THE LAST LETTER
The soldier wrestles to write words he knows will be his last.
He searches his heart, trying to find what he wants to say. After so many letters, this one needs to count.
This one needs to last.
There is no one definitive sentence or theme he needs to write. Yet he wants his family to know that he will always be there, that he will always love them.
Just because he is gone doesn’t mean he has left them.
There is so much he wants to say. Things to share. About the places he’s seen, the journey he’s been on, the road he’s headed toward. The pride in his heart for serving his country.
He knows the world is full of bad places filled with bad men. He remembers his father telling him that. He remembers that was one of the reasons he decided to join the army.
Yet even in a world like this, there is hope. Hope is not confined to Tennessee or the United States of America. Hope can be found in the darkest of spots, in the prisons of people’s souls.
He thinks of her face and smiles.
He loves her and wants the best for her. He can only imagine how many times she’s prayed for his safety, a safety that won’t hold.
Maybe God one day will tell her the reasons why.
Maybe God will fill her with renewed hope once he’s gone.
He starts writing.
In a world full of endless rhetoric, he tries to convey a simple and eloquent truth.
I’m not writing to say good-bye. I’m writing to make a promise.
So he does.
© 2011 Mark Schultz
Letters from War
When Beth Thompson’s only son, James, goes missing in action in Afghanistan, she is left with her prayers, hopes, fears . . . and letters.
Mother and son have been writing since boot camp. James writes of his struggle to become a confident soldier and of his concern for his young wife and their unborn child. Beth, like any mom, praises her son’s courage even as she frets for his safety.
Even after James disappears, Beth is comforted by a daily ritual of writing him about her feelings, faith, and attempts to maintain a normal life when nothing is really normal but the waiting.
Based on platinum-selling singer Mark Schultz’s hit song “Letters from War,” this powerfully emotional and timely story reveals how faith sustains in even the darkest of circumstances.
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Reading Group Guide
How did you come to write the song “Letters from War”? When did you first have the idea of using the song as the basis for a novel?
My great-grandma had three sons involved in World War II. My great-uncles have always been heroes to me. Several years ago as we were cleaning out her attic, we found the letters they had written her as well as her diary from the 1940s. Several of the entries brought me to tears, and I knew that I wanted to write a song that would honor both my great-grandmother and her sons.
What was your involvement in the U.S. Army’s Be Safe—Make It Home campaign? Why was it important for you to be a part of the campaign?
The army approached me with the idea of making a video for “Letters from War” so that they could show it in conjunction with their Be Safe—Make It Home campaign for the soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan. It was an amazing experience, and it has also allowed us to perform at the Pentagon as well as at several army bases around the country. Those concerts have been some of the most memorable of my career.
What can you tell us about collaborating with Travis Thrasher to write Letters from War? What are some of the differences between writing a novel and writing a song?
Well, I think we both learned a lot about the creative process and collaboration. Both Travis and I primarily do our craft without see more