I keep coming across a message in some version, on Facebook and Twitter, about sending Christmas cards to soldiers at Walter Reed Hospital.
Before you mail anything, please read this:
The short version is an Internet grassroots effort gone awry. I first got an email about doing this five or six years ago, at least. As I do with every email that has been forwarded and asks me to do something or delivers supposedly important information, I went straight to snopes.com, where I learned that due to security measures Walter Reed could not deliver cards addressed to unnamed soldiers to any patients recovering there.
What did change is that the American Red Cross, with the sponsorship of Pitney Bowes, got involved and set up a program that does get cards to hospitalized soldiers. Unfortunately the deadline for postmarking those cards was December 7.
There are Homefront groups all over the country showing support for the troops in a wide variety of ways throughout the year. You can read more about them here. According to Snopes.com, Walter Reed recommends making a donation to one of those groups.
It's heartening to me, as someone who was a little girl during the Vietnam War, to know that we can care about the troops, especially the wounded troops, even when we don't support the idea of the wars in which they have fought. In the commentary on President Obama's Nobel Peace Prize, Howard Fineman of Newsweek paraphrased one of my favorite writers, saying, "…it reminded me of a famous quote from F. Scott Fitzgerald, the writer,
who said the test of a first-class mind is the ability to hold two
completely opposite ideas in your head at the same time and still be
able to function." That quote is a little different everywhere I look for it online, but I think that idea that some things are not "either/or" but rather may be held as "both/and" shows some progress for us as a culture. That gives me hope, hope that maybe someday we won't have so many wounded heroes at Christmas, or any other time of year.