Fallen Heroes of Operation Iraqi Freedom

Remembering the servicemembers who died in the service of their country.

Army Pfc. Jesse A. Givens


34, of Springfield, Missouri.
Givens was parked in an M-1 main battle tank alongside the bank of the Euphrates River in Al Habbaniyah, Iraq. The riverbank gave way resulting in the tank falling into the river. Givens was assigned to 2nd Squadron, 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment, Fort Carson, Colorado. Died on May 1, 2003.

This photo was taken the night Givens left, April 6 2003, just 3 weeks before he died. In the picture is Given's wife, Melissa, and their 6 year old son, Dakota. Their second son, Carson, was born 28 days after his daddy passed.

Correspondence or donations for the family may be mailed to:

Melissa Givens
PO BOX 116
Fountain CO 80817


My son, knowing your love of poetry, I found this one on a website for soldiers (composed for them) and I knew you would like it so it seemed necessary to post it here for your friends and family to see.

Knowing son that you loved the song "I Believe" by Diamond Rio, I knew you would love this poem and want it shared with the people that loved you. You're missed more than anyone can say and there is nothing that can fill that gap.

Your Mother

One More Day

Last night I had a crazy dream.
A wish was granted just for me, it could be for anything.
I didn't ask for money, or a mansion in Malibu.
I simply wished for one more day with you.

One more day.
One more time.
One more sunset maybe I'd be satisfied.
But then again,
I know what it would do.
Leave me wishing still for one more day with you.

The first thing I'd do, is pray for time to crawl.
I'd unplug the telephone, and keep the TV off.
I'd hold you every second.
And say a million "I Love You's"
It's what I'd do for one more day with you.

One more day.
One more time.
One more sunset maybe I'd be satisfied.
But then again,
I know what it would do.
Leave me wishing still for one more day with you.

by Diamond Rio

Please send information, photos, and corrections for Army Pfc. Jesse A. Givens.

Links:

Music brings new life to the words of a fallen soldier
Final Letter of Pfc. Jesse Givens
Rocky Mountain News: America At War — Card 'drownded' with Dad
9NEWS.com (Colorado): A soldier's last letter
New York Times: Excerpt of final letter to family
Rocky Mountain News: America At War — An unfathomable sorrow
Contributions to the Families of the Fallen

Messages:

Leave a message in memory of this servicemember, and/or to the loved ones left behind.

Please report inappropriate messages

"Missy, my sincerest condolences to you. I found Jesse's last letter online several years ago, and it stuck with me. I googled it today and found the facebook page you made in memory of him. Your words are beautiful.
Although I've never met you or Jesse, please know that his words have had a profound impact on me and my family. Thank you for sharing your husband with us. You will all forever be in my prayers. God bless. +JMJ"
Connie V of Houston, TX USA

"Givens family,
I have just finished the book Final Salute and your story has brought tears to my eyes many times. I will forever br praying for you guys. No matter what people say, he died a hero and will remain a hero throughout eternity."
Rebekah Brooks of Newark, New York

"Jesse April 5 2014
Well here I am on what was your last night home with us 11 years ago. What a stressful overwhelming time, I got so sick of you packing and repacking those bags. My heart was torn out each time you did it. I watched you read books to Dakota and try to again explain that you had to leave, and just what that meant. He ask you again if you were going to die, You didn't want to promise him that you wouldn't, so you said you would try not to. There are so many things that I cant remember, Other things that are burnt into me, and somethings that just come and go like the breath from my body. I remember laying with you in the bed, facing you, crying, You holding my hand trying to ensure me that it would be ok. I was scared and I was so afraid of being alone. Scared of what could happen, Scared of myself, and my inability to make good decisions, Scared of my demons, Scared I would let you down, that I would let the kids down. Terrified to be in a town where I didn't really know anyone, to have a baby by myself. So scared of you never coming home, scared that you would but you wouldn't want to be with me because of the time that had passed. That one seems silly to me now as I still want to be with you 11 years later. The hours leading up to the 6th of April 2003 were some of the longest of my life but the shortest at the same time. What I would do if I could go back. More than anything I would try to make sure that you knew how much I love you. Sometimes I am just not so sure you knew, as I was not real good at showing it. I often wonder if you know how deep my love for you ran, That I would love you forever. I had never felt that before and I wasn't always very good at reacting to those feelings. I hope that you know. That I loved you from day one, and that I will love you through the rest of time. No matter what happens in this life, I will love you! Love Missy"
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"Jesse,
I would just like to say thank you for your service and sacrifice for our Country. And to your family-especially your wife and sons I wish to extend my deepest sympathy. I left a post here a few years ago and just like everybody else when I heard your wife read your letter on HBO-it just tore me up."
Mike C. of El Paso, Texas

"I haven't wrote on here forever. Jesse I miss you like crazy, everyday baby. To all those who continue to write on here Thank you. I print your comments out and have a binder I put them in for my boys. It is nice for them to see that others believe their dad is a hero. This site has always been very healing for me and I hope overtime it will be the same for our boys. So from the bottom of my heart, Thank you all. Thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts, feelings and stories. We are coming up on ten years since Jesse was taken from us, We have moved forward but the pain I believe will always be there for those that love him. There is a void that I don't believe can ever be filled. Jesse you are missed and loved more than words baby."
Melissa Givens of Colorado

"11-15-2012
I just read Pfc Givens' final letter to his family on the Letters of Note web site (http://www.lettersofnote.com/2012/11/i-will-always-be-there-with-you.html) and was so moved by his words that I felt the need to write. I could not put together any better words than Jesse has already written, so I'll keep it short. Please know that his memory will endure through the thoughts and prayers of those he has touched. Sincere wishes from our family to yours."
Paul McMahon of Wilmington, MA

"I wanted to take a minute to remember my little brother today. I can't believe it has been 9 years, and yet it feels today like I just heard he died. Images from the lake, playing on the golf course, football in the front yard, the fights (and they were good ones too), time spent watching old horror movies with Mom, the oy-oy monster, and our late night discussions of politics, law, and football keep coming to me today. Not a productive day at work to say the least. As others thank you for your sacrifice today and on through Memorial Day, I thank you for your love and friendship. I miss you, Jess!"
Reg of Lamar, MO

"Jesse, the month of March 2012 is about over. The Month that you were born in,on the (11th). The whole month the picture of that little boy laying wrapped in a yellow blanket watching me fold diapers, those little black eyes following my every move and so serious. That was the picture that kept coming to me, you were only weeks old. Thank God for the memory and all of the very vivid memories. Love and miss you. Mom"
Connie Givens

"To the family of Jesse A. Givens,
god bless you and your children. thank you. my email is sarah_051954@hotmail.com if you would like to talk."
proud navy wife

"I heard Lee Hoiby's "Last Letter Home" on the radio tonight. The dj read Jesse's letter before playing the song, and it was the first time I had ever heard Jesse's story. I don't know if I have ever heard anyone express their love for their family so eloquently. I get teary-eyed just thinking about it. He was able to capture his emotions so beautifully on paper, that his wife and sons will never have to question how much he loves them. I know I will never forget him or the family that he loved so dearly. Melissa and boys, if you are reading this, God bless you."
Tiffany of Charlotte, NC

"Always remembered. ~ 11/11/2011"
Dietz Family of Oregon

"May time heal your aching heart. May the love and memories be everlasting. Jesse, your boys will enable your spirit to live on. Melissa, hoping every day will be just a bit better, easier, and always filled with love."
Kevin Carhart of Herndon, VA

"I am so sorry for your loss. I bet Jesse was a great guy. Again i am really sorry.
Fayth"
Fayth Rakes of Linn Creek Mo US

"Today is the fourth of july. This holiday is the anniversary of our dependence. But it also represents the many lives that were lost in order to keep our independence. I read you story in Jim Sheeler's Final Salute. I would like to thank you and all the other soldiers that served our country. I hope this message gives your family strength."
Michael of Los Angeles

"I just heard Lee Hoiby's "Last Letter Home" and was completely taken aback by the beauty of Jesse's final words (for those who may be reading this but not know, Hoiby, a composer, set text from Jesse's final letter home to music). I've recently heard people say that they wouldn't consider humans an advanced species, largely because "advanced" is a relative term and we seem to be so prone to war and selfishness. However, I think Jesse's letter could stand alone as the sole refute to that argument, not to mention the ethereality of the music that accompanied it. Any creature who can have that much love to give, can feel that kind of emotion, and can put his life on the line in defense of many that would take pleasure in spitting in his face for his service, I would most assuredly consider advanced. Why? Because selflessness of that magnitude is the hardest thing to achieve in this life, and one that does so has overcome that most primal and universal of urges - self-preservation. Few beings that I am aware of achieve it. I'd say that makes him pretty advanced.

To Jesse's family, you had a gem in that soldier. Be happy for the life he lived with you and laid down for his country. May God bless you and bring you peace."
Perry of Georgia

"Carson,
I got to spend the Memorial Day weekend with you at T.A.P.S. this year. I think we had a great weekend together and I gained a ton fom the experience. I got home this evening after the closing ceremony and was thinking about a little boy that never got the chance to meet his daddy. It still breaks my heart to think about what you, Dakota and your mom have to bear each and every day without your daddy there. I know he would be super proud of you and all your talents. As a Soldier of 18 years, I can tell you how much people honor your daddy. He will be remembered by many, those that knew and loved him, and those that never had the privilege. I would have been honored to stand beside him anywhere and I will be honored to see you each year at T.A.P.S. I will be there at the camp each year.

Jesse,
I never had the chance to meet you, but you have an awesome little man in Carson."
1SG Chris Matthews of Fort Meade, MD

"I have heard the story of Jesse Givens multiple times now. I have read it in different books and I have seen it on the HBO special. I am always touched so much by the love he had for his family. It has always brought me to tears. I am a 37 year old man and I cry like a baby. I pray for the wife he left behind and the 2 boys he sacrficed it all for. The love he had for his family is unique and beyond anything that could be explained in simple words. I will always keep them in my prayers."
Jason Couture of Augusta Ga

"Hello All of You, Today is 8 years to the day and on May 1st 2011, Osama Bin Laden Is DEAD DEAD DEAD. I love YOU Connie, Melissa, Dakota, and Carson. The rest of the Payne family thought about you Jesse all day. God is reaching out!"
Sandra L. Payne of Orosi, Calif. USA

"Jesse`s family, I am reading the book "The Final Salute". My eyes are red from crying--May God look over your amazing family-Melissa, love that strong cannot die, just because his earth body does, God wouldn`t do that to us.There are "Holes in the Floor of Heaven" sending prayers and encouragemet to all of you"
Linda of Massachusetts

"Happy Birthday Jesse Alan, we love and miss you
Dad"
Dad of Jefferson City Mo.

"Dear Melissa,
I recently decided to base one of my art projects for college on the effects of war. I typed in 'army letters home' on google and the first one that came up was your husbands. His beautiful letter to you reduced me to tears which does not happen often. Later that day I wanted to show my sister his letter and it took me ages to find it again which seamed strange as i found it so soon earlier that day. I have saved his letter now and I am basing my project around it. I hope you don't mind. Your husband signed his letter Love, Always Jess at the end, which moved me even more as i always sign my letters the same way. I was even more atonished when i relised your name was Melissa which is my middle name. I felt like i needed to send my heart felt thoughts to you and your beautiful boys as i believe it was fate for me to find this letter. If you wish to reply with any more information about your brave husband, my email is jessica_olivia92@hotmail.co.uk. Love, Always Jess xxx"
Jessica Olivia Melissa Hutchinson of Spennymoor, United Kingdom

"My name is Ashton Blanksma and I am an ASB officer at Foothills Middle School. I am in 8th grade. I will be reading PFC Givens final letter at our assembly and I am honored. My grandpa gave his life in Vietnam. He was a Captain in the Air Force. http://www.gx2527leftinvietnam.com/homeerle.html Any information that you can give me on Mr. Givens would be helpful."
Ashton Blankmsa of Wenatchee, Wa 98801

"Melissa, Dakota, and Carson,

Not too long ago, a friend of mine and composer at Central Michigan University, Benjamin Laur, wrote a piece for orchestra and baritone in memory of Jesse using his last letter. When Ben asked me to play in the orchestra to accompany him, I had no idea what I was playing. It wasn't until we started rehearsals with Ben that I was shown the letter by another musician. I didn't even make it through the first paragraph with a dry eye. When we premiered the piece, I was no different and the audience was the same way. Even though I had heard every word a thousand times, I cried just as hard as I had the first time.

Ben's piece can be found here: http://www.benjaminlaur.com/index2.htm

I am so glad Ben set Jesse's letter to such amazing music to share his story and yours, and so that more people are aware of the deep emotional price you and so many others have paid. Stay strong and live life just like Jesse wanted you to.



Sincerely,
Kristi"
Kristi Luckritz of Mount Pleasant, MI

"Dear Melissa,I just read about Jesse in a book written by an Israeli author named Yehonatan Gefen. I was thinking about the price we all should pay form these wars. I'd like to wish you all the best and may gos be with you forever."
Eran of Israel

"Mr HALL, WE ARE VERY PROUD TO HAVE YOU READ JESSE LETTER IT IS KEEPING HIS MEMORY ALIVE. WE ARE VERY PROUD OF JESSE AND WE APPRECIATE WHAT YOU ARE DOIING."
CONNIE GIVENS of SPRINGFIELD, MO

"I am history professor at Allan Hancock College in Santa Maria, California. On Veterans Day, 2003, the New York Times published Mr. Givens' letter to his wife and family. In teaching the Civil War, I read Sullivan Ballou's last letter to his wife. Since 2003, I have followed that with Mr. Given's letter to Melissa. In seven years of standing before my students, I have never been able to get through it without becoming choked with emotion. I note to the students I never knew Mr. Givens, and it was years before I ever saw a picture of him. My point is the loss of people such as Ballou and Givens, men who so clearly loved their family yet also loved their country and were willing to risk everything for it, are examples of the true loss of war. I hope I honor the memory of Mr. Givens by my reading of his letter."
Roger Hall of Santa Maria, CA

"Jesse, it has been seven years today and today it feels like my heart is being torn out all over again. Life gets easier to bear and go on, but there are sometimes it gets unbearable still thinking that We will never see you again or talk to you or hold you. We miss you so much. Carson is a god send to see him and watch him, he is so much like you in so many ways. His little black eyes and his loving hugs. Thank God you gave him to us, so that we have a peace of you still here. Dakota still has his great imagination and his big heart and is growing to be a great young man, voice deeping and all. Love you and miss you so much."
Mom of Springfield, Mo

"I AM IN THE NAVY AND I'M CURRENTLY STATIONED IN GREAT LAKES, IL. I READ THE BOOK "FANAL SALUTE" BECAUSE I HAD NOTHING BETTER TO DO WHILE AT WORK SO I WOULD NOT BE BORED. HOWEVER ONCE I STARTED READING, I COULDN'T SEEM TO SET THE BOOK DOWN. YOUR STORY TOUCHED EVERY BONE IN MY BODY, AND IT IS FOR PEOPLE LIKE YOUR FAMILY THAT I JOINED THE MILITARY. I WOULD LOVE TO TALK TO YOU MORE SO I WILL LEAVE MY E-MAIL ADDRESS, BUT I UNDERSTAND WITH TWO YOUNG BOYS IT ISN'T THE EASIEST THING IN THE WORLD TO TALK ONLINE. CATHRYN_R_PLATO@HOTMAIL.COM, ONCE YOU EMAIL ME, WE CAN EXCHANGE PHONE NUMBERS, I WOULD LOVE TO ONE DAY MEET THE FAMILY THAT CARRIES ON THE NAME OF JESSE GIVENS. THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR THE SUPPORT YOU GIVE THE MARINES, SOLDIERS, SAILORS, AND AIRMEN EVEN AFTER YOUR EXTRODARY LOSS."
CATY PLATO of HOUSTON, TX

"LET ME KISS HIM FOR HIS MOTHER

Unknown



Let me kiss him for his mother,

Let me kiss his dear, youthful brow;

I will love him for his mother,

And seek her blessings now.

