Woman's letters to troops span six wars

September 16, 2009 (BURBANK, Ill.) Barbara Spanier, who lives in southwest suburban Burbank, has been sending letters from home to troops since 1944.

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Spanier's patriotism is always on display outside her small apartment. And inside, several days a week, she proves that loving America is much more than just flags. She writes letters to local soldiers in combat zones. She fills them in on what's going on back home.

"I'm writing to Keith Crow," said Spanier. Crow is from Oak Lawn, Illinois. "He's in Afghanistan."

Spanier's written letters to troops serving abroad for six wars. She has no idea how many she has written but does remember when it started in 1944.

"I started writing to my uncle who was in the Marines and he was sent over to Guadalcanal and from there ... he was the first person that I started writing to," said Spanier.

Then along came Korea and her letters went to a guy named Bill, Bill Spanier. Barbara married him just before he shipped out. Bill survived Korea and then Barbara kept writing during Vietnam, the Gulf War, Iraq and now Afghanistan. They almost always go to sons and grandsons of Chicago area friends.

Spanier, of course, wrote handwritten letters until she got her first computer several years ago. But no! She does not e-mail. She sends real, old-fashioned letters. She wants her solders in arms to have something real to save. Something from home.

"I feel like they're my sons. I only have four girls and I feel like they were my sons," said Spanier.

And, yes, they do write back, which is Spanier's biggest joy.

"When I go to the mailbox and find a letter from one of them I can't wait to get into the house and open it and read it," said Spanier.

She loves writing the letters, but wishes the wars would end so no more would be needed.

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