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Merry Christmas from Antigonish County: Couple sends over 100 letters to troops serving overseas

Mike Knocton went to the Antigonish post office Sunday, Dec. 15, 2019 to mail some of the more than 100 Christmas letters he wrote to Canadian troops serving overseas.
Mike Knocton went to the Antigonish post office Sunday, Dec. 15, 2019 to mail some of the more than 100 Christmas letters he wrote to Canadian troops serving overseas. - Aaron Beswick
ARISAIG, N.S. —

On Sunday afternoon, Mike Knocton and Roseanne MacEachern mailed the last of some very special letters.

They’ll likely never know the hands that open them or even where they end up.

There are 2,100 Canadian Armed Forces personnel serving overseas this Christmas.

More than 100 of them will be getting a letter from Knocton with a Christmas card and a poem of thanks he penned himself.

“I just imagined what it would be like to be a young person a long ways from home,” said Knocton, 59.

“I wanted them to know that people back here are thinking about them.”

The Forces put out a request over Twitter in late November that people write to the troops serving overseas for Christmas.

“In the morning, I would walk into the cafeteria to get breakfast, and everybody would stop eating and stare at me with lit-up eyes, hoping they would be the lucky ones to get a letter or a small package,” Master Warrant Officer Jacques Ouellette, in charge of postal operations at the Canadian Joint Operations Command, said recently in a written statement.

“For the soldiers, mail was almost as important as food.”

Beyond well-known missions in Iraq and Syria, there are smaller groups of Canadians serving in places few of us could imagine — like the 10 stationed with Operation Soprano in South Sudan, five on Operation Kobold in Kosovo or the nine on Operation Crocodile in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Knocton’s not on Twitter, but the autobody technician saw a story in the Globe and Mail about letters of thanks being sent to Canadians serving overseas.

And then there’s MacEachern, who grew up in a military family and whose brother served three tours in Afghanistan.

So for the past two weekends they turned their kitchen table in Arisaig, Antigonish County, into a production line.

Courtesy of an elementary teacher a half century ago, Knocton has an elegant looping cursive, so he wrote all the letters. MacEachern folded them, licked envelopes and added the address.

His poem The Canadian Soldier praises the selflessness of service.

Poetry was a hobby he picked up during long drives around the province in a previous occupation.

His first was written in 2001 for MacEachern.

Since then he’s added others for those he considers heroes.

There’s Spyro the World’s Smallest Hero that he penned after hearing a radio broadcast about a miniature schnauzer that saved its owner from a black bear at Sandbar Lake, Ont., in 2013.

There’s Old Barns, a poem for MacEachern’s father, who in the years before he joined the military raised barns.

“They’re my hero poems,” said Knocton.

Some of those heroes will be getting a letter from him this Christmas.

Would you like to send mail to a Canadian Armed Forces member? Mail to:

P.O. Box 5004, Stn Forces
Belleville, Ont.
K8N 5W6

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