Letters Home - Commemorating Veteran's Day Part 1

Walton Arts Center is having a special presentation to honor our nation’s troops this Veteran’s Day; Sunday, November 11. Letters Home takes the experiences of soldiers beyond the politics of war, and takes viewers into the lives of the men and women serving our country. The production is based on an HBO documentary and an Op-Ed article in The New York Times called “The Things They Wrote.”

We partnered with KNWA, asking area residents to share their stories and memories as it relates to war, and the service. Below are some of the pieces that members of our community shared.

Christian Blackburn & Lynda Shadrake in Letters Home“I met my husband after he was out of the Army almost a year. That was in 1990, and right before Desert Storm. After just a few months, he was called back. Fortunately it was over very quick and he didn't go overseas. He did however have all the vaccinations. Within months he started having pain and swelling in his ankles. As time went on it would come and go and progressed to his knees, hips and back. They tested gimmick several times and could not determine what it was.

After about 14 years of this they did diagnose it as rheumatoid arthritis. After research we found it was likely caused by the anthrax vaccine. We have filed and been denied VA disability 4 times because they will only pay for diagnosed issues. Even after all of that he would go back today and serve again if they would let him. He is an amazing man, husband and father to our 3 kids!”

-- Submitted by Dana A. Splichal

“My husband, Capt Sean Kreps is active duty Air Force. He decided to join after when had been married about 9 months. We just celebrated our 20 year anniversary this past June.

Over the years he has been all over the world and we have lived in many different places. I remember him being in basic training back in 1993 and we lived off letters. I would write him 2 or 3 times a day! Letters are the best gifts for our military! They lift their spirits and let them know they are loved and appreciated As we've spent more time apart thru the years and with 3 kids I thank God for technology!

When Sean had to live in Turkey for a year or was deployed to IRAQ we were able to use the computers to keep in touch. Email and Skype kept my husband close to me and up to date on everything with our three kids. He is now stationed in Fayetteville at the University of Arkansas with the Air Force ROTC.

My husband and family have sacrificed a lot over the last 20 years but the Air Force has given us so much along the way. I am so proud of my husband for serving his country.”

-- Submitted by Rachel Kreps

“My daddy was in WWII. My mother was in high school participating in a "drawing" for names to be pen pals with soldiers. She drew someone else's name but traded for Vernie Bartlett's name. For three years they wrote each other, having never met. When he returned to the USA, he immediately went to see his "pen pal". Five dates later, they were engaged. They were happily married 52 years before he passed away. It all started due to "letters home".”

--Submitted by Rosemary Butler

Check back in later this week to read the grand prize entry, and don’t forget to grab your tickets to Letters Home!

LaNisa Frederick in Letters Home