January 12, 1966
Students of Mrs. Olivia Moe’s 7A reading class in Morehead Elementary School received a pleasant surprise upon their return to school after the Christmas holidays in the form of a letter from Marine Capt. Richard P. Capatosto in Viet Nam.
Mrs. Moe said that the captain is a friend of the father of one of her students and the class had decided to send a Christmas letter to him, telling him of their support of U.S. fighting men in Viet Nam and that they were proud of him as a U.S. representative. The class has been studying current events.
The letter from Capt. Capatosto a member of the 2nd Light AA Missile Battalion, H and S Battery, is dated Dec. 28, 1965. It says:
“Dear Students of the 7A Reading Class,
“When I received your warm and delicately expressive letter, I could not help but flush with pride at being a member of a family of Americans who care enough to express their patriotic beliefs and to comfort a Marine half way around the world with words of assurance concerning our common cause. I shall treasure your letter for the priceless gift that it is.
“As I reflect upon the tone of your words, my thoughts drifted back to my own school days and in particular to my sketchy recollection of ancient Greek history. There one can relive the tale of the greatest warrior of that time, Achilles. You will recall that Achilles, while being held by his heel, was bathed in sacred water, which was to protect him from all harm. And so it did for many battles. Achilles, however, was eventually killed by an arrow in the heel, the one place not covered by the protective ritual.
“I am sure you will agree that our America has also been blessed with a sacred cloak. This evidenced by the nature of our founding, by our heritage, and by the high status we enjoy among the nations of the world.
“The pessimists among us are quick to parallel our present state with that of Sodom and Gomorrah, the Roman Empire and the Babylonian Kingdom who were equally progressive and militarily unconquerable in their day. Each of these nations eventually declined, of course, and historians point to their pitiful display of unity, of that intangible inner strength required of true greatness, as their Achilles heel.
“Through letters like yours, I am thoroughly convinced that this weakness of other nations is the very cement that binds successive generations of Americans into a cohesive, united people.
“The Christophers have an expression which reads like this, ‘It is better to light just one little candle than to curse the darkness.’ There are a few who perceive our current efforts as a ‘corridor of darkness.’ I disagree and wish to thank you and the many like you, who have taken the time and effort to write us of your support. Each of these letters is a ‘light’ and collectively they comprise the torch that is held high by that ‘Great American Lady’ who stands so majestically in New York harbor; a symbol of our cause, our purpose.
“Keep up the good work. We are proud of you.”