13 Fun and Interesting Facts About July 4th

Here are some fun and interesting facts about the 4th of July holiday that you might want to share with your family and your loved ones who are at basic training or boot camp today.

As we celebrate with backyard cookouts and fireworks, it is appropriate to reflect on our Founding Fathers and their heroism and to be thankful for our loved ones who are currently serving in our military or who are at basic training or boot camp.

1. Why do we celebrate July 4th as a holiday? On this day in 1776, the Continental Congress approved the Declaration of Independence, setting up the original 13 colonies.

2. What is 2.5 million? The estimated number of people living in the newly independent nation in July 1776.

3. What is 318.6 million? The current estimated number of people living in the USA.

4. What is 56? The number of signers to the Declaration of Independence.

5. Who was the first signer of the Declaration of Independence? John Hancock, President of the Second Continental Congress, was the first signer. This merchant by trade did so in an entirely blank space making it the largest and most famous signature — hence the term John Hancock, which is still used today as a synonym for signature.

6. Who were the oldest and youngest signers? Benjamin Franklin (age 70), who represented Pennsylvania, was the oldest of the signers. Edward Rutledge (age 26), of South Carolina, was the youngest.

7. Two future presidents signed the Declaration of Independence, John Adams (second President) and Thomas Jefferson (third President). Both died on the 50th anniversary of signing the Declaration (July 4, 1826) within hours of each other. President James Monroe also died on July 4, 1831.

8. One of the United States’ patriotic songs, “Yankee Doodle” was originally sung by British military officers prior to the Revolution as a means to mock the disorganized American colonists who fought alongside them during the French and Indian Wars.

9. Americans consume about 155 million hot dogs on Independence Day alone; it is the biggest hot dog holiday of the year.

10. The oldest, continuous Independence Day celebration in the United States is the 4th of July Parade in Bristol, Rhode Island; it began in 1785.

11. The Fourth of July was not declared a national holiday until 1941.

12. Both the Philippines and Rwanda celebrate July 4th as a day of liberation. In Southeast Asia, it is known as “Republic Day” and Rwandans celebrate “Liberation Day.”

13. John Adams and Thomas Jefferson are responsible for the bald eagle as the national bird; Benjamin Franklin wanted it to be the turkey.

These fun and interesting facts are from the U.S. Census Bureau www.census.gov and www.cleveland.com .


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Service Academy Parent Clubs eligible for Write2Them Gift Certificate

Project Write2Them is pleased to announce that they will offer to each Service Academy parents club a gift certificate for a free subscription for service during the 2014 summer basic training at the U.S. Military Service Academies and all U.S. Merchant Marine Academies. All official parent clubs should request a gift certificate, which they may use as a fundraiser or as a door prize at their Class of 2018 New Appointee events.

Project Write2Them provides service to the families and friends the incoming class of 2018 at the U.S. Air Force Academy, West Point – U.S. Military Academy, U.S. Naval Academy,  U.S. Coast Guard Academy and all the Merchant Marine Academies. Service is available at all military basic training and boot camp locations.

“Mail Call is simply the best part of a cadet’s, plebe’s or midshipman’s day”, says Helen Simmons, Executive Director, “we make it easier for parents and friends to write daily letters.”  In addition to parents, other family members and friends can use the account,  so their loved ones can receive lots of positive support during this very difficult training period.

Parent Club Presidents should contact hsimmons@write2them.net for more information and to request a gift certificate.


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Bible verses for Your Recruit at Basic Training

During basic training, military recruits are able to attend worship services. This is the one hour during the week that these young men and women are able to relax, sit and not have to worry about the DI (Drill Instructor) or MTI (Military Training Instructor) bothering them. I suspect that many of these recruits nod off to sleep not because the sermon is boring or that they are not interested, but simply because they are exhausted.

No matter what domination, religious services at the training locations are supportive and welcoming places of refuge from the intensity of training. It is truly a mission to minister to these recruits, when they are under so much stress, homesick and tired.

While your recruit doesn’t have much time to read, you may choose to add some Bible passages to your letters.

Here are some popular passages; where known the appropriate the bible reference is provided.

“Faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.” (Hebrews, 11:1)

“You therefore must endure hardship as a good soldier of Jesus Christ.” (2 Tim:2:3)

“With my God, I can scale a wall” (Psalms 18:29B)

“What can mortal man do to me?” (Psalms 56:11)

“Be still and know I am God” (Psalms 46:10)
“For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways; they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.” (Psalm 91:11-12)

“Do whatever is in your heart, for the Lord is always with you.”
“Where there is no vision, the people perish: but he that keepeth the law, happy is he. “(Proverbs 29:18)

“Whatever you do, work at it wholeheartedly as though you were doing it for the Lord and not merely for people.” (Colossians 3:23)

“For the Lord your God is the one who goes with you, to fight for you against your enemies, to give you the victory.” (Deuteronomy 20:4)

“The things that are impossible with men are possible with God”.(Luke 18:27)

“Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” (James 1:2-4)

“And we pray this order that you may life a life worthy of the life worthy of the Lord and my please him in every way; bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, and joyfully giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in the kingdom of light.” (Colossians 1:10-12)

“He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grew tired and weary, and young men stumbled and fall; but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.” (Isaiah 40)

“So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” (Isaiah 41:10)

“I thank Jesus Christ my Lord, who has given me strength, that He considered my faithful, appointing me to His service.” (1 Timothy 1:12)

“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, 4 who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God. 5 For just as we share abundantly in the sufferings of Christ, so also our comfort abounds through Christ.” (2 Corinthians 1:3-5)

“3 I thank my God every time I remember you. 4 In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy 5 because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, 6 being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” 1 Philippians 3-6)

“12 Not that I have already obtained this or have already reached the goal;[a] but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. 13 Beloved,[b] I do not consider that I have made it my own;[c] but this one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal for the prize of the heavenly[d] call of God in Christ Jesus.” (3 Philippians 12-14)

“Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.” (Joshua 1:9)

I hope you find your favorite passage in the collection above. If not please, add your favorite and help us grow this resource for other parents and spouses with a loved one at basic training.

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Incoming Class of 2017 at the U.S. Military Service Academies

Project Write2Them is gearing up for another great summer of providing service to the families of the incoming class of 2017 at the U.S. Air Force Academy, West Point – U.S. Military Academy, U.S. Naval Academy and the U.S. Coast Guard Academy.

During cadet and midshipmen basic training, these young men and women will forgo the use of cell phones and computers for 6-8 weeks and start their journey to become officers in our armed forces. “Mail Call is simply the best part of their day and we make it easier for the families to stay in touch by turning their emails into letters from home,” says Helen Simmons, Executive Director. Families can add friends to their account, so their loved ones can receive lots of positive support during this very difficult training.

Project Write2Them is pleased to announce that they will offer to each Service Academy parents club a gift certificate for a free subscription for service during the 2013 summer basic training at the US Military Service Academies. All official parent clubs are welcome to request a gift certificate, which they may choose to raffle off as a fundraiser or simply use as a door prize. Club Presidents should contact hsimmons@write2them.net for more information and to request a gift certificate.

The Class of 2017 begins basic training at the service academies on the following dates:
Cadet Basic Training at the US Air Force Academy (USAFA) – June 27th
Plebe Summer at the US Naval Academy (USNA) – June 27th
“BEAST” Cadet Basic Training at West Point (USMA) – July 1st
Swab Summer at the Coast Guard Academy – July 1st.

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Mail and Entertainment

Helen Simmons:

I thought this was an interesting and fun read. Here’s an Army Drill Sergeant’s entertaining look at some of the mail sent to recruits at basic training. No problem with Project Write2Them mail, however, plain white envelopes properly addressed (with plt numbers and names on the back flap), just full of postive thoughts from home. Project Write2Them sends letters to all basic training and boot camp locations.

