Notes of “Thank You” for the U.S. Military
By Shannon Woodland
The 700 Club
CBN.com- Everlene reads: A little bird told me what a wonderful person you are. I know that because you serve our country with such loyalty. Thank you very much for all your sacrifice to keep America free.
For over a decade, Everlene Brewer has been writing cards and letters to U.S. military men and women overseas.
“I always say ‘thank you for serving our country, God bless you,’” explained Everlene, “’… for all your sacrifices you've committed for the freedom of America.’ Anything I can think of to uplift them and encourage them. And of course, I will tell them a little bit about what's going on around home, because it doesn't matter where they're from, they like to hear what's going on in the United States.”
She got her first taste of letter writing when she was seven and stricken with polio. It was 1945 and World War II was in its final months. Everlene started writing to her two uncles who were in Europe, serving in the U.S. Navy. Postage was 1 cent.
“And Momma would say, ‘write to my brothers because I'm so busy.’ So I loved writing to them. That’s when I fell in love with writing to sailors. I loved the sailors. I always wanted to marry a sailor but it turned out I married a soldier.”
That soldier was Richard Brewer. They had just met when he made her promise to write.
“He said to me when he left on Sunday afternoon, ‘Here's my address. Write to me.’ I said, ‘It's not etiquette right for a girl to write to a boy first.’ That was what the etiquette books used to read. I read a lot of them.”
“He said, ‘Well, if you want to hear from me, you'll write to me.’ So honey, I sent that letter that night and we wrote back and forth. And then, of course, the next weekend he came in he asked me to marry him.”
She wrote him faithfully while he was stationed at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, until they married. Over the years Richard often talked about how much those letters meant to him when he was in the Army.
“I'd always heard my husband say that mail call could make or break your day.”
Then, in 1998, Everlene read an article in the newspaper about Navy Lieutenant Mike Russo. He was deployed in the Persian Gulf aboard the USS George Washington. The article said he’d like mail.
“I said to my husband, ‘you know, I've always wanted to write to somebody I didn't know.’ ‘Well,’ he said, ‘write that one.’"
Mike remembers the day he got a letter from a complete stranger.
“I'm reading this letter and I'm like, ‘as bad as I think I've got it, here's a woman who hasn't been able to walk since she was seven, or at least not without the aid of crutches or braces and now she's in a wheelchair,’ said Mike. “And I’m thinking to myself, ‘what is she thanking me for? Let me write her back and thank her.’”
A year later, Everlene’s husband died and she moved to a nursing home in Norfolk, Virginia. It was then she decided to write letters and cards to U.S. military men and women stationed around the world.
Dear Heart, I want you to know how much I appreciate your many sacrifices to keep America free.
“I always say, ‘God bless you’ on the cards or ‘we're praying for you.’ Things like that,” explained Everlene. “And some will write back and say ‘thank you for praying for us.’"
Of all the people she’s written since then, there’s one who still holds a special place in her heart, Mike Russo. Their letter exchanges turned into a friendship that’s lasted over 17 years - a friendship that brought Mike closer to God.
“My relationship with Everlene, I got to understand a lot of the Biblical principles that she demonstrated herself,” said Mike. “And so she was a big part of my transformation, and my coming to Christ.”
Everlene said, “I honestly believe with all my heart that this is a God-given, an ordained appointment to meet Mike. I believe with all my heart. And so does he.”
Today she’s still at it. In fact in the last three years she’s sent over 15,000 letters and cards of encouragement to the men and women serving our country.
“My main objective is to let them know they're not forgotten. And that is why I work so hard to make as many as I can. It gives my heart satisfaction that I've done something rewarding and in the name of Jesus.”
Remember you are not forgotten. Many prayers in many places are sent up for you. Thanks again for serving our country.
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