Kind friends have soothed his pillow,

Have watched his every care,

Beneath the weeping willow,

O lay him gently there.

Sleep, dearest, sleep;

I loved you as a brother,

Kind friends around you weep;

Iíve kissed you for your mother.

Let me kiss him for his mother

What though left a lone stranger here;

She has loved him as non other;

I feel her blessing near."
J.G. of The Springs

"To Melissa, Dakota, and Carson,

I am a student at the University of Colorado-Boulder. I was recently assigned a book report and I randomly chose to read the book Final Salute and throughout the past three days I have been captivated by your family's story. I must admit, at first I was less than thrilled to have to read a book about the military (being a naive 20 year old who has not been directly affected by war) but I was soon humbled to tears. Your story has changed me as a person. I am completely in awe of your husband's and father's bravery and the courage of all the men and women who serve our country. My grandfather was a Marine and I never really understood the costs of war beyond the facts and figures I had read about in my history classes. I want to thank you for sharing your story. Reading your letters has touched me beyond comprehension. I want you to know that your story is still alive and when I return this book to the Boulder Public Library nearly every page will be stained with tears. You have inspired me with your courage in the midst of unfathomable pain and loss. Even though I have never met you, I feel a special connection to you after seeing pictures and reading about your journey through such a devastating experience. I have already shared your story with many of my friends and family and want you to know that you and toad and bean will be in my prayers.

With love,

Heather Vogel"
Heather Vogel of Boulder, CO

"Hello-I have a bracelet from herobraclets.org with Pfc. Givens name and date of death on it. I've been wearing it faithfully for some time now, but would like to send it to his family. I hope through this message that they will contact me if they would like this bracelet. I can email photos of it if they wish.
Please accept my deepest sympathy, and thank you for your sacrifices Pfc. Givens.
Kris Robinson
CharmedLife61@aol.com"
Kris of DFW, TX

"H31 Delta, "never will you be forgotten" Thought I would say hi to you, Missy and the boys. Think about you all the time and sometimes how it all went down that day. You were a strong man and I only hope I can have your strength when the good lord decides it is my time. Love you buddy!"
H31 GOLF of Newton , KS

"http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HyIbC39Hi0A

I cry every time. Every time.

God bless."
Marcus of Fruitland, Idaho

"Damn, Jess it hurts today. I been packing to go fishing with your brothers at Table Rock,and all I can think about is you. Six years ago you were going to be home to go next year(2004).I pray that this country knows the cost of freedom! Sometimes like today it's just too DAMN much. Son you will be there with us. We'll tell all the stories and laugh and you;ll be with us. I think of you everyday and Gloria and I remember Missy and the boys everyday in prayer."
dad of jeff city mo

"5/1/09 Six years ago "Bobby" I stood on the other side of that wall of flames. Six years ago I popped smoke for "witch doctor" to land and take you away. SFC Tag cried in my arms six years ago today. Six years ago today I cried for you, today I cried for me. Today I poured a beer on your rock at the Ft Carson front gate. Soon I'll be sending something to M and the kids I pulled out of storage, it's time."
Sgt G - Heavy 65Golf

"I sing with the Handel Society of Dartmouth College. We will be performing "Last Letter Home" as written by Lee Hoiby with a men's chorus in two weeks. After four months of rehearsal I can almost make it through the work without tears, but not quite. We've committed the piece to memory and will be singing without music. It will be very difficult in front of an audience. We've had counseling sessions with the choir and a counselor to try to get through the work. I've never sung a more emotional piece in my entire life. I hope you can hear us back there in Colorado, Melissa, Toad and Bean. We are singing for you and for the families of all the fallen soldiers. God Bless."
Charlie of Lebanon, NH

"To the family of:Jesse A. Givens I am so sorry for the loss of your love one. My heart cries out for you in your grief and you have my thoughts and prayers. He died a hero defending freedom. May you have the peace and understanding that only comes from God. Prayerfully we will all meet in Heaven one day where we will rest in the arms of Jesus. If you need prayer or need someone to talk to, please call or write my pastor: Rev. John Pearrell 11677 Brown Bridge Rd., Covington, GA 30016. (770)787-1015. Your friend in Jesus Christ, Polly Ballew Covington,Ga"

"Melissa, Dakota, and Carson
Hi guys! It's me Annie Fiore. I hope you all remember me. Dakota's kindergarten teacher. I think of you all often and always wonder how you are. Please contact me at catfightmma@hotmail.com. I would love to catch up and see how you all are. Love, Annie"
Annie Fiore of Raymond, IL

"3-11-2009
3-11-69 one of the two best days of my life.The 40th birthday is a marker in our lives, you should be here with us to celebrate it. Miss and Love you son."
Mom of Springfield, Mo.

"Jess I just can not get you off my mind these days. I think because your birthday is soon coming. Your Grandma was just talking about us in the waiting room when the nurse came in and told us we had a boy. Your Grand dad was 92 last month and I just turned 65. Its just not right that Dad and I are still here and your not. Your brothers are doing great their are so proud of you. All you boys grew to be good men. Jesse your the one I never worried about. Your the one that was strong and steady. I just miss you so very much. I love you Jess always have and always will. I"ll be with you one day of that you can bet on. Until then know that you are missed.

Dad"
dennis givens of jefferson city mo

"2-17-09
My son has broken his silence. He has lived with this pain inside for a long time. I know he tried to save Jesse. Please contact me.

don.graham.sr@gmail.com
303-523-6571

First Loss

Shortly after entering Iraq, the 2nd Squadron of the 3d ACR was tasked with protecting several important Ammunition Supply Points (ASP) and the Airforce base located in Al Habbaniyah. While on patrol, a M1 Abrams tank crew from H(Heavy) Company had noticed a group of Iraqis attempting to utilize the wind to direct fire toward the ASP. While in pursuit they came to a large ditch which was not easily noticed. As a result, the M1 Abrams ended up planting nose first into the ditch. The driver, PFC Givens, became unconscious at this point. In order to get PFC Givens out of the driver hatch the turret had to be rotated in a way that required the front of the M1 Abrams to be pulled out of the ditch. With the hatch quickly filling up with water, this was not accomplished in time. As a result, on May 1 2003 PFC Givens became the first 3d ACR soldier lost in Operation Iraqi Freedom.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/3d_Armored_Cavalry_Regiment_(United_States)"
Don Graham of Denver CO

"Hi Missy!! I sure do miss you. I was just telling the ladies of your and Jesse's story. I think they have heard it prior! Just wanted to let you know, while telling them about how I met you and your story, it still brings tears to my eyes.. Even after 5 years!! Love ya~"
Millie of always in Colo Springs...

"January 17, 2009
To the family of Pfc. Jesse A. Givens:
Jesse gave the ultimate sacrifice and will be held in the hearts of Americans forever. I cannot and will not let our fallen heroes be forgotten. My deepest sympathy to you. "Some gave all."
Peggy Childers
"Don't Let The Memory Of Them Drift Away"
www.IraqWarHeroes.org"
Peggy Childers of Carson City, NV

"Dear Mrs. Jesse A. Givens,
My prayers are full of love, and the peace that passeth all understanding for the untimely passing of your husband. I found your names & your story in Final Salute. I cannot begin to understand your loss. I thank you not only for the sacrifice that Jesse made to us, but also for the sacrifice that your family has made for our freedoms. Your story has deeply touched me. I rarely pass a soldier on the street that I don't thank him for serving. I am grateful that this website was listed in the book, so that I could extend heartfelt prayers to you & yours. God bless you and again thank you. Numbers 6:24, 25,& 26"
Cynthia W of Kingsbury, Tx USA

"Jesse 12/28/08
I miss you love. It has been hard lately. Missing you like crazy. My heart is heavy with sadness. I wish I could see your beautifull smile. I wish I could feel your arms around me.Your breath on my skin and you letting me know that everything is going to be ok. I still love you like the first time I saw you. and still miss you like the day you were taken from me. The trauma of that day I do not think will ever fade."
Missy of Fountain Co. USA

"Dear Jesse:
As a mother of a daughter who served in the military and came back safely to me, I cannot imagine but grieve for you and your family. After seeing the HBO movie, I have been moved to write to you and your loved ones. It is 2008 and you are STILL touching our lives and spirits - did you know that you do this to us in a good way? I read that you loved to read. Well, I found a quote that you and Melissa might like and it's from a library website in Colorado Springs. Here it is: " . . . the health of our civilization, the depth of our awareness about the underpinnings of our culture, and our concern for the future can all be tested by how well we support our libraries." Carl Sagan - I just KNOW that you knew who he was and that the stars out there were his world, just as you wanted Melissa to watch the stars at night. Melissa, perhaps this is part of Jesse's legacy to you and the kids - that he would want them to go to the library to help them smile as they are entertained by the library staff while they read to them stories and be close to the library, integrating ideas into your everyday life as perhaps Jesse might have done? Stories take us places we've never been, right, Jesse? You loved to read and Melissa's eyes would light up if she saw your sons listen - remembering what their daddy would have done and exploring all things that you would have wanted them to hear and see. Perhaps your mother and father or aunt or uncle took you to the library when you were a little boy - did they? There's lots of time for you, Melissa, to enjoy sitting and watching your little ones enjoy what Jesse might have done if he were here - taking them to the library to hear stories. I can just imagine you, Jesse; the light in your eyes sparkling while someone reads a new treasure to the kids. I can just imagine that you would have guided them down the isles taking this book and that one down for them to enjoy. I know that this is alot for Melissa to pack up your kids and take them during the snowy season to the library but I think that it would be alright, Jesse, as it might be a big hit with the kids and she would not be stepping into your big shoes and taking away a memory of you doing the reading of stories as I know she's been doing but taking a break to have someone else do it while she and you watch their smiling faces with a new "read" might put a positive spin on the memories you left while physically here. Gosh, Jesse, you have touched my life - I love to read and have read to my great nieces and nephews as well as grandchildren and I love the memories of them smiling and the books taking them to new worlds. Jessie and Melissa and family, you will be remembered from now on while I go to the library. And, just to let you know when I do look up at the stars, I will remember that you told Melissa to do the same thing that I've told my familly to do and smile that I know that you are there in those beautiful stars when they shine. Through the snow and fog, you're still with us shining through. Much love to you and your family always."
Kim of Whittier, California

"As I watched this morning on HBO the Letters From Home, I sit there and think about all those who have suffered this loss. PLease do realize that many people keep you in your thoughts and prayers. The organization www.honorandremember.org is determined not to ever forget those who have paid the ultimate sacrifice for this country of ours."
Mike of Norfolk, VA

"Dear Mrs. Jesse A. Givens,
As I watched you painfully read the last letter from your husband on HBO, I cried so hard for you and your boys and our country! I thank you for sharing such a private matter with us all. I pray that God gives you peace and understanding about your husbands untimely passing. Being a veteran myself, I understand the desire of an American soldier to uphold and defend our great nations freedoms and priviledges. Your husband laid his life upon the alter of freedom and his sacrifice will never be forgotten! Thank you for affording us all an opportunity to know a true American Hero! God Bless you and your Boys!"
Bradley S. Litz of Cedar Rapids, Iowa

"Melissa
We never met, but my husband was stationed at Fort Carson and left for his first tour in Iraq on April 4th, 2003. There have been so many times in the last few years that I wanted to write but could never find the right words. Your family will always be remembered for the rest of our lives. My husband was in the 3rd ACR S&T. I remember driving him to the bus, ( I think around 4:00 AM) for his first tour, I thought my heart would stay numb until he returned. But, after two tours, he returned and my heart is still numb. I made an album of all of the newspaper clippings from the springs while he was gone. I looked at it about three days ago and still could not open it. Jesse is on the second page, and after the time that has passed I cannot read the album that was meant to be for memories, but ended up being too much sadness. I think about You, Dakota and Carson everyday. My husband and I have been together now for 18 years, and have always been very close. We have a 21 year old, 19 year old and our baby is 14 years old. But at the time when their dad was gone, they were younger. Some things happened to my husband out there and I don't think he will ever be the person he was before he left. But, I have gathered so much strength from you because of your openness to everybody. I saw you on post the day of Jesse's memorial service and my heart broke. I read the article when Carson was born and I thought of how proud you must have been to be holding a part of Jesse. We have left the Springs and moved back to our home state. I had to stop at a Shopko and it made me think of your family again, (It was shopko, right?) So many things that happened during my husband's two tours have slightly faded, but I will never forget Jesse, You, Dakota and Carson. Some nights I still cry especially when I see my husband and know what he will live with for the rest of his life. I suffer from sympathetic PTSD. I never even heard of it before, until we talked to a counselor at the VA clinic. When you allowed the world to see Jesse's letters, you allowed us to experience some of your pain. I thought of your strength more times than I can count and wondered if I could have done the same for my kids. You are an amazing mother and I'm sure Jesse smiles everyday when he sees the incredible job you have been doing with those two boys. I'm honestly hoping that after I have finally said what I wanted to say to you all these years that I can go and finally pick up that album and read it. There is a lot of healing and soul searching that my husband and I are still trying to deal with, but I am hoping that by letting you know how much your family means to us, that I have started the process. You, Jesse, Carson and Dakota will always be in our thoughts. Thanks for taking the time to read this, but there is so much more that I have wanted to say to you. They say time sometimes helps ease the pain, and I've pondered on that saying for the last five years. I hope things have gotten better for the three of you. I have read your letters to Jesse as well, (on this site) and although I will never know your exact pain, I do know some of it.

