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Matthew Sartin with his father Gary, who is in his second tour of duty in Iraq.
Courtesy photo
Matthew Sartin with his father Gary, who is in his second tour of duty in Iraq.

Letters to veterans personal mission for local student

By Ronnie Thomas
rthomas@decaturdaily.com · 340-2438

When his eighth-grade English teacher at Hartselle Junior High School told the class to write a letter thanking veterans, the words came easily and heartfelt for Matthew Sartin.

“I personally know how the family feels when a veteran is sent off to war because my father is in Iraq,” Matthew wrote. “I know you have to be brave to make a large sacrifice like that.”

His dad, Sgt. 1st Class Gary D. Sartin, is on his second tour of Iraq. He is a turret gunner on a Humvee, serving in Baghdad with the Army 1st Cavalry Division.

Given at ceremony

Matthew said his teacher, Sheila Reeves, gathered the letters in preparation for the school’s annual Veterans Day ceremony Thursday.

“They put them in the chairs in the cafeteria, where the veterans would sit while waiting for the program to start,” said Matthew, 13. “It gave them something to read, about how we felt about them.”

Judging from what Matthew wrote, there’s little doubt the veterans got inspiration from letters composed by a group so young.

“So you should deserve a lot of attention,” Matthew’s letter continued, “but you only have one day devoted to yourself. But you are a hero and so at least you can receive some attention for that.”

Matthew said as he composed the letter, he thought about all veterans but his dad’s being in the military gave him extra incentive.

He recalled reading a story about his father that appeared in The Daily in May, when Sartin was last home on a two-week leave.

“I was proud of him when I saw his picture and read the story, but I’ve always been proud of my dad,” Matthew said.

And he can’t wait for the next homecoming.

“When he writes, he’ll usually count down how many more days he has left,” Matthew said. “He’ll be home right before Christmas.”

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