Dear Piper and Zoe,
What a year it’s been, huh?
Piper, your entire life people have been hiding their faces behind masks, and you haven’t been to too many places yet. I’ve only been able to meet you once in your entire life! That will change soon, and I can’t wait to hold you.
Zoe, you’ve grown so much and are such a good big sister to Piper, even though you’re not very old yourself. Do remember when I carried you on my back on that long hike in Acadia National Park, and you laughed the whole way? That was one of my favorite times in my whole life—and I’m old and have a lot of experiences. Well, not too old. I’m the exact same age as your dad since we’re twins.
It’s been a hard year. Apart from not being able to see each other very much, you’ve probably noticed that a lot of people are mad at each other. Really mad. Even people in our own family can’t talk about what’s going on in the world without getting upset at each other. I don’t want you to grow up in a place where you can’t talk about things that are important to you because you worry it will make someone mad. Different experiences and backgrounds—and the perspectives and opinions that come from them–are part of what makes the country so amazing.
I want to teach you to love this country as much as your Dad and I do. Did you know your Daddy and I were in the Army together? We were even in Iraq at the same time. Once, I made up a reason to commandeer a helicopter to fly to where he was to surprise him. When we landed everyone couldn’t believe that there were “two Captain Cathcarts!?”. It made me so proud because I could tell his Soldiers admired him and that your Dad was a good leader.
I’m really worried about this country though. I’m worried we are slowly slipping away from what we were always meant to be, and that the promise of America is fading. It really hurts me. I want you to grow up in the America that your Dad and I did. We had problems, and there is always progress to be made, but it wasn’t like it is now. People could disagree and then sit down and share a meal and laugh together. We learn from people that we disagree with, and when we are uncomfortable—that’s when we grow. I want you little ladies to learn from everyone you meet.
I want you to have lives filled with joy and adventure. I want you to be fierce and stand up not only for yourselves, but for those you cannot for themselves. I want you to love this country as much as I do, and to make it a better place.
I’m already working really hard on it. I truly believe that if we get Americans who don’t agree on everything to actually meet, to improve the community they both live in, and to share a good meal that they will learn from each other. They will grow and we can heal. I am so proud of my time serving this country in the Army. The greatest honor of my life was leading Soldiers in combat in Iraq and Afghanistan. Now my greatest honor is being your Uncle.
Even with the medals and awards from my combat service, the work I’m committed to now is even more important. I fought for the idea of America. Now, here, I fight for the idea of America for you.
You have so much strength already in you. Your Mom was born in another country, adopted by your grandparents and now is a health care provider in underserved communities. She is the epitome of strength and the fulfilling of America’s promise. She is making the country a better place. Your Dad is an Army Ranger who trained the Iraqi Army, and even though I can still win in a fight against him—he’s incredibly strong. They both love you so much.
I want you to understand what loving this country means: Service to others. A willingness to listen and learn. Servant leadership. Enjoying the freedoms that are given to us, and the gratitude for those freedoms.
Most importantly, I want you both to be able to do and be whatever makes you happy. Part of that happiness is living in a place where everyone isn’t mad at each other all the time. I’m already working on that for you.
I love you,