Julie
JGreene08@new.rr.com"
Proud wife of a Third Cavalry Soldier- of WI

"Dear Melissa,

My heart goes out to you and Dakota and Carson. I just finished reading Final Salute by Jim Sheeler. I'm a 56 year old father of two boys and your story made me cry several times. I hope that by the grace of God you and your boys find the peace you are searching for. I won't forget Jesse."
Jim Bost of Jacksonville, FL

"Melissa, Dakota, and Carson,
I just read your father/husband's letter. My older brother is in the military as well, I can't imagine him not coming home. I also can't imagine the pain you feel but please know that your Jesse's story is not lost. He is never forgotten. He did make the ultimate sacrifice for his country but it wasn't death, it was seperation from the most important part of his life, all of you. Melissa, I know there are millions of people who offer their support to you but you will find my email below and I would be overjoyed to simply listen.
Blessings upon each of you.
Tim"
Tkb0830@aol.com of Des Moines, IA

"Jesse.... we never met but I am a momnlaw who lost a young soldier who i thought of as my own son. He to has a small child also. We know you are watching from above but sure wish you were here.. To the family and friends all I can say is we have to stand with each other hold our heads high because our situation is unique and sad. Please if you have not looked into the snowballexpress.org for the children and your self they go over the top for the kids and it gives us a chance to all be with one another in fun for a change... ... you will find a wonderful family there who wants to hold you and be there for you. As our pain is 1."
Tanya Bush of momwithwings1963@yahoo.com

"Melissa,
I really don't know where to start. You and you're family have been on my mind since the first time I heard your story. I just pray that God will continue to give you peace and comfort. I know that after 5 years, there are probably times when it just seems like yesterday. Hopefully, one day, with time, it will get easier for you. Take care of those blessed little angels you have and know that you are in the thoughts and prayers of many."
Amanda of Fort Hood, TX

"I've been sitting here struggling for the last few hours wondering what to say. I just found out today that a friend I've known for over 28 years is dead and gone, and we lived and served in the same unit together.

It's strange how life can take you away, further from what you used to know as a child. I remember so many things during those years with Connie, Reg and Jesse. I remember keeping Reg and Jesse from hitting each other with a baseball bat (and other numerous fights). I remember playing football in the front yard that kind of sloped towards the street. Man we used to hit each other hard. I remember Jesse being the younger brother we used to pick on and torture mercilessly (but Reg would kick my * in a heartbeat if I messed with his brother). I remember seeing him years later after falling out of touch, he was into body building then, and Reg and I looked so small compared to him. I remember being such a pain to his mom, and her being a great mom to all of us!!! Remember when we watched that scary movie (what was it "The Boogeyman" or "Halloween"??? and your mom jumped out with a butcher knife and a scary white gown). I remember that damn bird he loved so much that seemed to live forever. Hey Reg, do you remember how we used to make him work for any little bit of time to spend with us?

Dammit!!! He served in the same *ing unit I served in. I was stationed with 2/3 ACR Eagle Troop from 2000 until 2003. I just missed him and didn't have any clue that a man I had grown up with chose the same path I had chosen, the one of a soldier. It's a hard path and I salute him with every inch of my being. I can't write anymore except to say that I love and miss Connie, Reg and Jesse. I miss those hard football games. I miss you Jesse, and I didn't even realize it till today.

I love you and always have"
Eric L Graves of Colorado Springs, Colorado

"This is to Jesse and his family. Jesse, you will never be forgotten and always loved. We will keep your family continuously in our prayers for God to comfort them plus bless them in every way. We love you Jesse and We love your family. Love Uncle Andy & Aunt Pam We are also very proud of you."
Andy and Pam Payne of Bartlesville, Ok/United States of America

"I sat in my teacher/friend/Army-wife's chair today and read "Final Salute" while she worked on her year-end papers/grades. I cried and cried, and kept remembering the day I heard the terrible news about your husband's death. I don't have the words to express my sorrow for you and your boys, nor the words to express my thanks for our continued freedom and your husband's ultimate sacrifice for us here at home. I will continue to keep you and Dakota and Carson in my thoughts and prayers, today and in the months ahead. I hope to meet you one day."
Cynthia Robinson cindyr_2@juno.com of Colorado Springs, CO

"Melissa,
My name is Kiley Taylor I am a student of Aurora highschool in Bloomington Indiana. We watched the video Last Letters Home today and your story really stood out to me. We are now doing a project on the movie and i chose the Givens family. You have beatiful children please keep your head held high and stay strong for those boys! Everything will work out for the best!"
Kiley of Bloomington Indiana

"I was in 3d ACR during OIF I and III. Once again I am training to back to Iraq for a third time with 2/4 ID. There is not a day that goes by that I don't think about all the Soldiers we lost. I have dates stuck in my mind of the guys we didn't get to bring home with us. I cry for each and everyone of them. Stay strong.
Brave Rifles!"
SGT Graham of Ft Carson, CO

"At the rising of the sun and at its going down, We remember them.
At the blowing of the wind and in the chill of Winter, We remember them.
At the opening of buds and in the rebirth of Spring, We remember them.
At the blueness of the skies and in the warmth of Summer, We remember them.
At the rustling of leaves and the beauty of Autumn, We remember them.
At the beginning of the year and when it ends, We remember them.
As long as we live, they too will live;
for they are now a part of us, as we remember them.


5 YEARS...I can't believe that it has been 5 years. Jess we do remember you. I got to see Melissa and the boys a few weeks ago. You would be tremendously proud of them. Carson is great! He has you wonderfully woven all through him. And, he is so proud of you! Dakota is such a wonderful young man, to watch him with Carson is a beautiful thing. He takes such good care of him, he trully does. I was so very proud of him. And, I don't know how Melissa does it...she is a woman of great bravery and strength, I can see why you love her so much. She takes each day with and amount of strength and courage that I just cannot comprehend. We love and miss you more than we could ever express."
Cheryl Givens of Jefferson City

"Jesse...Its been 5 years. I never knew you but your wife and your boys are like my family now! I am so Thankful to have them in my life. I think about you almost as much as I think about Micheal. You are part of my life now too! Missy has helped me out in so many ways. And I try to help her...although she seems to help me more and sometimes I don't always know the right thing to say...but she still loves me! I am also Thankful that Shea has Carson. I do hope they become close as they get older. They didn't get meet to their daddy's but there is one thing I know for sure...just like Missy said, they are the best parts of their parents and they were given to us for a reason! Kids keep you going in your darkest hours! Missy will always miss you...she will always love you. She is so proud of you!
Your mom has become like my mother in law...she is so awesome. I don't talk to her on a regular basis but I think about her and your family a lot.
Well I hope your up there with Micheal keeping each other company! Give him a hug for me!"
Christine Dooley of Murrysville, Pa

"Jesse, May 1st 2008
Here I am again wow 5 years, this crap sure don't get any better. I have been meaning to get on here for a while and just have not been able to do it. I miss you so much, I still love you with all my heart. Life has changed in so many ways since you left me. I feel crazy at times.
One thing never changed you still have my heart. These stupid milestones. I knew you in life for four years, you have been gone for five how did that happen? How did the length of your death pass our life together.Our baby will be five at the end of this month oh my god, why did this happen. Why did you leave us alone? My heart has been so heavy today. I guess it has actually been this way for months. I thought I was better, how am I not. I literly hurt. How is that possible. I feel this horrible pain in my body. I wish with every part of my self that you could be here. I still need you. Your kids still need you. Dakota is missing you so bad. Carson talks about you all the time. He puts you in all his stories. It always goes something like when I was a little baby me and my dad did this. Oh damn Jess it breaks my heart. He wants to know you so bad and he didn't get the chance. He is the best thing you ever did and you didn't even get to see it. He is the very best of you and I . I am so glad I have him. My last gift from you. I tell him he is the best thing you ever gave me. I am so thankful. It was as if god knew that if he took you he had better give me something to get me through. They do Jesse they are great boys. You would be so proud of them. They have been through so much. Dakota is so much older then ten. He still has a big heart but a child should not have to do this. He misses you so much. He hurts and I cant fix it. No one can fix it. The two of us put on our "were OK faces" and press on but I don't think we are OK. I don't know if we will ever be OK. I want to take their pain away. I don't want this for my children. I want to protect them. I want to give them their daddy back. I want them to have what other kids have. I don't want them to hurt. They are my babies this is just not fair.
When we were at Your brothers not long ago, I felt so out of place. not that they treat me like that they are all great but I am so alone through all of this. There is Reg and Rhonda, Cory and Carrie, Scooter and Cheryl, Joel and Keri and then there is me. Alone. just me without you. I don't want to be strong any more I just want to cry. I just want to miss you. I don't want to have to pretend that I am OK. I AM NOT OK. I hurt like hell. Five years hurts. Like day one hurts. That horrible day five years ago when my life ended. I am so not the person I once was, how could I be.My soul mate the love of my life was taken from me. I feel like my soul was ripped from my body that day. I have never felt so beat down by life. I want to scream, scream my anger away. My anger for god taking you away from me.Taking you away from us. I know there are some people that think I should be over all this by now. I promise you I will never be over you. I will never be OK without you. No matter what is going on in my life it will never be OK that you are not here. I love you my hero always have always will.
Love Me"
Missy Givens of Fountain Co USA

"Jesse, It seems just like yesterday when we were in Basic getting yelled at by Sereant Estrada. I miss you man and you early morning jokes. I will see you again one day.
For the Family, I am very sorry for your loss and wish the best for all of you. You lost a outstanding husband, father and friend."
Christopher Norton of Ft. Stewart GA

"Melissa,
I'm very proud of Jesse. He gave his life for a valuable cause and is the finest example a great American. My heart breaks for you and your beautiful family. The sacrifice you've made as the spouse of a servicemember also benefits all Americans. God bless you and your beautiful children."
Marine Cpl. Mike Moon of Atlanta, GA

"Hey Melissa,

How are you? How is Bean and Dakota doing? Man i bet their really big now, since those pictures were taken 5 years ago. You're probably wondering who the heck i am, huh? Haha..i dont blame you.

Well for starters My name is Perla, im 19 years old and i came across the video, that connected me to this site. Its funny how many things you just dont take seriously over the internet, but this stood out for some reason...i was drawn to it...and im baffled by that.

I read the letter, and im sure everyone who has visited this site has as well. He couldnt put it any better. Life is one of a kind, we might as well make the best of it. I know youre probably wondering why a teenager like me who would be out partying or doing something else on Friday nights is even showing interest to this...Dont get me wrong, im a caring person and im really sorry for what happen. I know that you rather combine all the sorries youve gotten so you could trade them and to bring him back. But honestly...truely...i know how you feel. You probably get that alot, and it can get redundant...but i do. We all pull through though, and im sure you know that and you have for a while. It takes alot for someone to watch the love of their life walk away from them and having this thought in the back of your mind of WHAT IF you never see them again, but you have to force yourself to smile and hope for the best and still keep their life together and wake up every morning and keep moving forward.

I'm probably the most random person youll meet...its a sad reality though...how some people become the center of attention over night over losing a loved one.....Why cant it be a whole lot easier and become famous because you invented a mascara that REALLY doesnt clump haha......but one day...theyll solve that oh so "horrible dilema"...

I respect you, and i am truely inspired by you. Alot of things have changed the way i look at life, and made me realize that its not healthy to always worry about wether or not ill wake up the next day and that i should just take each day as it comes, and make the best of it...no matter how bad it might be going.

I am sorry if i wasted your time in any way. I know my message isnt like the others,and you probably think ive had too much soda tonight and randomly decided to throw some words together on a random website...but i havent...and i didnt...and maybe it was MENT for me to come across this...to let you know that youve inspired me, youve given me hope and so has your husband...After going through some crappy times...i realized why god needs so many angel up in heaven...because theres already so many here on earth watching us and standing by our side, that he needs more watching OVER us, and secretly giving us a helping hand and love.

So, take care Melissa your life will be blessed even more! and your kids will grow up to be incredable, smart, caring people. Im sure their amazing now...theyre going to be brilliant once their grow up.

With love and care,

Perla Noriega.

=D Keep doing what your doing, youre doing great!

Well if want to message me back feel free to at perlanoriega8@hotmail.com. Dont worry i wont be offended if you dont, im happy if i was able to bring ANY kind of confort or ...SOMETHING to you and your kids."
Perla Noriega of Bradenton FL

"As an ex-soldier of the Royal Dutch Army, and having served as a United Nations Peace Keeper in Bosnia, I would like to express my sympathy to the families and friends of all American and allied soldiers, not to forget the Iraqi troops, who fight for the freedom of other human beings and who, in doing so, risk loosing their lives. We have to do all we can to ease the suffering of innocent people, no matter where on earth this happens. Paying with your life is the highest price ever, and my thoughts are with the families and friends of all these brave women and men killed in the battle for a better world."
Martijn C.C.A. van Rooij of Ňseral, southern Norway

"To the family of Jesse Givens,
I pray that as the years go by, you remember the good things. There is no way we can bring him back. But we can be eternally thankful for the sacrifice of those who care enough for others to be willing to fight for their voice in this world.
We know the pain that is in your life. You cannot make it go away. It becomes part of who you are. You learn to cope and move on.

