« Back to National Winners

Letters About Literature National Winners 2008

National Winner, Level 1: McKenzie Dent

Dear Alice Mead,

My Dad didn't leave me because he wanted to. Soldier Mom helped me to know that by Jas having similar experiences. I have realized that although the Army has taken my dad away for a year, it is his job to serve in the war and keep our country free. Jas knows and understands what it feels like to hate the fact that one of our parents are in the Army. We both wish that they had never joined.

Though Jas has her mom gone, and I have my dad gone, we both know what it feels like to have such an important role in your life not being filled. No one else in this world can understand the kind of pain that the soldier and his/her family are going through, unless they have had the same exact situation in their life. Others will say "Oh, I'm so sorry" and "Is there anything that we can do to help?" But, the truth is: they don't understand and there is no way or thing that they can do or use to replace my dad or Jas's mom.

It hurts me to watch the news and see all of the bad things that are happening where my dad is right now. And I know that it hurts Jas too. When I watch the Iraq TV Specials, I start to understand why Martin Luther King Jr. was so insistent on having peace in the world. War is horrible. It kills soldiers and worries their family and friends around them.

When I read your book I kept asking myself the same questions: Did you have a similar experience? You wrote in such a way that I wondered that because you described the feeling of Jas so vividly. I was able to completely relate to Soldier Mom.

Thank you for writing Soldier Mom. I started to understand Jas's feelings and emotions which helped me to understand those of my own that I have bottled up inside of me. I feel like I know Jas. Now, I just have to learn to know myself.

McKenzie Dent