Originally posted on Life of an Army Drill Sergeant:

English: email envelope

English: email envelope (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Army privates are briefed from the moment they step off the bus at the reception station about contraband such as food, drinks, drugs, etc.  They are not allowed to keep any of these items.  They are later briefed about receiving mail; what they can have and what they can’t have.  We allow them to call home, I reiterate to them,”Tell your families and friends not to send you any kind of food, medicine, electronic devices because you cannot have those things while in basic training.
Throughout my time as a drill sergeant I have seen many interesting packages such as baby wipe containers that have a piece cut out of the center with candy.  I noticed that the package of wipes didn’t have the cellophane wrapping on it.  Then when the private opened it, it was just wipes, until you took the top layer off.  How…

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Patriot’s Day and the Boston Marathon bombings

This blog is so completely ‘off topic’ for Project Write2Them, but I simply must share in light of the tragedy Monday in Boston…Boston, my hometown!

My heart is breaking as I think of all my family and friends in Boston, who have experienced first-hand the terror and heartache of a terrorist attack. This event especially hits home because I grew up in the wonderful town of Medford, Massachusetts, whose citizens are grieving the loss of one of their own daughters, a lovely 29 year-old woman, Krystle Campbell.

I call Medford a ‘town’ because Medford is the biggest ‘small town’ in the metro Boston area. A mere 7 miles north of Boston, Medford is actually a city of 60,000 people, where it seems everyone is related to someone in town or knows someone’s family. Families intermarry, adult children buy their aging parents home and generation after generation return to the ‘fold’ of the Medford community. Medford celebrated families and its rich heritage in history of the early American colonies. Growing up in Medford, my parents never worried about myself or my two sisters; we played outside until the street lights came on. Dodge ball, kick ball, arrow tag and Red Rover filled our days and nights…neighborhood games played on the quiet side streets and in friends’ yards.

Patriot’s Day weekend was always a special time in Medford, a parade followed by the reenactment of Paul Revere’s ride from Charlestown through Medford to Arlington and finally, Lexington and Concord, spreading the word to the Colonists that the Red Coats (the British Soldiers) were marching out from Boston. On April 19, 1776, Colonists fought the British in the famous Battle of Lexington and Concord, where the ‘first shot heard around the world’ was fired and a wonderful new nation was born. Returning home to Medford on Patriot’s Day weekend was like coming home on Thanksgiving, complete with attending the 100 year-old Thanksgiving Day morning football rivalry with neighboring Malden or coming home for Christmas. Simply put, Patriot’s Day weekend was always a mini high school reunion! Just walking through ‘the Square’, you were sure to meet friends from elementary, middle and high school, their siblings and their parents! Now, maybe these experiences are not unique for some towns across our country, but graduating classes from Medford High School during the 1970’s and 1980’s had between 750-900 students.

As I complete this blog, Boston and the surrounding communities are on lock down as the police and Federal law enforcement officials are in pursuit of the one remaining terrorist, the other killed earlier. I hope that the capture of those responsible for this terrorist action bring some peace to the people of Boston.

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Planning a Party Before Your Son or Daughter Leaves for Basic Training or Boot Camp.

I’ll admit it; I do like to gather friends and family together for any occasion…or for no occasion at all, other than to spent time together!

Before our son headed off to Basic Training at Lackland AFB in San Antonio, Texas, we gathered friends and family together for a party! My son wasn’t too excited about the idea initially (he didn’t want to be the center of attention), but during the party he told me how much he enjoyed it and thanked me for putting it all together.  I know the idea of having a celebration when you worried sick and sad about your ‘baby’ heading off to the military seems like the wrong thing to do, but a party or get-together can be a wonderful memory for all of you.  Focusing on the party plans can be a welcome diversion to all the worry and anxiety that you’ll have before they head off to boot camp or basic training.

The get-together can be as easy as a Saturday or Sunday open house with sodas, lemonade, ice tea (or hot coffee and tea) and cake and cookies or it can involve more substantial food offerings like a backyard BBQ, pasta and salad or cold cuts.

Here are some ideas for making this party or get together special.

Party Planning – The Details

1) Set the date and time. I would recommend 2 to 3 weeks before your loved one is scheduled to leave, in case the report date gets moved up.  3 hours is a good amount of time for an open house; 6-9 on weekdays and 1-4 on Saturday and Sundays.

2) Send out invitations or call family and friends with all the details (date, time and place).