Proud family of USMC Cpl. Gabriel and Army Natl. Guard Sgt. Daniel"
Rodger and Denise of Kansas City, MO/USA

"Dear Melissa, Dakota and Carson:

My family thinks about you often. Please let us know if there's anything we can do to help."
Andrew Garland of Kingston, MA

"Today, 3-19-2008, I somehow found myself on a site that spoke of your story. I am the wife of a us soldier who is currently serving his third tour in Iraq. This is the epitome of our worst fear as military spouses. I cried for you today. My heart hurts deeply for you and your family. I know it could never compare to what you are feeling.... But I just felt I needed to let you know that Jesse will never be forgotten. Our Heros are our HEROS FOREVER! I hope that knowing people still think about him and your family brings a little solice to your pain. God Bless you ALL!!"
Jessica of Fort Stewart Georgia

"I ended up here just like the person 2 below me, youtube and then the article. I was so touched by this. I will keep you and your kids in my prayers. I myself have 2 small children and can't begin to imagine. I don't really think there is anything else I can say."
Ashley C. of Mt. Pleasant, TX/USA

"Why do people do this to each other? So sorry for you who are left behind..."
Karin of Sweden

"Hello Melissa. Damn. I don't know what to say. Just by reading this article about the tragedy:

http://www.thefinalrollcall.us/stories/bye-bye.htm

I feel like someone in my house has passed away.

I found this site from Google, and I looked because of a recently featured Youtube video.

http://youtube.com/watch?v=5wqnPjkqu20

That's the video, but I am sure you already knew.

Damn! Damn is the only word that comes to mind. The internet simply isn't ideal for expressing how I feel.

With every fiber of my being, I am deeply sorry, and I would like to help in any way I can.

My email address is cas.gmr@gmail.com. Please email me if you want to. It's a bit more personal than this site.

Again, I am sorry."
Casey F. of NY, USA

"Eternal rest grant unto him, O Lord, let perpetual light shine upon him, and may he rest in peace.

God bless and protect Jesse Givens and his beautiful family, forever! I read his last letter, and am amazed by the strength of his love. It's so huge and powerful, and he gives it so generously, that death and time cannot stop it."
Meg of Indianapolis, IN

"Hi, melissa, how are you doing i stumbled on this website from the video on youtube, how are ur boys doin. I remember how great ur husband was and i wish i took him up on the invite over to your guys house to have supper, this world is a lesser place that jesse is gone, id love to hear from you sometime, shoot me an email at bigbullsintx@yahoo.com, take care, my thoughts are with you"
mike davis of fort worth, texas

"I have only just found this site, through reading Jesse's last letter and can't say how humbled I feel. I too am a father, far from perfect; but loving, and Jesse's letter expressed so many of my own feelings. My kids are 12 and 14 and I too worry about leaving them alone, although I do not have the same danger to deal with. We all owe such a debt of gratitude to people like Jesse, who gave so much. I pray that Melissa, Dakota and Carson find peace and happiness."
Alex James of Scotland

"God Bless You Melissa, and your two sweet little boys. God has given you an angel and that angel will watch over your family."
Melanie of Methuen, Massachusetts

"HAPPY 39TH BIRTHDAY SWEETHEART. LOVE AND MISS YOU"
MOM of SPRINGFIELD, MO.

"Jess you have been on my mind a lot lately. I miss you,love you and am blessed to be your dad."
DAD of jeffreson city mo

"January 12, 2008
To the family of Pfc. Jesse A. Givens:
Jesse gave the ultimate sacrifice and will be held in the hearts of Americans forever. I cannot and will not let our fallen heroes be forgotten. My deepest sympathy to you. "Some gave all."
Peggy Childers
"Don't Let The Memory Of Them Drift Away"
www.IraqWarHeroes.org"
Peggy Childers of Carson City, NV

"God Bless You All"
SPC Iverson US Army of Fort Leonard Wood, MO

"Dear Family of Jesse Givens:

To honor the Missouri soldiers who have lost their lives in Iraq and Afghanistan and their families, the professional portrait artists of the "Grateful hearts project" are offering to paint a portrait of the individual soldier for his family.

These 16"x20" original portraits are being offered completely free of charge in recognition of the sacrificies made by these brave soldiers and in condolence for their families loss.

For more information, please email us at gratefulheartsproj@sbcglobal.net

Sincerely;
The Artists of Grateful Hearts"
J.Gragg of Lee's summit,Mo.

"December 30, 2007

Melissa,

This morning I watched the Sunday Morning News on CBS. I love this program because it fills me up and warms my heart in so many ways. When I saw Jesse's picture come up, I had to do a double take. Could this man be the boy I once knew? I don't know how I missed this story until now. It seems life sweeps you in different directions and you don't have time to stop and take it all in. I cannot believe he is gone. Jesse and I dated for almost 3 years while we were in High School. I met him at a Rick Springfield concert in the Summer of '85. He was there with his brother Reg. He was going to be a Junior at Glendale High School and I was going to be a Senior at Kickapoo High School. His big brown eyes and tender sweet voice swept me off my feet. He was my first true love and for those few years that we were together, I knew no greater happiness. I know exactly how you felt when you first met him. WOW! He was a great young man, and I can tell through your letters and the letters of others that he grew into a great and admirable grown man.

You are a very very lucky woman. You have loved a wonderful man who had a passion for life and true love for his country. It was wonderful to see your two beautiful sons today on the show. I know they will have his love of life, his amazing ability to draw, his love of music, poetry, and all things that are beautiful. God Bless you Melissa and your family. Jesse Alan Givens has left his mark in this world by serving his country, by being a loving son and brother, by being a great father, and a wonderful and loving husband.

Thank you for allowing me to share my memory of your husband with you. I pray for peace. I pray for you and your family. May the memories of Jesse fill your heart with laughter and love. He would want you to be happy.

Remember to look at the stars. I can see his twinkling eyes looking down on you.
Warmest regards,"
Cheryl (Leviner) Raymond of Charlestown RI United States

"Melissa,

I wrote a song I would like to play on YouTube soon. The song is called "Don't Forget to Smile." It is a song which uses many of the words from your late husband's letter. I will try and post this song soon. I am asking for your permission to post the song. I was first made aware of your husband Jesse's letter while doing an assignment for an online class which linked to his letter. I have been touched by it ever since. My condolances to you and your children. He was a brave man who gave his life to defend ours.

With Love,

Frank"
Frank of Toms River, NJ

"To the Givens friends and family, I am a Marine and i just wanted to let you all know that you are in my prayers and everyone elses prayers here in BUFFALO, NY I was deeply touched by Jessy's story on HBO it has deff. teached me to live eachday greatfull for what u have. GOD BLESS GIVENS FAMILY AND FRIENDS. and may no one else feel the pain you have felt, lord end this war!"
Jeremy Lepsch of Tonanawanda NY USA

"You have been baptised in fire and blood and come out steel. R.I.P Jesse you will never be forgoten."
Josh fellow service member of IN USA

"jesse,
I never really got the chance to get to know like I should have. Although, I think of you more than you could imagine. I'll never forget the day we met, I am sure it was really awkward for Missy to tell you who I was. I must say you are more than any "fallen hero", you are THE Fallen Hero, for all of us. You are everything I could ever have asked for in a brother-in-law. You took my sister from ground level and showed her "cloud 9". You would be very proud of her and the boys, I got to see them last week and WOW. I was so impressed. You are always in our prayers and thoughts. I need to stop now before I ...."
Shannon Forkner (brother-in-law) of Bolivar, Missouri

"For the family of Jesse Givens, I am writing this with tears in my eyes and feeling the pain of your loss. I know the hurt I am feeling will never compare to the pain of your loss. I can only offer my heartfelt gratitude and thanks for Jesse's service. I pray that you will take some comfort in knowing that someone out there you will never know, also grieves for your loss. I have a son-in-law and a nephew currently serving. I feel helpless in not being able to do more to show my gratitude for the ultimate sacrfice our soldiers have had to make, and my writing this to you today is my way of reaching out to someone just to say Thank You - your loved one did not die in vain and someone out there truly cares for your loss. Blessings to you and to your family - and the ultimate Thank You to Jesse!!"
Mari of Overland Park, KS

"Hey baby just wanted to let you know I love you and miss you like crazy...
Love Missy"
Missy Givens of Fountain Co. USA

"Jesse,
I also saw the HBO documentary and it tore me up when your wife read your letter. I would just like to say thank you for your service and sacrifice for our Country. And to your family and loved ones-especially your wife and sons, I wish to extend my deepest sympathy.

"Brave Rifles"(3rd ACR Motto)"

"My prayers are with you. I too was at Carson 2/3 ACR Fox Troop 4th plt I was a Tanker as well my name is Roger Holloway I got out in 98 Sure fells like I knew him as we worked in the same area. If you ever want to talk just email me HollowayPi@aol.com Jesse is in a better place now and you will see him again. Brave Rifles"
Roger Holloway of Wichita Falls, Texas

"It seems that every time I have turned on the program 'Last Letters' it is your story that I see. It always brings me to tears, though I know it is impossible to fully feel your pain.
Please know that your courage in sharing you intimate feelings and your husband's last letter has put his face and the faces of your family in our hearts. These are the faces that we remember each Memorial Day and so many other days in between.
I am grateful as well to your mother-in-law for the man she raised. I am grateful for his willing heart to protect our freedom and am raising my children to have that same patriotic heart.
There really aren't words for me to tell you how your story has moved my heart, hopefully this message will convey some of those feelings. I can see from so many other posts to you and your family that I am not the only one you have touched so deeply.
How blessed you are to have such beautiful boys and to have such a love for your husband. Though the pain may not lessen, the love you share transcends all barriers.
With prayers full of blessings,"
Kim Cwiok of Sacramento, CA

"Hello..I came home for lunch today and just happened to see the HBO special "Lost Letters". The story about Jessie was the one I saw. Wow..what can I say. I have been dealing with the loss of my sister due to pancreatic cancer and a friend of mine lost her husband three years ago to a heart attack. We have been trying to console each other. She more me than me her. I hoped Jessie's letter might be some comfort to her because her husband left for work one day and did not come home. He had a heart attack at age 41. I think she was ok with the fact that they did not have the opportunity to say goodbye..but I thought Jessie's letter to his family might reveal something to my friend in what her husband might have said.

My heart to your heart.

Jerry Price
Lynchburg, VA
runtrail@comcast.net"
Jerry Price of Lynchburg, VA

"Jesse,
Four years ago today you were taken from this earth. I never met you, but I know and love your family! I can only hope that they have strength today and everyday knowing you died loving and protecting them. Its been four years but I know they miss you just as much as the day you died. But they are also very, very proud of you! Have fun up in heaven, play some poker and drink some beer with Micheal!

Missy, Dakota, Carson, Connie and the rest of my extended family :)
I hope you guys are doing well today. I know its a struggle. I just wanted to let you know I was thinking of you all during this difficult anniversary!
We love you all very much!"
Christine and Shea Dooley of Murrysville, Pa

"Thanks so much for the people outside our family that still take the time to write on this site for Jesse.
Thank you for takeing the time to show our family that after almost 4 years Jesse has not been forgotten about.
It means so much to us when we log on here and see that he is still touching people. Your words are very comforting to us in our crazy lives.
After almost four years the pain at times is still unbareable. Time does not heal all wounds.
Keeping his memory alive is one of the most important things I will do in my life, Not only for my children and myself, but for everyone whom sometimes forgets what our freedom cost.
So again thank you to all that help me with this buy taking the time to write your thoughts and feelings on this site. Your words do ring out to us. We do read and reread every post. All of you have made a difference to us."
Melissa Givens of Fountain Co. USA

"Our most sincere thanks and appreciation for the service and sacrifices that Jesse gave for our Country and defending it's freedoms from those that would see us defeated and humiliated before the world.

We can never truely repay the debt we owe Jesse and his famliy and we pray that in your memories of him, you can find some level of joy and the peace of knowing he is with GOD. All we can say is "Thank You"! GOD Speed and Rest In Peace brave warrior."
B.J. Ondo, Member of the Patriot Guard Riders, Prior Military Service of Security, CO.-USA

"01 MAY 07

Dear Melissa, family, and friends of Pfc Givens,
I want to first admit that, until recently, I didn't know anything about your loss. It was when I read the 2 APRIL 07 issue of Newsweek, that I learned of your husband's heroism, and of yours for that matter. Since then, I find myself wanting to know more and more, which is how I happened upon this memorial.
I wanted you to know that before I even read a word of the article about your husband, the picture of him and Dakota caught my attention, and I can hardly put the magizine down. The old saying, "A picture is worth a thousand words," rings true and if one can't tell the love this man had for his child just by this one photograph, I would say he is blind.
I also wanted you to know that your husband's legacy does live on, I have read his words through his last letter, along with the thoughts you have shared here, over and over. It has prompted me to become a better husband,father,brother, and son.(the Lord works in mysterious ways)
If ever you're looking for, and needing, that strength, courage, pride, loyalty, etc.., I'd say look in the mirror, because it seems to me that you already have become what your husband knew all along.
Lastly, I now have a wife and two little boys of my own, and if I can show them half the love that your husband had for his "little family," I feel I have become a better man. Thank you soo much for sharing his words and your thoughts, Melissa, I feel it has already changed my life.

Tori C. Panhorst USAF veteran
New Haven, MO"
Tori C. Panhorst of New Haven, MO

"Jesse baby anyone that says time heal all is wrong, I miss you more today than you can imagine. Happy Birthday, I love you."
Mom of Springfield, Mo.

"Dear Mrs. Givens,

My name is Dylan Gwinn. I too saw the HBO special when you read your husband's letters. I don't get emotional very easily. But, I did when you read those letters. I'm also starting a new website www.themightygwinn.com. Where I'm going to have a page dedicated to the heroes of this war. Since, nobody else, or at least no mainstream news agencies are doing it. I'm going to open the website on Monday November 6, 2006. And I'd like to dedicate the page as the "Jesse A. Givens Memorial Heroes Page." Please visit the website when you can. And please feel free to contact me anytime.(www.themightygwinn309@hotmail.com)

God Bless You and Your Family.

Dylan Gwinn"
Dylan Gwinn of Houston, Texas

"Dear Melissa,
I watched the HBO special "Last letters home" I was moved by the last letter written by a great american hero,father and husband Jesse Givens, I pray that you will hold his memory dear, and that you will tell his sons of how great a man he was, and that he did not die in vain. I pray God will comfort you in the days,weeks, months and years to come and that you will remember as evident in his last letter that he loved all of you deeply and dearly. God Bless all of you"
Mark A. Drennen Sr. of Louisville, Ky.

"Love and Miss you always."
MOM of Springfield,Mo.

