I had a meeting at my media agency on Friday, always a good way to round off the week since it’s invariably peppy and optimistic. A side benefit is that they always have lots of free copies of The Week in reception. Two points regarding The Week: (1) It’s a great weekly summary of articles sourced from the world’s publications which ensures you find something you would not normally have found during your usual grazing of the media and; (2) the US version is published by a good friend, Jed Hartman, the best lunch host you could ever want.
But back to point (1). Towards the end of the weekly there was a double spread containing letters sent home by a 19 year old British Rifleman named Cyrus Thatcher serving in Afghanistan. I misread the start and plowed through the first 3 letters home before realising that this was not going to end well and that the final letter was a letter to be read should he be killed in action.
In reproducing the letter below I’m not making any commentary on the war. All I really want to do is relay some very honest and powerful words as a way of expressing my respect for someone who was dedicated to his country and his family.
“Hello its me, this is gonna be hard for you to read but I write this knowing every time you thinks s***s got to much for you to handle (so don’t cry on it MUM!!) you can read this and hopefully it will help you all get through. For a start S*** I got hit!! Now Iv got that out the way I can say the things Iv hopefully made clear, or if I havent this should clear it all up for me. My hole life you’v all been there for me through thick and thin bit like a wedding through good and bad.
Without you I believe I wouldn’t have made it as far as I have. I died doing what I was born to do I was happy and felt great about myself although the army was sadly the ending of me it was also the making of me so please don’t feel any hate toward it. One thing I no I never made clear to you all was I make jokes about my life starting in the Army. That’s wrong VERY wrong my life began a LONG time before that (Obviously) but you get what I mean. All the times Iv tried to neglect the family get angry when you try teach me right from wrong wot I mean to say is I only realised that you were trying to help when I joined the army and without YOUR help I would have never had the BALLS, the GRIT and the damn right determination to crack on and do it.
If I could have a wish in life it would to be able to say Iv gone and done things many would never try to do. And going to Afghan has fulfilled my dream ie my goal. Yes I am young wich as a parent must brake you heart but you must all somehow find the strength that I found to do something no matter how big the challenge. As Im writing this letter I can see you all crying and mornin my death but if I could have one wish in an “after life” it would be to stop your crying and continueing your dreams (as I did) because if I were watching only that would brake my heart. So dry your tears and put on a brave face for the rest of your friends and family who need you. I want each and everyone of you to forfill a dream and at the end of it look at what you have done (completed) and feel the accomplishment and achievement I did only then will you understand how I felt when I passed away.
To borthers Steely and Zac: You are both amazing men and will continue to be throughout your lives you both deserve to be happy and fofill all of your dreams. Dad – my idol, my friend, my best friend, my teacher, my coach, everything I ever succeeded in my life I owe to you and maybe a little bit of me! You are a great man and the perfect role model and the past two years of being in the army I noticed that and me and you have been on the best level we have ever been. I thank you for nothing because I no all you have given to me is not there to be thanked for its there because you did it cause you love me and that is my most proudest thing I could ever say.
Mum, where do I start with you!! For a start your perfect, your smell, your hugs, the way your life was dedicated to us boys and especially the way you cared each and every step us boys took. I love you, you were the reason I made it as far as I did you were the reason I was loved more than any child I no and that made me feel special. Your all such great individuals and I hope somehow this letter will help you get through this s*** time!!
Just remember do NOT mourn my death as hard as this will seem, celebrate a great life that has had its ups and downs. I love you all more than you would ever no and in your own individual ways helped me get through it all. I wish you all the best with your dreams. Remember chin up head down.
With love Cyrus xxxx”