3) Every family and area of the country has their own traditions and expectations of food and drink that will be offered at a party or gathering.  Time of day has a lot to do with the amount and type of food to serve. One idea is to have all of your son or daughter’s family favorite recipes. Another idea is to plan a “Souper” party with soup and chili along with assorted breads, crackers and chips.

Cake, pies and cookies are good sweets and the cake can serve as the table centerpiece until eaten.Most bakeries can reproduce the military insignia on the cake and add appropriate words such as “Basic Training (or Boot Camp) is a piece of cake” or simply “Best Wishes” or “Good Luck”, etc.

If people want to help out by bringing food and drinks, be ready with a suggestion for them.

Just make sure that you keep it simple and ask family and friends to help so that you can enjoy this time, too.

4) Decorations and balloons make any get-together more festive and this party is no exception!

Red, white and blue decorations lend that patriotic feel to the occasion and can be used for any branch of military service.  For Air Force, you might want to add silver to the mix. For the Army and Marines, you might select a camouflage theme. For Navy and Coast Guard, a nautical theme might be appropriate. You can find Service specific decorations, table and party ware in party stores or on-line at several different sites.

5) Take lots of photos of your son or daughter with  family and friends.  Remember to get  photos of you with the new recruit and other family members and of course, their friends. You can print out these photos and they can take them along to Basic Training or send them out in your letters after they arrive at boot camp or basic training. Photos of friends and family and don’t forget the family pets are always welcome in those letters!

6) Have a notebook handy for family and friends to write down notes of support and best wishes to your son or daughter. They will enjoy reading these on the plane to their training location or when they need some support during Basic Training or Boot Camp. Make sure that they put their mailing address in the book so your son or daughter has these addresses for filling out the security information for graduation day passes.  While your son or daughter will probably be too tired to send many letters to family and friends back home, but having the addresses will certainly help, if they do want to write.

7) Another idea is to have a stack of postcards available so guests write a short note. Once you receive your  mailing address at Basic Training, you can address the cards and send them out.

8) For making sure that your Recruit gets lots of notes from family and friends, you might want to look at a service such as Write2Them, which lets family and friends send email to a special email address and they make sure the emails are mailed out to your loved one. Be sure to get everyone’s email address at the party, so you can add them as Friends when you set up your Write2Them account. This way they can easily continue to send notes of support and photos to your loved one via email throughout basic training.

Remember, whether your gathering or party just has immediate family or includes friends, this is a very special time. Be sure to enjoy these days and the time you spend with your loved one before they head off to Basic Training or Boot Camp!

I’d love to hear about your party! Share your tips along with any photos here!

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How to Write a Thank-you Note – This was so entertaining!

I am just about to finish up my Christmas and holiday thank you notes, so I was intrigued when I was alerted to this wonderfully entertaining blog from imissyouwheniblink entitled ‘How to write a Thank-you Note’ . You can find the blog at http://imissyouwheniblink.com

Writing a great note is not always easy, but is almost always treasured and appreciated by the recipient. In fact, except for wedding gifts and baby shower gifts, I am not sure how many people actually handwrite and mail thank you notes today. If you are inclined to send a written (or an email) note, this blog presents a nice reminder for how to craft a thank you note and then proceeds to entertain us in a very humorous way. Read through her examples that cover a variety of ‘tricky’ thank note situations and get inspired to write those notes or email! At the very least, you will have a good laugh.

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Eight Great Ideas When Writing Letters to Recruits at Basic Training

When our loved ones are away at Boot Camp or Basic Military Training, we want to show our love and support by keeping a steady stream of letters (or emails if you use Write2Them) coming their way.  I know the whole idea of a blank piece of paper or an empty email with only the TO and From fields filled in is intimidating, but don’t be afraid..your Airman, Soldier, Guardsman, Sailor or Marine will be so happy to hear from you!

If you’re committed to writing letters to your loved one at basic training every day, as many of our customers are, or you simply want to send just one letter a week, this article is for you.

The most important thing is simply to write to your loved one at Basic Training and keep your letters positive.  You don’t have to write long letters; short little notes or random thoughts that come to you throughout the day are perfect.

You don’t have to be creative to get a short note out to your loved one. Remember all news from home is new to them!

