I'm reposting this letter in its entirety, in part because none of it should be edited out and because the Inkwaster will eventually archive it and many of you aren't signed up for it.
Originally, the contents of this letter were intended only for you. But I slowly realized how important it was to get my thoughts out so that everyone in the area knows what a great man you are.
The things you are about to read have not been made apparent enough to you over the 23 years of my life. But now, as I prepare to deploy to Iraq, I realize that all the things you have done for the family, all your sacrifices, are what shaped me into the man I am today.
You have been a perfect role model for Mike, Josh and me, and you are a standard for fathers everywhere to aim for.
Maybe you look at me and see a son who leads a life completely different from yours when you were my age, but I could not see more similarities if I tried.
What you have done throughout my childhood has molded me into a man I am proud of, a man just like you.
I remember we were never a rich family. As a matter of fact, we were a family that was happy to get by. You would work three jobs at a time to make sure the family was taken care of. I have adopted this virtue of selfless service from you.
I work whatever hours are necessary for my family, which is the Army, to ensure it succeeds and is taken care of. I will do whatever is needed to make sure my soldiers are taken care of as well as you took care of the whole family. For this I thank you.
Mom was always more outspoken. She always made the point to tell us what the right thing was and made sure we followed through with it. We all learned a lot from her.
The difference is I realized what I was learning from her as I learned it.
But sometimes what you do outweighs anything you say. With a quiet demeanor, you helped instill morals and standards in us. You kept religion important and made education a priority.
The sons you have brought up are now stand-up men, and I do not feel overconfident in saying so.
Mike has one more year until he is ordained a priest, I am an officer in the Army, and Josh will assuredly be a success in whatever realm he chooses. Your daughter, Kerri, also is preparing for a profession of selfless service, nursing.
All of this undoubtedly has to do with you. We were all lucky to have you as a role model, and Mom is lucky to have you as a husband.
There are not enough men like you in the world, Dad. Other fathers should strive to be like you. Some go out and make a great deal of money to make themselves feel satisfied. You went out and constantly gave of yourself to make a great family.
The "family man" is truly one of the most underappreciated things in America.
As I prepare to leave on my journey for the next year, I want to make clear my true thanks for everything you have done - without even knowing it - to prepare me for it.
I am not fearful, not worried and not regretful in any way for my decision to do what I am doing. What I have learned from you has prepared me for this journey to Iraq. I will not forget it when I am away. I hope my soldiers learn from my actions, the way I did from yours.
P.S. Someone had better be e-mailing me Eagles updates every week.Matthew Jon Romano, a second lieutenant in the Army's 25th Infantry Division, is stationed in Hawaii. He is formerly of Blackwood, where his parents, Debbie and Michael Romano, still live