"Dear Melissa,
Back in 2004, My wife and I watched the HBO special and above all I cried the hardest when i saw your story come up. I havent done that in years. My wife thought i was going crazy, but it was so touching. I watch the news everyday and hear of people passing away, but when i see a soldier pass away, it brings tears to my eyes, prabably cause i am a soldier myself. Seeing your story, made me relate to mine, my wife was pregnant with our son when i left for iraq in jan 2005 w/ 3ID. I lost soldiers over there too, and the hardest part is being able to look the family in the eyes and not denying myself the guilt for them loosing their loved one, i cant do it. Your a very good person for the sacrifice you have had to endure, i will pray for you and your family."
Sgt. Phillip Patch/3ID/ 6-8 Cav of Ft. Stewart, GA, USA

"Melissa,

I have seen the HBO special so many times and each time I am touched by your story. There is not one time that I will watch the special and not cry. I have not lost a loved one to war but I can see how you feel. I pray for you and your boys. Just remember that you have "AN ANGEL" watching over you all the time."
J.M. of Miami, Fl.

"Army Pfc. Jesse A. Givens was a REAL MAN and died a hero. I read his story on-line and having grown up in SW Missouri and attended Missouri State U., I just wanted to pay my respects to this soldier and offer my deepest condolences to his family."
Brian Bowman of Apex, NC USA

"Especially for Jesse Givens and his family- brother, and wife melissa, i am a 35 year old guy, firefighter and when i watched the special on HBO featuring your families' story i was immediately compelled to write this note because your story moved me tremendously. i sat and watched the whole HBO program, but the segment that moved me the most was that of your families' story. after, i went online to look up jesse's name and ended up at this website. please accept my most heartfelt thanks for you all making the ultimate sacrifice on our countries' behalf. i was employed with the fire department here in south florida on sept. 11th so i know the rage you felt as well as your desire to fight the good fight. to your family- melissa, dakota and carson... may God be with you all, and may jesse continue to take care of and comfort you all. i know this message is years later now, but i hope that it makes any kind of difference, you all reading it, because your story, jesse's story and i think jesse's last letter to you all made a huge impact on me. i could relate to so many of the things that he expressed... in some strange way. well... take care and may God bless you all. thank you jesse and thank you melissa for having the strength to share your story. i salute you all."
Alex Ackerman of Miami, Florida

"Jesse,
I miss you so much and I can't tell you how proud and honored I am to be your brother.
I'm also honored to say that your name will go on in the Givens family, Carrie and I gave birth to our daughter [Jessie Lynn Givens] on Oct. 9th. She is perfect. I'm thankful that Dad and Reg gave me their blessing. Thanks for always being there for me and I know that one day we'll be togther again.Love you."
Corry Givens of Joplin Mo

"Melissa,

I often think of you and wonder how you are doing... how your boys are.

You surely don't remember me... I was at Ft Knox the night/morning your husband and my son left for Iraq.

Jesse had befriended my son, SPC Darrell Smith. Darrell's life has forever been changed by Jesse... both in life and in his passing. A thread of Jesse's life has forever been woven into the fabric of our lives. We proudly wear his memorial bracelet.

As with so many other people, I pray God continues to watch over you and your boys. I pray that somehow time eases the sorrow."
Bonita Robertson of Brownstown, Indiana

"Jesse, It's been three years since your death. I will never forget the day. I hope you know we tried our hardest to put out the fire and pull your tank out at the same time. I didn't get to know you as well as I wanted. I hope your children will grow up knowing what a great soldier you were. I know you are watching out for all your buddies down here. Rest in Peace."
Damon Krause of Reno, NV

"Dear Melissa,
Your dear husband died the day my daughter was born. That such sadness and such joy can happen all in the same moment breaks my heart. I am so truly sorry for your and your boys' tremendous loss of such a devoted and loving husband and father. May God forever hold you in the palm of his hand and may your sweet memories ease your sorrow. You are each in my prayers. My kindest and most grateful regards."
Barbara of Texas

"Jesse, I hate that I cannot call and say happy birthday today. But, I want you to know that we have not forgot. We never will."
Aunt Susie of Illinois

"Melissa,Dakota,Carson,
Like so many other people, I was touched by Jesse's letter to his family. Although I never lost anyone close to me to war, I did lose my father as a child. Melissa, I feel for you. I admire your courage and heart. As I was getting ready to have my first child, some issues came to my family which took me away from my home. I guess what I am trying to tell you, Melissa, is that I understand how much Jesse loved his unborn baby. I hated being away from home because I wanted to be close to her and my unborn son. Like you, I am sure the love Jesse had resonated from his heart out to the world with force to make a man shiver. I feel it every day. I felt it then. I felt it in Jesse's letter home. Jesse was a brave man who's life was cut short. He will never be forgotten because he touched so many lives. Thanks Jesse for writing the letter. Forever your wife and boys will be able to read the letter and know how much you loved them. You wrote a letter I couldn't write. You wrote a letter a lot of dad's couldn't find the words to write. It's something no parent wants to face, but if I died I would want my son to know how much I loved him.. like Carson and Dakota will always know. Please email me when you have time. I would love to talk about growing up as a boy with no father. I think I could help. broadbandsteve@yahoo.com
God bless Melissa... stay strong. Dakota and Carson.. Remember to always be there for each other. There's a special bond between brothers. Your Dad would be proud of you."
Steve Cook of Hampton,NH

"Jesse's story has touched my life. His final letter was used in an original play entitled "Gone the Rainbow, Return the Dove." This play debuted at Creighton Preparatory High School from February 23rd to the 26th. The play consisted of war letters written during wartimes, from the Revolutionary War to the Iraqi War. Jesse's letter was the final letter of the play. I was fortunate enough to be able to portray him. I am extremely touched by his letter, as it has truly changed my opinion of war. I have not personally lost anyone to the war effort, but through this play, I feel close enough to Jesse to grieve his passing. He was truly a courageous man. I pray everyday for Melissa and the children. I admire you for your strength throughout this ordeal. God Bless you and Jesse."
Zach Elbert of Omaha, Nebraska, USA

"I saw last letters and I was so touched by the one your husband left you and his children. I feel so much pain for each and everyone of our lost soldiers. I can't imagine the great losses the moms, dads, wifes, husbands, sister, brother, son, daughters and all the other close relatives and friends must be going through. Our family lost Michael Goins in Aug 04 he was 23 and serving in the army. I still think of him often and can't believe the void his death has left behind.
I just felt the need to let you know I was touched and felt your hearache and pain for you and your family. I will always remember the letter and think of your family in my prayers."
Rebecca Smith of Lees Summit MO 64081

"I Just read Jesse's final letter to my son whose name also is Jesse Givens. I named him after my grandfather and my Jesse is almost 7 years old.

I served in the Marine Corps and I wanted to show my Jesse how hard it is and what a miraculous sacrifice people make for their country and loved ones.

My Jesse says: Dakota, I hope we can get together sometime and I'm really sorry that your father died in the war. My dad was a Marine. Let the Lord inspire you with love. Here is a prayer that I learned:

Our Father who art in Heaven
Hollowed be your name
Thy Kingdom Come,
Thy Will be done,
on earth as it is in Heaven,
Give us this day our daily bread,
and forgive our debts as we forgive our debtors,
lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil,
for thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever,
Amen-

God Bless You Dakota"
Ron & Jesse Givens of Sacramento, CA

"Jesse Alan- This is the third Christmas and I see you everywhere. This Christmas is really hard. I guess your Grand Dad was right,time doesn't help,the pain is still there. I need you to know that Missy is a Givens she is a great Mom and loves you so very much. Your boys are wonderful. Dakota is growing and doing great you wouldn't belive how big he is,I love to talk to him on the phone. Carson is you made over.He broke my heart when they were home,sending his ballon to Daddy in Heaven. Jesse the family is going to be here tomorrow and all I can think about is you son. I just can't get around it. You are missed there's this hole in me that can't be filled. I just can't stand it. What am I going to do Son? Jess know that you are LOVED.
DAD"
DENNIS GIVENS of JEFFERSON CITY MO

"I was watching the Oprah Show today when I heard you read the letter that Jesse sent home, I really thought that I was not going to be able to stop crying. I know I do not know you nor did I know Jesse but my heart breaks for the whole family and the boys. I felt myself realizing how we forget that anytime or day could be our last. I could not imagine having to go through what you went through. My husband served in the Army for 4 years but was out in 2000. I THANK JESSE SO MUCH FOR HIS ULTIMATE SACRIFICE. Even though I do not know him I know he was a wonderful man. May God be with you all."
Ashley of Morgantown KY, USA

"Saw the segment of Jesse on Montell Williams Show. So truly sorry for you losing your soulmate. He is a hero, and I'm sure he is looking down on you and your family every minute of the day. My condolences to you"
Elaine Folk of British Columbia, Canada

"When the death toll of our lost soldiers reached 2000 this week I thought of Jesse Givens. I first heard of this remarkable man and his family on the HBO special "Last Letters Home".
I remember crying listening to his beautiful words and seeing the deep loss his family had suffered.
I hope and pray Melissa, Bean and Toad are doing well. I can only imagine how difficult it must be to face the void this magnificent man left behind."
Kate Harper of Encinitas CA USA

"thank you jesse for your service and for your LAST FULL MEASURE OF DEVOTION'
freedom is never free,i work with your father everyday in my heart i thank him for raising a son like you,you will never be forgotton those of us who remain to enjoy our freedoms thank you and your fallen companions
from a card my own mother recieved from the war dept in 1945 informing her of the death of my father in a POW camp stated TIMES THAT WE ONCE KNEW,HOW DEAR THEIR MEMORIES STLL, DEATH HAS LEFT A LONELINESS THIS WORLD WILL NEVER FILL,
you have left us full of meomories and love wish i could say more than thank you my friend, a hundred times over,"
Bud Simmons of camdenton ,mo.

"Jesse Jesse, Oct 1st 2003
Hi baby I am missing you so bad again. Not sure why but when the nights start to turn colder my heart starts to hurt so bad. Sometimes I feel I may go crazy without you here.
I start to wonder if it will always be this way? 10 years from now will I still feel like this? I dont think I have ever wanted anything so badly. Or wished for something so much. If you could just come home and make my heart better. We went to a memorial dedacation for the Ft. Carson soldiers killed over this last year. That was so hard. I did pretty good considering they played TAPS while they read the over one hundred names. I was standing close to some of the families. It broke my heart to hear the mothers crying for their sons whom they would never see again. I thought again of your mother and the pain she must go through. We are all going through it but it is different for each of us. Carson went up to the rock afterwards and said bye bye Daddy bye bye GI Joe. That is what he calls you now. It is very cute, very sad but still cute. With all the spooky stuff coming out for Halloween ,He started saying daddy dead monster, I told him no daddy died and went to heaven he is not a monster. So now he will say Daddy in heaven. I smile as my heart breaks and say yes that is where daddy is. The other day he told me you were in the water I am still not sure where he got that one. Hopefully you are with him in some way that I dont know about. And that is why he says things like that.
He is talking so good if you were here you would crack up at the way he says things. He acts alot like you. He still has your beautifull eyes. I want to hold on to him so tight, holding on to him so that i can hold on to you. I try so hard to make him know you , I wear dog tags with your picture on them he will kiss you them hold them up to my lips so that I can kiss you as well. When he sees american flags he thinks of you and says daddy flag.
He is a mommies boy, and he likes shoes lol i would say that is alot like you. He walks around showing everyone his shoes, He tells them look nice shoes. It cracks me up maybe i will find him some with flames on them. He really lights up my world Jess, thank you so much for giving him to me.
Dakota is doing pretty good he is the best helper I could ever have. He helps take care of Carson and is the best big brother. You would be so proud of him. He talks to carson about you. And still prays for you. He is doing a little better in school this year. He is still in scouts and plays soccer as well. I cant get him to clean his room for nothing though. I wish you were here to help me with him. You were so much better with him then I could ever be. He listened to you cause he always wanted to please you.He still is your boy. The biggest daddies boy I have ever seen.Carson always wants to watch The Nightmare Before Christmas and Dakota says oh no not again, I have to laugh because I remember all the times I had to watch it with the 2 of you. Carson will try to sing the songs and Kota just rolls his eyes.
I guess I will go now baby I need to get to bed. I just wanted to say I love and miss you and let you know how the kids are. Please watch over them and let them know you are still here in some way. I love you and my heart still breaks for you everyday.Goodnight my love.
Love your angel
Missy"
Melissa Givens of Fountain Co. USA

"Hardbreaking to enter this site. Hope youīre family is doing allright. May god bee with you"
Policeofficer Nicolai of Denmark

"Connie and Will,
I've got your back.These folks really need to wake up! You are right.
Jesse,you are so missed. Love Aunt Susie"
Susie Swartz of Verona,Illinois

"P.S. I did not add Will was allowed to remove the cross, he also wrote the Columbia Newspaper to voice yours and the families views. Will you go boy. We are proud of you. Connie"
cgivens of Springfield, Mo.

"Jesse, I am so proud of your cousin Will Hobart. The Columbia news paper had a picture Fri. Aug 26th showing a mans house with a cross to represent the 1800 men and women that have lost their lives in Iraq, your's was at the very front really standing out. This man is exercising his freedon to do so in support of a woman that lost her son over in Iraq. The problem is that he had you there. Will called your brother and ask him if he had his permission to go over and ask the man to remove the cross, of course Reg said yes. Will went over and had a very heavy debate with the gentleman about it, Will responded and had very good answers for everything the man said. The gentleman finally told Will that he could not remove it on just a cousins say so. Will pulled out his cell phone and said great who do you want to talk to, his Mom, his brother, or his father, they are all avaible and will all tell this is not Jess's views, he believed in what he was doing and he backed his Commander in Chief, he would not want to be part of this protest even thought he would respect your right to do so.

Son, I know you are with us and you help guide Will in doing this. I am so proud of you both.

President Bush was right in fighing for our country. People forget so quickly how they felt on 9-11 watching people jump out of windows, the total devasation of it all. We had been so passive in the past, just saying it's o.k. blow up our ships, bomb the the Trade Center, bomb our Embassy we'll just turn our backs and walk away, so that they think no matter how many of our people they kill and no matter what they do we'll just turn our back and walk away. You were right, there is a time we have to stand up and fight to protect our children our Country and the Freedom we so deeply have taken for granit.
Love and miss you son.
Mom"
C Givens of Springfield, Mo.

"To Jesse, Thank you for serving your country. You gave the ultimate sacrifice.