Here are eight more ideas that you might put in your letter (or email) to your son, daughter, grandchild or spouse while they are at Basic Training.

1)      Updates on their hometown sports teams (high school, college and pros) will give you plenty of ‘newsy’ items to share!  Most national and local newspapers publish their papers on the Internet and many times you can simply ‘copy and paste’ the text.

2)      Stories about your day, what the dog did, what brothers and sisters are doing.

3)      Photos of family members and pets (no nude photos, please); we don’t want our recruits getting in trouble.

4)      Art work from young children in the household.

5)      Send jokes…no one needs a smile more than someone going through boot camp or  basic training.  I like Knock Knock jokes because they are either so corny that you smile, groan and shake your head or you smile and chuckle because they are amazingly clever. Either way your loved one should be smiling!

You can find a nice selection of Knock Knock jokes at http://www.knock-knock-joke.com/ or http://knockknockjokes4u.wordpress.com that are rated P-PG, no need to get your Soldier, Guardsman, Sailor, Airmen or Marine in trouble.

6)      Bible quotes and  other motivational quotes and stories (I’ll be putting together some suggestions in a later Blog)

7)      Each day you probably receive at least one forwarded email from your friends with the latest in cute animal photos or funny cartoons.

8)     ALWAYS tell them how PROUD you are of them and their decision to serve our country, how much you LOVE and CARE about them and how much you are looking forward to GRADUATION DAY when you can give them a big hug!

The bottom line is write to them and encourage other family members and friends to write too! When their name is called at Mail Call, they will be excited to get their “Letter from Home”.

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Five Do’s and Don’t’s When Writing Letters to Recruits at Basic Training

Here’s a reposting of our Five Do’s and Don’t’s When Writing to Recruits at Basic Training or Boot Camp.

So now your son or daughter, boyfriend or girlfriend, brother, sister or friend has headed off to Basic Training or Boot Camp. These next 8 to 10 weeks, or in the case of Marines 13 weeks will be some of the most challenging times for them and you.

Away from home, parents, loved ones, buddies and friends and surrounded by strangers (the other recruits) and non-smiling TI (Technical Instructors) or DI (Drill Instructors), the questions are… How do you stay in touch with them? How often should  you write? What should you say to help through the training until you can see them again at graduation?

Here are 5 simple Do’s and Don’t’s.

The DO’s.

  1. Simply write often to your soldier, sailor, airman, marine and guardsman. Remember …The best time of the day for these recruits will be ‘Mail Call’ ….especially when their name is called out!
  2. You don’t have to write a long letter; short upbeat notes from home can be just as effective.
  3. Send them photos, news about their favorite sports team or what’s going on at home.
  4. Use plain white envelopes, don’t decorate or scent the envelopes; this can get the Technical Instructor or Drill Instructors attention… usually not a good thing.
  5. Do tell them that you’re proud of them and that you’re looking forward to seeing them at Graduation or when they return home from training for a visit.

The Don’ts

  1. Don’t send money; they don’t have much spare time or access to shopping and all money is logged in and locked up. This more work for the Instructors and trouble for your recruit. I made this mistake myself!
  2. Don’t send pornography or ‘pin-up’ or nude photos, off-color or racist jokes or comics. These items can get your soldier, sailor, marine, airman or guardsman in serious trouble.
  3. Don’t send packages of goodies. Basic is not the time for ‘Care Packages”.
  4. Don’t complain about not being able to talk to them or about how lonely you are. They are worried about doing well in training, may be homesick  and wish they could talk more often to you. Hearing that you’re upset is another worry for them.
  5. Don’t send bad news…almost anything can wait until they have completed training.  Of course, in the event of family illness or death, you should contact the American Red Cross who will get in touch with your loved ones training commanders.

Services like Write2Them can make it easier for you and their friends to stay in touch while your loved one is at Basic Training or Boot Camp by letting you send email with attachments such as photos or newspaper articles, sport team updates, jokes, funny or inspirational stories, favorite quotes or Bible verses.  You can find more information about the Write2Them service at http://www.write2them.com.

Please feel free to add your ideas to this post,

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