VALENTINE'S DAY ESSAY CONTEST WINNERS
Donna M. and George F. Walsh share some homebaked Valentine's Day cookies with her children, Patrick, 6, and Maggie, 2, as the family gathers by the fireplace in their Burghill home. (Jean Neice/Herald)
Friendship letter to `Dear Marine' evolves into loveBy Donna Walsh writing about her husband, George
IT BEGAN IN December 1983. Emotions in our country were running high. Two months before, more than 200 Marines died when a suicide bomber attacked their quarters in Beirut, Lebanon. I was a junior at the University of Akron. I found an address in a local paper to send letters to the Marines in Beirut. I didn't know anyone over there personally, but I sent a letter and Christmas card to ``Dear Marine ...''
Two months later I was surprised to receive a letter from a Cpl. George F. Walsh, originally from Boston, now stationed in Beruit. He sounded so polite and seemed glad to know people at home were thinking of them. I learned of their dismal conditions in bunkers under almost constant sniper and rocket attacks.
His letter began our friendship. We exchanged letters without fail for a year and a half. Then in May 1985 after graduating from college, my cousin Dianne and I decided on a whim to take a trip to Myrtle Beach, S.C., as a post-graduation present to ourselves.
At that time, George was back in the USA, stationed at Camp LeJeune, N.C. I thought it would be fun to stop and say hello, since we were going through the area on the way to Myrtle Beach. We'd been writing for 18 months. We'd never even talked on the phone and this would probably be our one and only chance to meet!
I can still remember the look on his face the first time we met! We were so nervous I honestly had no romantic intentions _ but George's intentions were different! After a romantic candlelight dinner, dancing, a moonlight walk on the beach, balloons and roses, I began to think maybe he really was ``the one.''
We said our tearful good-byes the day we had planned to head on to Myrtle Beach and I knew things would never be the same. George and his buddy tracked us down _ checking hotels in Myrtle Beach until they found us! They slept outside on our balcony and were total gentlemen. They insisted on paying for all our meals and for our hotel for the rest of our stay!
We wrote and phoned and racked up lots of frequent flyer miles during the yearlong courtship that followed. Finally in the fall of 1986 George proposed!
Although I knew I loved him, I was nervous about accepting his proposal _ after all, we'd never even lived in the same state!
I did accept, and we were married on July 2, 1988. That was nearly 10 years ago! They have been 10 wonderful years, full of blessings _ especially our children, Patrick, 6, and Maggie, 2.
It's hard to believe it all started over 15 years ago with a letter! He's still my best friend, still a gentleman, still bringing me flowers and we still have every single letter we ever wrote! I can't help but believe in destiny. I thank God for bringing us together.