To the Givens family: Melissa, Dakota and Carson,
I recently read the book THEIR LAST WORDS and I read your family's story.
I hope and pray that you and all the families that have lost their loved ones will have the strength to carry on. Hold your memories of Jesse deep in your heart and he will always be there with you."
Elizabeth Becvar of Manteno, IL

"Melissa,

Recently I saw Jesse's uncle Joe who I lost contact with for awhile. I learned from Joe what happened to Jesse.

I met Jesse when he was a little boy in Missouri when I was visiting his Aunt Sue. I will always remember Connie and her two little boys in my mind. Over the years Joe and Sue would tell me how Connie and her boys were doing. It is very apparent how much Jesse loved you and his boys. I wish I could have been with Connie and her and your family when you said good-bye to Jesse.

I also sense your loneliness at times from your letters to Jesse. Just as Connie was able to raise two boys on her own, I know you will too. They are your strength and Jesse's legacy. I want you to know I will always remember the sacrifice you and your boys have had to make.

Since I live in the area, if there is anything you ever need help with, please do not hesistate to contact me. I will mail you my contact information and will also get in contact with Connie (rich.colton@comcast.net)."
Rick Colton of Denver, Colorado

"For Dakota and Carson: Your Soldier Daddy was VERY, VERY BRAVE. Not everyone is strong or brave enough to be a soldier. Remember that your daddy is always looking down upon you boys with smiles and love with lots of hugs and kisses. It takes a special person to be a HERO and your daddy was the BIGGEST HERO OF ALL. with all my love and enderments. Shannon Cabrera-Austill"
oksoldiers@aol.com of Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

"It is never easy to say goodbye. I think of all the soldiers who have given their lives for another child in a foreign country to have (hopefully one day) the same freedoms that my children and nieces and nephews enjoy here in America. My brother, Spc. Jeffrey S. Henthorn gave his life for this country on February 8, 2005. I understand your pain, your sorrow, your grief. Jeff left behind 3 boys. Sadly, the youngest, Josh, now 2, he only saw once and Brenden lived in Arkansas, so the last time Jeff seen him, he was 2. Now he is 4 and calls my brother his "Soldier Daddy." So, Jeff's oldest son, Chance, 7, is the only one who can answer the question Josh and Brenden will ask, "What was Daddy like?" Chance walked up to the casket, drapped in the American Flag, slammed his hand down on it and said, "What's in this box?" His mother, Trisha and I replied, "It's your Daddy, Chance." Chance looked at each of us and demanded that if his Daddy was in there, that we were gonna let him see. "I demand...DEMAND to see if my Daddy is really in there." We spoke with Matt, one of the funeral directors and he said that if Chance said he wanted to see that we should allow him to since it would be the last time he would get to see his Daddy and that Chance understood what death was and what being dead meant, not to mention the fact that it may help in getting closure with Jeff's death. We left Matt and Chance so that Matt could explain to Chance what Jeff would look like and that what ever Chance felt he needed or wanted to say to his daddy, that now would be the time. That it would be the last time he would ever see his dad's body. At first we thought he would want to be alone, then he came into the hall and asked if we would come in with him. Trisha went into the parlor first and asked again if he was sure he wanted to see his Daddy. Chance said yes and proceeded into the room. He got on his tiptoes and glanced into the casket at his dad's remains. "Yep, that's Daddy, alright." he said. He walked closer to the casket lying his small hand at the bottom of the veiwing section, looked at Jeffrey and then placed his hand on Jeff's hand. "Daddy,...I'm...not gonna be able to see you again, so they told me I gotta say goodby. Daddy, I PROMISE, I really do promise that I'll be a good boy. I'm gonna be a GOOD boy, just like you told me to....Daddy, I love yoooo......." he cried. That was the hardest thing I've ever seen a child, my nephew, my brother's son do. I think about all the other children that have had to bury their father or mother. I cry for all of them, every single day. I still cry with the news of new losses. My brother was a good father and loved his boys very much. I'm sorry for you boy's loss. I understand how you feel. My thoughts and prayers are with you. oksoldiers@aol.com 6-24-05"
Shannon Cabrera-Austill of Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

"Missy,
The other night when we discussed how people say "Let us know if you need anything",and they usually just say it to be saying it. I want you to know, I DO MEAN IT. I still think you are doing a great job despite the ups and downs you say you go through. You know what I mean by this. Although I never knew Jess, I now know his family, and I know you are trying hard. You don't always have to do this alone. He wouldn't have wanted you to do it all alone. Mark and I REALLY ARE here for you if you need us~ Love your friend, Millie"
Millie Fick of Colo Springs

"Hey,Melissa How are you and your boys doing?I hope that you all doing good..Melissa you don't know me and this E-mail is coming all the way from Europe Switzerland.I am a filipina woman who's also a single mom to a gorgeous 27months old boy.I was surfing the net when I stumbled to your site and read it.I must say I had to cry while reading all your letter to your deceased husband.and jesse last letter to you and your kids was so sad and it breaks my hearts reading it.Melissa YOU ARE SO LUCKY BLESSED BY GOD FOR HAVING JESSE AS YOUR HUSBAND.I wish to someday met a man like jesse.Melissa My GOD BE WITH YOU AND YOUR LOVELY KIDS..Please email me back at this email address yette33@yahoo.com.that's only if you have time and like..I would really appreciate to hear from you..GOD BLESS YOU AND THE BOYS MELISSA!
Mayette from Switzerland"
Mayette of Zurich Switzerland

"Melissa,
I am a Marine stationed at CLNC. I read the article written on your family. I just want to tell you how greatful I am in reading it. Your husband was a wonderful husband and a great dad, I only wish my sons dad cared the same for his son the way Jesse cared for his kids and for you. God bless you and please email me, I would like to be a friend santanajudith@nmci.usmc.mil."
Judith of jacksonville, NC/USA

"Jesse, I love and miss you. I find comfort in knowing we will one day see you again. I remain proud of your service and humbled by your sacrifice."
Will Hobart of Columbia

"Reg,
I really don't know where to start with what I want to say to you.
During the bad times Jesse and I went through we would sit up in the middle of the night and talk. He would talk about growing up. He always ended up talking about his big brother, his hero and his best friend. You meant the world to him, and I am not sure at times if you are aware of that. I know if we could all rewind time a little we would go back and let the people we love know that we love them. You don't need to think of doing that, what I am trying to say is that he knew. Even after the time you guys didn't talk he knew the love you had for him and he had for you. He thought so much of you and it hurt him that he had let you down. It was not something he ever wanted to do. I wish so much that I had not taken your brother away from you for that period of time. I am so sorry. I had never had a close family and I guess in a big way I resented Jesse for having what I never did. I was selfish and I wish I could give you and Connie back the time I took.
But I know I can't, all I can do is try and make sure the two of you know that he loved you. He always wanted to fix things, he just wasn't sure how. He didn't know at times how to get it back to good. But there was never a day he didn't think of you and I am sure it is still like that. If you need to talk then talk I know he is there and he hears you. And knowing Jess never shut up you can imagine what he would say and how he would say it. I do that too.
You guys were blessed to have each other in this life and you will be together again some day.
We love you very much and as alone as you may feel at times, we are here and he is there with you too."
Missy Givens of Fountain Co. USA

"Connie,
I know that this day is very hard for you, I hope in someway he will take a little of your pain out of your heart. I know you sometimes don't feel as strong as you are. Let me say I don't think I have ever met a stronger woman. Jesse used to say how wonderful and strong his mom was. He had a love for you that was so deep. He respected you for all that you gave up so that you could be what he and Reg needed.
I could never imagine what you go through day in and day out, I hope I never have to experince the pain you feel. Our children are our lives, we have them, raise them then when something like this happens we think "what was it all for". I can't answer that but I would like to say. You raised a wonderful man that loved with every piece of himself that he could. You made Jesse the wonderful man that he was. We were blessed to have someone so pure. I have never met another with a heart like Jesse's, and thank you for giving him all that you did. I wish I could fix what is broken in your heart and I am sorry I can't. I know he was your baby. When you talk to me sometimes about him as a little boy with big dark eyes I think of Carson and try to put myself in your shoes. I can't think of it long because the pain is too much. I am sorry for the pain in your heart, I am so sorry our Jesse is gone. Thank you for making him what he was, I know I am a better person for having him in my life. We love you so much and hope in time the pain will ease up in someway.
Love Missy"
Missy Givens of Fountain Co. USA

"Dakota and Carson,
Daddy has been gone from us for two years now and there are things I need the two of you to know. I need you to know the love your daddy had for his boys. He would do anything at anytime for the two of you.
Dakota I know how much your heart breaks cause daddy is gone. I wish I could take it all away sweetheart. I would bring your dad back in a second if I could. You were always a daddy's boy. You and your dad had a bond that was so tight sometimes I wondered if I could even get that close to either of you. You made Jesse so happy with everything you did and I know he would be proud of you for the way you have helped me the last two years. I know you sometimes put your pain aside because you don't want to hurt me. But honey it is not your job to protect me. I know it hurts and it is ok to show it. Your daddy always said you had the biggest heart. He loved you from the first time he met you. I could see it in his eyes. Everything he did was out of love for you and your brother.
Carson, I hope you know even though you never got to meet daddy he loved you just as much. After we found out we were haveing a baby your daddy was so happy. I could see him beaming with happiness. His smile was so bright and proud. I remember the day we were out shopping for you and daddy found a snoopy dog he had to get for you. He said "every baby needs a snoopy" I laughed and told him he could buy it if he wanted to. He was so hurt when he had to leave to go to the war. He wanted to be here when you came into this world. He wanted to be here to play with you and your brother everyday. He loved you boys so much.
I am so sorry he was taken from you I am so sorry he had to go to heaven and can't be here with you guys now.
I try to be what you need and hope with all my heart I am doing what I need to do for you. I know I am not daddy and I can never take his place. But with the love that we both feel for you I hope I can make it a little easier and happier for the two of you. I know he watches over his boys and he will always love you. If there was anyway he could be here he would. The two of you were his world and he was so proud that you were his babies. Never forget even when you are lonely and angery that his love will forever be with you. Daddy is my hero as well as you guys are. I couldn't have made it without you. You two make me get up everyday and I love you so much for that.
Love Mommy"
Melissa Givens of Fountain Co. USA

"Jesse,
Hello my love. Today again is May 1st. Two years after you were taken away from us. Oh that is strange to think that I made it two years without you here. I remeber that day two years ago so well it is burned into my brain and my heart forever. When they told me you were gone I couldn't think of how I was going to do this without you. I told them no you couldn't be gone because I needed you. I needed you like other people need air. I needed you to live. To help me raise our children, I needed you here to love me as I love you.
Everyday I think of you, every night I pray for you, every second I love you, I always will. Most of the past two years is a blur to me when I try to think back and remeber things. In some weird way it feels as though my life stopped on May 1st 2003. I go through the motions but most of the time nothing feels real. I do think the pain in some way has gotten a little easier at times or maybe I have just gotten numb to the fact that you are gone. Dakota misses you so much still. I think it has just really hit him that you are never coming home. I hate that he feels so much pain that I cannot take away for him. We want to protect our children from all the bad things in life. But I can't fix this, I can't take away his heartache. Carson is getting big and thinks he is Mr. independent. He reminds me of you so much. At times it is a blessing to look into those dark little eyes and see you, other times it just rips my heart out.
Last night I was sitting here and the alarm on my cell phone went off, I looked at it and it was reminding me of the date. I am not sure when and why I programed it into my phone, like I could ever forget this horrible day. The silly things we do I guess to hold onto a love we never want to lose. I want to thank you for pushing me through the last two years. For taking some of my pain away, and for showing me that I will be ok. I don't always see it but in my heart I know I will make it. I have done many things to honor you and worry sometimes that I take it overboard. I wonder what you would think or what you would say about some of it. I do those things because I love you and I am so proud of you baby. I have never been as proud of anything in my world as I am of you. I am proud of the love you had for us, proud of the father and husband you were. Proud you fixed our family before you had to leave this world. Proud of the pride you had when you would put on your uniform everyday. You were so much to so many. When you died a lot of soldiers at Fort Carson kept telling me you were a wonderful soldier, I could only say I know. You were wonderful at everthing you did so why would that be any different. I need to go my love.
I will continue to love and miss you until I am with you again. Please continue to help our hearts and watch over our babies. I love you Jess.
Love your angel
Missy"
Missy Givens of Fountain Co. USA

"Jess,

Today I'm in Batesville Indiana to begin a week of training for work. I was with Mom last night and she drove me to the airport this morning, I think both of us are holding back pain we are feeling today. We talked, but neither of us really said how we were feeling. I just watched Field of Dreams, and I remember seeing it with you and how we both loved it and the way we related to it. I don't know how to handle these days. I get all tied up inside and feel as though I can't breathe. I can't seem let the pain out it just burns inside and I break down. How did this happen? How did I lose my little brother? It has been two years now and it seems as though it was today that we lost you....Courtney had her dance recital last night, and she was beautiful and graceful, and it was so hard because it was after her recital 2 years ago today when Missy called Mom and we heard that you had died. Since then I have withdrawn into my work and have tried not put myself in a place to get hurt more. I feel 1000 miles from people, even Mom and Rhonda, I'm not sure how to stop the fall. I know! I can hear you saying to quit being such a wuss and to stop the pity party. I just needed to tell someone what I couldn't tell anyone else, and you were always that someone. Thanks for listening.

I love you,"
Reg

"Melissa,
I pray for you as I have since I first heard of your husband's death. We were stationed at Ft Carson, in a different unit. My husband made it home and is now working on his second tour of Iraq. Your strength is an inspiration to all Army wives who fear their husbands not returning. I can't imagine what you go through. We have a 6 month old son and sometimes I think it's not fair that I have to do it all alone, then I remember at least it isn't forever, at least my son knows his father. Your strength is so admirable. Thank you for sharing your story, your husband was the first to pass away from Ft Carson and it made all of us love our husbands a little more, try harder to show them. You are an inspiration. You have so much to be proud of, your husband sacrificed so much for his country. I thank both him and your family for all you gave up."
Natalie of Ft Irwin, CA

"Hey Melissa and Family,

High my name is Travis M. Rummel, I served with Jesse in Hco 2-3 ACR at Ft. Carson. You are probably not familiar with me but I figured I would just get on here and leave a comment for someone I considered a great man and who I felt loved his family more than anything. He is deffinately a hero in more ways than one and he will be missed by many and forgotten by nobody. Take care and best of wishes to you and your family."
travis_rummel@yahoo.com of Camp Casey, South Korea

"April-1st-2005

Dear Jesse,

Thank you for your unselfish kindness, for the way you touched so many hearts in so many ways. For the love you shared and gave. For the impressions you leave forever etched in our hearts and memories. For the personal sacrafices you endured as did so many of our brothers and sisters out there... Thank you on behalf of all Americans whether they realize and or like it or not. Because of you we sleep and live without fear. Your efforts were not for personal gain, but for the love of a nation and her people. For the love of our children and respect of our fore fathers.. your efforts were not in vain and will live on for all eternity. I too will look out into the heavens and know that without you and others like you life is not complete... Shine on Jesse.

