Receiving letters from a soldier on active duty are always special to family and friends, but for one class at Staunton Elementary it was a great surprise.
As a class project, students from Susan Goodman's third-grade class wrote letters to a soldier stationed in Iraq, Marine Lance Cpl. Daniel Smith. The soldier is a cousin to third-grader Corbin Fretz, a student in Goodman's class.
In March, the soldier received 23 letters full of questions and sincere wishes for his safety. Each letter was signed with "your new friend" and the student's name. Enclosed in the bundle of letters was also a class picture from the children.
The students received a speedy reply from the soldier in April.
"It was so wonderful that he took the time to do this," Goodman said, surprised at the consideration by the soldier towards the class. "He just didn't write a thank you letter to the class. Everyone, including me, got a personal message back from Lance Cpl. Smith."
Taking special care to personalize every letter with the answers to their questions,Smith sent each student a handwritten letter from Smith on United States Marine Corps stationery, inside a personally addressed envelope with the combat zone postage stamp. The letters arrived at the school in April.
"I enjoyed writing back to the students," Lance Cpl. Smith wrote in the letter to Goodman, reflecting back to his childhood memories of how fun it was to open presents and letters. "I look forward to reading the next set of letters."
Although the letters were intended for Lance Cpl. Smith, he shared them.
"He shared the class letters with fellow Marines, who, he said, enjoyed them very much," Goodman said. "His sergeant even suggested that they send a copy of a movie made by the platoon about what they do for the students to see."
"The students are excited about keeping in touch with their new friend," Goodman said. "Many students have already begun writing their next letter."