of everyone at home, but don’t forget to be a little kid too. 

Say a prayer for me at night. You be brave for me, and I’ll be brave for you.

I love you. 

The editorial team at Sandboxx.