Cherish "the dance" Melissa... Try not to be sad, Jesse wants you happy... he smiles when you smile {{{hugsss}}}.
I think we are all blessed and better for having Jesse in our lives, even if the time was short. Sometimes we have to go through hell to have the strength and be prepared for even greater blessings or for whatever the plan may be.

To: Jesse's enire family...You are all my heros. You are fine proud Americans; good loving people who raised a wonderful son, brother, husband & father. Again... Thank you. God Bless America! Bless our military men, women and familys and God bless the Givens family.

missbecky2000@hotmail.com"
Becky of Bowling Green, Ky

"03/26/05
Missy:
You and the family are in our prayers. There are no words that express my deepest sorrow for your loss. I know the pain that wells up inside and bursts out without ebb. I will continue to keep you and the children in my prayers. They will know their daddy through the letters left on this web site. HE IS A HERO. not just to the citizens of our country, but most of all to you and the children."
Chris of Pinole, California

"St. Charles Democratic Alliance held a Tribute & Memorial to the 20 fallen soldiers from Missouri on 3/19/2005, the 2nd anniversary of the War in Iraq. Four families of the fallen attended the event, and nine families shared messages that were read during the tribute by Connie Greene, sister of fallen soldier Jamie Huggins. The event aired on all four local newscasts (Fox KTVI, KPLR, KSDK, KMOV.) Biographies of each of the fallen soldiers were read while photos of the soldiers were displayed. The event also included Bible readings, songs, keynotes speeches by Rev. Jason Samuel and Viet Nam Veteran Ken Peters, and a fellowship in the church hall immediately following the tribute. Our organization was sensitive to the fact that even though information on Missouriís fallen soldiers is a matter of open record, we had to go beyond the name, rank and serial number Ė we needed to share information on the fallen soldiers from the familyís perspective and present a tribute that each of the soldiers would have approved of. This was a day for honoring Missouriís finest, as well as the sacrifice the families made, and continue to make every day. Special thanks to the Burkhardt, Gottfried, Huggins and Spink families for traveling long distances to Transfiguration Church in Lake St. Louis to participate in this community tribute. (anngastler@charter.net)"
Ann Gastler of St. Charles Democratic Alliance of St. Peters, MO

"Mellisa,

I have been wanting to write to you for so long, and I just havent found the right words to say.I am a Navy wife and on April 4th my life will change as I become an Army wife. Sometime in May or June my husband will leave for Iraq. I am so scared, and at the same time I am trying to be positive and continue my undying support. We have three children 10, 3, and 2. Our youngest is special needs, she also needs so much support. How do you let them go and not show them you are scared? I have done 6 month deployments with the Navy but never 18 months in the Army to a war zone. We lost my brother n law the day before he was due to return from Iraq and the thought of losing my husband tears me apart. You are a great example to military wives! I am so sorry for your lose and if you every need anything please feel free to contact me. kristimann28@yahoo.com. Have you recieved a hero bracelet yet with Jesse's name on it? If not I would be honored to have one sent to you and one for each of the boys. Please let me know. Again thank you for sharing such a wonderful love story and a tragadey in one.

God Bless,
Kristi"
Kristi Mann of Mineral Wells Texas

"3/11/05
Jesse,
Happy Birthday baby. Today was a busy day and i was getting ready to go to bed but needed you to know that I love and miss you so much. You would have been 36 today, It still breaks my heart to talk about you in past tense.
We had a party for you and I hope somehow you know that. Dakota got you an army cake with little tanks on it. It was fun, sad but fun. I wish so much you could be here with us. I miss you baby I need sleep but wanted to say HAPPY BIRTHDAY. Take care of my heart and please watch over the boys. We all love you. I will write again later.
Love Your Wife
Missy"
Missy Givens of Fountain Co. USA

"03-03-05
It is so tragic this young soldier has to be taken away from his wife, sons and family. We do not know God's plan but this is for sure. When you close your eyes for the last time, standing there, smiling with open arms will be your Jesse. Thank you Jesse and may God grant your loved ones peace until you are together again. From a very grateful American family."
Jim & Margie Shaw of Pasadena, Maryland

"I am organizing a 3/19/2005 Tribute & Memorial Service Honoring Missouri's Fallen Soldiers, hosted by St. Charles Democratic Alliance. We plan to have a spiritual memorial tribute planned to honor the 18 fallen Missouri soldiers who died in Iraq. We wanted to let you know your beloved isn't forgotten and invite you to this tribute. If you're not able to be in Lake St. Louis on 3/19/05 but would like to send a message or letter that we could read on behalf of your family, again, we'd be honored. Again, my deepest sympathy and please know that Jesse is in my prayers.
Ann Gastler (anngastler@charter.net) of St. Peters, MO"
Ann Gastler (anngastler@charter.net) of St. Peters, MO

"Jesse, Feb.16 2005
Hello Baby, Here I am again setting in front of this computer needing so badly to talk to you. It is 1am and I have set here for the last few hours, and have been thinking about my life. There are things on my mind that are haunting me. I think of the love you have for me and needed so badly to tell you thank you. Thank you for loveing me, thank you for being true. I had never felt what love was until the day I met you. From the first moment I saw you I knew we would be together. I dont know where i would be if I had not met you. You were my safe place, you were my reason, you were the person that stood up for me, and loved me so deeply.
Thank you so much for saving me from myself. you use to say that I was your angel but I know in my heart that you were mine. You gave me worth and love that no one ever had before. Knowing my past as you knew it, showing me that there was more to life, and that I was worth so much more then I could ever see. You did save me from hell.
I know that is why god gave you to me. There are very few people in this world that I have felt true love from. You loved me without wanting anything in return. You needed me to be happy and that is so much more then anyone else ever wanted to see in me. I need you to know that you did that for me, you made me happy, you made me feel things I had never felt. And thought I never would.
I learned hope when I met you I was just going to go trough my life going trough the motions until that day. I use to always wonder why I was here growing up and all the hell that was in my path. I would sit and think how much god hated me to put me through the things I was living through. There were so many times I would just ask him to take me from this world and stop being so cruel to me.
I know since you have been gone my pain is so much. But I would not trade the pain I am now feeling bacause I was loved by you. I now have worth, I know what it is like to feel. I know what it is like to be loved. I can never in all my life thank you enough for what you did for me. I know you lost alot of time with your mom and your brother because of me and I am sorry, I never wanted to bring pain into your life but I was trying so hard to kill all my pain I could not see what was right in front of my face. Thank you for not giving up on me. Even when it got bad for a while you stood by me and tried to protect me. I need you to know I will hold you in my heart till the day I day. I am a better person for knowing you. And I do think I will be able to live the rest of my life healthier beacuse of your love. As bad as the pain is I would not trade our time together for the world. I learned more in our short time then in my whole life. Your mother did such a wonderfull job with you and Reg, I just hope I can be half as good with our children. I want them to grow up to be the kind of men that you and your brother are. I never knew what a real family was supossed to be like until you. Hell my ideal of normal would scare most people. But you showed me things could be different, I again thank you for that.
I wish more then anything that you could still be here with me, but also know that no matter how hard it gets with lossing you I am a very lucky women cause I was loved by you. Ok my love I need to go cry myself to sleep. Thank you for making my world a better place.I do see you as one of the greatest gifts in my life, and hope that no matter how long we are apart, that some how you know you made me want to live. You made me want more. I love you baby with all my heart and will miss you till we meet again.
Love your wife"
Melissa Givens of Fountain Co. USA

"Melissa, you don't know me but I worked with Jesse at SEARS in Joplin Mo. I don't ever remember seeing him without a smile on his face. I was a manager in the Auto Center there. I was very sad when I learned of his death, Jesse was loved by all. I met Jesse'DAD and Brother a few months ago, they were on their way to watch a Northwestern foot ball game. I couldn't believe how much Jesse looked like his Dad! We had a very nice conversation about Jesse,his dad is a very strong and proud man.you are all in my prayers.God bless you. My email is JM4KC@aol.com"
Jerry Moss of Joplin ,Missouri/USA

"Melissa & boys, I was on a website to order a memorial bracelet, which bears the name of a soldier who lost his/her life for our country. The website I was looking at has alot of names listed as options to be engraved on the bracelets. I thought that I'd like to have mine engraved with someone's name that was from somewhere close to my hometown, which is where I came across Jesse's name...I did a search on his name to see if I could get a little info on him and I have to tell you, I am so glad that I did. I've been here at my computer for about 4 hours now searching and reading about you both--I kinda feel like I know you now! lol While reading all the posts on here I realized that I had seen the episode of Oprah that you were on. I want you to know that I have just been moved to sobs! I've been working and praying overtime lately to try and salvage my marriage. I want my husband to feel for me the way Jesse felt for you, and I want so much for my girls to see what it means for 2 people to love each other--to set a good example for them so that when they get older and marry, they won't settle for anything less. That being said, I've been truly inspired and blessed by your story and think that you have a given a priceless gift to your boys, and that is a beautiful love story. Not many children are a witness to that nowadays. I really wish I could give it to mine, and maybe I will someday--but you have already and I admire you for that. I would truly be honored to constantly wear my memorial bracelet with Jesse's name engraved on it if that is ok with you. I just wanted to get your blessing. I would love to hear from you and hope that you will email me at mscgum@earthlink.net"
Charli of Potosi, MO

"Melissa,
I just want to say how sorry I am for your loss. I like many others watched you on Oprah and HBO. I was really pulled to you and your story. You and your boys are in my prayers along with my family because we lost our marine in April of 2004. He was my husbands cousin and the pain that I have felt which is tremendous can not even compare to the worst pain felt by people like you and my Aunt(my cousins mom) I can see it in her eyes that she has lost so much and the pain is so deep that not even time will heal it until she is with him in heaven. I see the same pain in your eyes. I am just so so sorry and all that I can do is pray that yours and everyone elses family who has lost someone will be taken care of. I know the pain will never go away just maybe tomorrow will be a better day than the last. You will always and forever be in my prayers."
Jesika of Lovington New Mexico USA

"To Melissa and the Givens family,

I have recently read the letters you had received from your late husband Jesse. I was touched beyond words. One moment I was thinking and worrying about the everyday problems surrounding me, the next I was reading a book that contained Jesse's letter.
I have been told by many people that I am a big tough guy and I am not the crying type. I must say, after reading that letter I could barely control myself. All of a sudden all my problems didn't amount to much. My thoughts kept going back to you and your family and the Love that your husband had for his family and country.
I know my writing, can not even begin to heal the loss you have suffered. They say time heals all wounds. I don't believe that, some wounds go too deep, some losses too great, because of this I know Jesse will forever be with you. My only hope is that time will at the very least, diminish your pain.
I feel like I know Jesse, I get the feeling he would be the kind of friend a friend would like to have. A man dedicated to his family and his country, a Hero to us all.
God Bless you Jesse and your family. My prayers go out to your family and especially you.
A Son
A Husband
A Father
A Soldier
A Hero"
Anthony Napolitano of Margate,FL/U.S.A

"I would like to say i'm sorry for what had happen. i'm fixing to go to my duty station and prob. going to iraq this year of 05. i'm 21 years old and married with a baby on the way in July. i would like to say be strong and stay in there. as a soldier i know that it is my job to go to war and keep it safe for my wife and future child. The letter really touch me and i don't know how i'm going to write mine.i hope i never have to have that sent home to my wife. my brother-in-law is over there in iraq. he is coming home in march. i pray every night that he come home."
PV2 Ash, David K. of Fort Lewis, WA

"Melissa, Dakota, and Carson: How wonderful that you will have all of these memories of daddy. Jesse was a true American patriot--serving his country in a very trying time and keeping all of us safe and free. Now, he can look down upon us and help look after his buddies in Iraq. With his help, and ours, we'll get our American men and women home safe and soon. I have an "adopted" Marine serving in Iraq and I pray for him daily. I know it is very trying for me to watch the news, so it must be almost unbearable for wives, children, and parents. Dakota and Carson, you continue to help daddy by watching over mommy. They both love you very much."
Ted Cagley of Pontiac, Illinois

"Melissa

I went to high school with Jesse. I was a good friend of Regs and Jesse was always the little brother with a big baby face smile.

Although I have lost touch with the Givens, my heart has not been the same since the news came and all of you have been in my thoughts and prayers ever since.

I am not suprised to hear of his compassion that you experienced as his wife or witnessed as a dad. Those that knew Jesse would expect nothing less.

God speed to you, Reg and your families."
Scott Hickman of Springfield MO

"Jesse,
Hi baby it is me again.Today is christmas and I have missed you so much. I guess last year was a little easier in a way because you would have still been deployed. But this year you should have been home. The pain is everyday but today as I tried to put toys together for the boys it seemed harder. It took me forever, you would have had everything done in no time. It made me think so much about the years before when you were here. There is so much I would give to have all that back. Dakota was talking to me last night and said all he wanted from santa was some action figures and to see you.I told him again that you were here just not like that, I can see the doubt in his eyes when i try to convince him. I dont know how to make this better for him but I want so badly to take the pain from his heart.
It is so strange how we can be going along just fine then all the sudden it hits that you are gone and not coming home. The boys are growing so much. They are both so funny and they make me laugh. You are missing so much. I wish they did not have to go through there young lives with no father here. I try very hard to keep your memory alive in them and so far I think I am doing ok at it. But it never seems to be enough. I know how much happier you could have made them if it had been the other way around. And I doubt sometimes that I am doing a good job. I get so scared and feel so alone often. I try to imagine what you would say to me in times like that. I miss your voice I miss hearing you talk to me and build me back up. It seemed that in a short time my whole life, my plans, and all my dreams changed and for the life of me I cant come up with new ones. What do you do when nothing is normal anymore. I dont even know what normal is most days. I feel like at times I am going to lose my mind trying to figure it all out. I guess in time it will all come to me but until then please help give me faith, and hope.I need those two things so much but they fade away so often. Please know I love you and will spend the rest of my life loveing you. I am still so much in love with you as well. I wanted to tell you merry christmas and to let you know you were missed very badly today. I need to go sleep baby maybe tomorrow will be a brighter day. I love you Jesse
Love your angel"
Missy Givens of Fountain Co. USA

"Jesse, thank you. I did not know you, and it was my loss. I will surely never forget you.

