Thursday, January 26, 2017

Letters in Music: "Soldier's Last Letter"

Ernest Tubb (1914-1984) is a well-known American singer and songwriter, one of the pioneers of country and honky tonk music. This song in particular speaks of a soldier's last letter. 

I find this topic of last letters really appealing and fascinating. Would you consider writing a last letter? What would you write in it? There was an interesting article in The New York Times last year written by Dr VJ Periyakoil, director of the Stanford Palliative Care Education & Training program and founder of the Stanford Letter Project

From his experience, Dr Periyakoil says the most common emotion expressed in these last letters is regret, that's why he came up with the Stanford Letter Project to encourage people to write a last letter to their loved ones - not only when someone is ill, but also when one is still healthy, before it's too late.

If you visit the website for the project, you will see a free template for a letter to help people complete seven life review tasks: acknowledging important people in our lives; remembering treasured moments; apologizing to those we may have hurt; forgiving those who have hurt us, and saying "thank you", "I love you" and "goodbye".
Image source: The New York Times

Once finished, you can choose to share the letter with your loved ones right away or store it in a safe place of with a trusted person to be given to your family in the future.

As the article concludes, "it may take tremendous courage to write a life review letter (...) it evokes deep and troubling emotions. Yet it may be the most important letter you will ever write".

"Soldier's Last Letter"

When the postman delivered a letter
It filled her dear heart full of joy
But she didn't know 'til she read the inside
It was the last one from her darling boy
Dear Mom, was the way that it started
I miss you so much, it went on
Mom, I didn't know, that I loved you so
But I'll prove it when this war is won
I'm writing this down in a trench, Mom
Don't scold if it isn't so neat
You know as you did, when I was a kid
And I'd come home with mud on my feet
The captain just gave us our orders
And Mom, we will carry them through
I'll finish this letter the first chance I get
But now I'll just say I love you
Then the mother's old hands began to tremble
And she fought against tears in her eyes
But they came unashamed for there was no name
And she knew that her darling had died
That night as she knelt by her bedside
She prayed, "Lord above, hear my plea
And protect all the sons that are fighting tonight
And dear God, keep America free"

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