December 28th, 2009
06:02 PM ET

Meet the troops' 92-year-old pen pal

Update: Many readers have asked how they can write to the troops themselves. The Department of Defense offers a page with resourses to help you send letters and messages as well as a form that will allow you to email the troops. Some readers have also chimed in with their favorite methods in the comments.

A few weeks ago, my mom called asking, "Have you heard what Bob Cooper's mom is doing?" Bob Cooper was the baseball coach at my high school. His mom Alleen, whom I'd never met, is a 92-year-old great-grandma. She's also a fiercely independent widow who lives on her own in the Lakewood, California, home where she raised two boys.

"She's writing the troops," my mom says, "during the last two years she's written them more than 2,000 letters." I call Alleen myself and quickly learn this isn't her first foray into writing soldiers. "I started during World War II," she tells me. Now, nearly 70 years later, she's decided "it's time to show my support to the troops of this century." My next phone call is to my boss at CNN who agrees to send a camera crew.

Before we arrive, I've checked into where Alleen's letters are heading – one to a solider so badly burned he's receiving prosthetic ears in a Houston Army hospital, another to a Marine first sergeant who is the father of two girls and preparing to deploy to Afghanistan, and many more to 18, 19 and 20-year-old troops. I wonder what this 92-year-old has to say to all these Marines and soldiers who are worlds away and generations removed. FULL POST

December 28th, 2009
02:25 PM ET

Photo Spotlight: Praying during Ashura

An Afghan woman prays during Ashura in Kabul on Sunday.  Ashura is a major Muslim Holy day to mark the death of Imam Hussein, the 7th century grandson of the prophet Mohammad who was killed in a battle in 680 A.D., as a martyr.

Filed under: Life and Culture • Photo Spotlight