February 5, 2004 at 9:01 PM EST - Updated June 26 at 2:56 AM
One Sunday in 1970, I was reading the local Newspaper and noticed a picture of a handsome young man with an Army recruiter with a caption that read Carrying on Tradition. The paragraph went on to state how this man followed the footsteps of his brothers and joined the Army. I thought it would be nice to write and ask if he wanted a pen pal. He wrote back and we continued to write to each other. He informed me that besides his Mother I was the only one that continued to write to him. It was over a year before we actually met since we began to write. I received a call and he asked me on a date while he was on leave from the Army. We dated every night that week and every time he came home on leave after that. Valentine's Day (1973) was approaching and I decided to send him a care package which contained a heart shaped pillowthat I made for him (with an embroidered cupid on one side and his name on the other), cookies and candy. To my surprise on that Valentine's Day I received a "Dear Joan" letter from him. He stated he was getting out of the Army later that year and thought our relationship was too serious. He wanted to make sure he was not missing anything. After three years our pen pal days had ended with that letter. I went on with my life and graduated from high school. In August 1973, he had called me to ask if he could see me again. I agreed and as time passed we became engaged in 1974. We married in 1975 and my husband rejoined the Army and has since retired after 20+ years of service. On Valentine's Day I have bitter sweet memories of the letter I received in 1975, but I am happy to report that every Valentine's Day for the past 20 some years since then have been sweet and we have been happily married since 1975. Sometime over the years my "Dear Joan" letter conveniently disappeared but we still have the pillow!