Melissa, thank you for having the courage to share Jesse's words with us. We are forever changed."
Aaron of Chicago, IL

"An American Boy
A far away land on which you last roam;
Still your family wishes you were at home.Your son with whom you always play; All of us especially him, misses you every day. Your final farewell is cherished by your wife;She cries knowing you'll never see your second-born's first day of life. You left this world with a tear on your face; now your name is thought as dignity and grace. You are gone but your name, love and spirit lives on.
I'm sorry we've never met; and knowing how great you were makes me upset. Your mother sees you at your final resting bed; wishes she could kiss that famous "Payne" forehead. Forever and even more when we think of Jesse from the first time you played with a toy.To your final words, you will always be an American boy.

By Jess's cousin
Benjamin Ira Payne
Ninthe grader
Cache la Poudre
Junior High School
LaPorte, Co."
Connie Givens of Springfield, Mo.Grn

"Dear Melissa,
I just finished watching Last Letters Home and remembered seeing you on the Oprah show about a week ago. I, as everyone who watched the show, was so moved by your story...I'm still crying as I type this (I watched your part three times). Aside from having unmeasureable sympathy for what you are going through, I couldn't help but think: What a lucky woman you are to have found such a deep, passionate, sincere, caring, thoughtful love. Many people live their entire lives without ever experiencing half the love you and Jessy seemed to have for one another. Your children have such a great example of a father, husband, son, man and human being to follow. God bless you and your family. And may He guide and protect all of you as you continue your lives. Thank you for your sacrifices and for having the courage to share your story."
Jenny Pimentel of Boston, MA USA

"Dear Melissa,
I was deeply moved by your story. I watched you on HBO's "Last letters to home" and also on Oprah. You are a strong, brave, beautifull person. You were and are just as courageous as your husband Jesse. Jesse's letter to you and your children broke my heart. I'm not sure which was harder, him writing it, or you reading it. The letter was beautifully written. I've watched "Last letters to home" 3 times. I cried just as hard the 3rd time as I did the first time. I know there is nothing anyone can do or say to bring Jesse back. But live life through him. Do all the things you and him planned on doing. Tell Dakota and Carson every morning and every night, how deeply their Daddy loved them. Stay strong Melissa. Keep your chin up. God Bless You."
Dawn of Southern Michigan

"Melissa,

I was watching Oprah today and I saw your story. I am so sorry for your loss and I know it hurts like crazy. I saw the commercials for the HBO special but I just couldn't get myself to watch it. I lost my fiancee,Dan, 6 months ago to the war in Iraq and like you I recieved a letter from him telling me how he was having these bad feelings inside and that he needed to tell me how much I meant to him and how much he loved and missed me. It was the hardest thing to read. But I was comforted in knowing how much he really loved and cared for me. Also I am comforted in knowing he's with God and is watching over me everyday until it's my time to join him in paradise. I know Jesse watches over you and your boys everyday with a huge grin on his face because he is so proud of you. I wrote a poem for Dan's funeral and I would like to share it with you.
It's called In A Garden For Angels:

Life is a gift not ours to keep,
A seed unsown and yet we still reap.
Here for only a very short while,
The heavenly reality of an earthly denial.
Like a flickering light here and then gone,
The essence of what love is based upon.
Birth and death the beginning and end,
As one heart breaks another one mends.
What was never ours is no more,
Returning to whom it belonged before?
Tear filled eyes silence the heart,
As body and spirit slowly part.
Life is a journey from first breath to last,
Memories left behind in the eternal past.
The here and now releases becoming a remember when,
Replanting the seed so that a new harvest can begin.
With trembling hands love says good-bye,
But still the heart can't help but ask, "Why God Why?"
A heavenly destination will be reached this day,
And in a garden for angels another spirit awakens to play.

You and your boys are in my prayers and I pray God will be by your side always. If you ever need anything I am here for you. God Bless."
Brenda of Mankato, MN

"Dear Melissa,
I was deeply moved by your families loss. I am grateful to Jesse for the sacrifice he has made for the country. I pray that you and your family are coping and have found some measure of peace and comfort.
As a small token of gratitude for your sacrifice, I have sent a check.
I pray that you and the boys are doing OK. Jesse may be the fallen hero however, your sacrifice is equally as great. Your challenge ahead is greater.
I wish you and the kids all the best. My family and I and will pray that things get easier for you as time goes on.
Thank you again for your incredible sacrifice. God bless you and your family."
Charlie M of Potomac, Maryland

"dear melisa, and boys. I just watched
HBO "last letters" i was so moved by your story. I just had to writw. My heart goes out to you and your boys. I will pray for you. If you ever need someone to talk to please call on me. sggrogan@aol.com. I am so sorry. His last letter was just beautiful. It was like he knew he would not be returing home to you. I am so sorry. I can only bealive that he was in peace about it. He expressed himself so well in that letter. I am so thankful you have that last letter from him to you and your boys. God bless. I will pray for you. your new friend, simone"
simone grogan of aspen, colorado

"Melissa Givens,
Your Family Has Cought my heart when i heard the letter from your husband.
Im not the type of guy to cry but the words that he wote just touched me.
I honor your husbands loyalty to our country. P.S. Clay parker"
Clay Parker of New Orleans/ Louisiana/USA

"Melissa...I am now a cadet at West Point, but I served with 3rd ACR on their initial deployment to Iraq. I wasn't in the same unit as your husband, but I was there on the day he passed away. I just wanted to say that I will never forget your husband or any of the fallen soldiers. I'm terribly sorry about what happened and not a day goes by that I don't think about how they gave their lives for their country. Please take care and god bless you."
Robert Davis of West Point, NY

"Dear Missy,

There are computers in Heaven. Please don't feel you are alone. You will always be Jess's Pumpkin Pie.

mcuozzo415@aol.com"
of New York

"Dear Miss,

There are computers in Heaven."

"Eve and Bruce, Of course I remember you guys, I have thought about you many times since Jess passed away and wished so many times I could talk to you.I love you guys so much and miss you at the same time. Please send me your info like email phone number and all that to the P.O. box I would love to be able to call and talk to you."
Missy Givens of Fountain Co. USA

"dear mellisa im very sorry about jesse see it on hbo hope you rember me im eve and bruce from 1384 apt c sandalwood dr. please send me some mail back love eve and bruce"
eve-bruce of orange texas

"Melissa,
I have watched the HBO special several times. I'm not sure why I feel the need to see it over and over again. Watching you read those beautiful words that your husband wrote touches my heart in a different way everytime. I am so sorry for your loss and for your children. I think of you often and hope that you and your children are doing ok. I know the holidays must be hard for you. I just wanted you to know that even though I don't have any conections to the war in Iraq, I think and appriciate every man and women making the sacrifice for our country and for our families. I wanted to thank you for allowing your husband to defend our beautiful country. My girls and I say a special pray every night for you and your 2 boys. We also say thank you to Jesse. You have touched my life in a way that I will never take simple things for granted ever again. Sincerely beckycarlin@sbcglobal.net"
Becky Carlin of Modesto,CA USA

"Dear Melissa, I have typed a hundered messages on here and deleted them all. There is so much I want to say to you but I would rather tell you privatly. My email is ltamtyler@aol.com

Jesse- There is so much I would love to say about you on here, but I just can't go there right now. We shared a birthday so you know you will never be far from my thoughts. Everyone sees you as a big hero for going overseas. I think Missy would agree with me when I say little do the people that never knew you know what a hero you were before you even joined the army. You went though so much and changed so many lives - you just could relate so well to others - and the friends you made here will love you for the rest of their lives. there is a guy here in Joplin that looks just like you and I know he thinks I am nuts because everytime I see him I start to say something a stop because I come to and know it can't be you. I will never forget all the nights you spent with us playing cards and going to taco bell in the middle of the night - and how happy you were when you started dating Melissa. I am so glad you found that love and you were able to have your two boys.You know I did not like it when I found out you had moved away but I was ok with it because you were healthy and happy, but even through all of my prayers for you and your family I just am still not ok with you not being here. I just have to rely on my christian faith and believe that God had a higher plan for you. Maybe I can write again sometime. But for now I am still way to emotional to. Terry and I love you so much Birthday Buddy! - Oh when Ashlynn out grew your 49ers shirt Madalynn took it over - now she has almost out grown it."
Lisa and Terry Tyler of Joplin MO

"Melissa,
I was completely saddened... beyond words hearing your story. I am utterly inspired by your courage & ability to perservere through such devestation. Your loss, which I viewed on the HBO special, was amazingingly inspiring.
I needed to tell you how I admired your LOVE. As you well know, Jesse loved you & the boys beyond words.. BUT even more, YOUR LOVE AFFAIR, as a couple, & a family, SHINED THROUGH ALL OF OUR TV'S INTO EVERY HEART & HOME. I am TRULY amazed by his love for you, that is still ALIVE!!!..,You must see that in every letter you receive??!!! Maybe he is still trying to tell you.
Thank you for sharing your family's love."
S. Moore of Lincroft, NJ, USA

"Dear Melissa, Dakota, and Carson Givens:
I would first like to say an enormous Thank you for the incredible sacrifice you all have made in the name of FREEDOM. As I sit in my warm home on this chilly November night I was saddened and hurt to watch HBO's "Last letters Home" and to see the raw pain your family felt reading the last letter from your husband, and father Jesse. It affected me deeply. I have never cried so much. Your story made the war in Iraq, and it's tragedy, real for me on a level I was not prepared to deal with. I want to thank you for that. Your courage to express something so personal made what I see on TV so very real. I think it is very easy for most Americans to move past the news we see every night because there is always more news tomorrow. I want you all to know that your story is very important to me and how greatful I am to your husband for making the ultimate sacrifice in an effort to keep my family safe. I pray for you all and all the troops, and you are in my prayers."
Kathy Muniz of Albuquerque, NM

"Melissa,
First off let me start by saying you have soo much to be proud of. I saw HBO's special this evening and was quite saddened by your story the most. Listening to you read Jesse's letters and seeing Dakota's 1 in a million smile just broke me down like never before. Dakota and Carson hopefully someday when your old enough to read these letters from all the people who had a chance to write to you and your family, you will understand how much your daddy really loved you. Just from the letters and what was said in those letters, you can tell exactly what kind of a man Jesse was and how much your family meant to him. I would like to think he's watching everyone right now and smiling down on the people who are helping you remember what an awesome person, father, husband he was and resting assured that he'll always be in our hearts. I have kept up to date with alot of what's been going on in Iraq. And all though i may not agree with our motives for war, i absolutely support our military and want them to all come home to their families,friends, etc. real soon. Melissa you hang in there and just please know how much your story meant to me and so many other people. At this point i'm lost for words, god bless you, Dakota(Toad),and Carson(Bean).

rbracy@charter.net"
Robert Bracy of San Luis Obispo, Ca.

"Dear Mrs. Givens and family,

I saw the HBO special which aired here in Spangdahlem, Germany. We are stationed at an Air Force Base here. I was so moved by your story and your husband's letter. How emotional! It brought alot of tears. My husband served in Iraq too, but by God's grace came back, so its hard to know how you feel. Its also hard to know God's plan most times. I am sure you have questioned the Lord many times, I know I did as I sat and listened to your story. The bible verse from Isaiah55:8 comes to mind...For my thoughts are not your thoughts,neither are your ways my ways,saith the LORD. Jesse sounded like a good man who was full of love for his family. We seem like we have some in common. I am so sorry for your loss. I have decided to pray for you every time I think of you and your family. I will pray that God will ease your pain and your son's pain each day. I pray that you will lean so close to the Lord. I pray that God will give you wisdom as you make decisions for your family. God bless you Mrs. Givens. You, your husband, and your children will always be close to my heart.
In Christ,
Stacy Byers"
Stacy of Bitburg, Germany

"Melissa,

It is rare to find words so beautifully written about love that brings such emotion. Especially when those words aren't coming from or directed to someone I've ever met. With that love I can't imagine the grief you and your family is experiencing.

Your family is absolutely amazing. To see how many people were touched by a man they've never met. That he was willing to give up his own life for not just his family but for a country full of people that he would never have the chance of meeting. Your sons that are too young to have lost their father. And you, someone that has to take on so much by supporting your family and finding your own time and way to grieve. You may not feel strong at times but raising two kids is not easy. Let alone on your own when you were planning to do so with your partner. Your strength is truely admirable. Your thoughtful, miraculous heart for continuing to think of your friend Melissa in the note you wrote to her. Letting her know that you are there for her as much as she has been there for you.

Your family has reminded me of what is truely important in life. So many people in this world need that reminder. Thank you so much for that. And I'm truely sorry that it cost you so much pain to remind the thousands of people that it touched. We are all forever indebted to you and your family."
Schlifka of Portland, OR

"Melissa, Dakota and Carson, My heart is broken and I feel I may never laugh again after learning of your loss. Jesse certainly was a most sensitive and loving person. Melissa, reading the letters you continue to write to your husband tears me up inside and makes me reflect on the silly inconsequential things we humans spend time worrying about when we need to spend that energy showing our love to those around us. You, your sons and Jesse will always have a place in my heart. I wish there was something I could do to mitigate your pain. I will pray for your family as well as for world peace which is what Jesse was hoping for. Love to you."
Kate Tippett of Virginia Beach, Virginia

"Melissa, Dakota and Carson, My heart is broken and I feel I may never laugh again after learning of your loss. Jesse certainly was a most sensitive and loving person. Melissa, reading the letters you continue to write to your husband tears me up inside and makes me reflect on the silly inconsequential things we humans spend time worrying about when we need to spend that energy showing our love to those around us. You, your sons and Jesse will always have a place in my heart. I wish there was something I could do to mitigate your pain. I will pray for your family as well as for world peace which is what Jesse was hoping for. Love to you."
Kate Tippett of Virginia Beach, Virginia

"Melissa, Dakota and Carson, My heart is broken and I feel I may never laugh again after learning of your loss. Jesse certainly was a most sensitive and loving person. Melissa, reading the letters you continue to write to your husband tears me up inside and makes me reflect on the silly inconsequential things we humans spend time worrying about when we need to spend that energy showing our love to those around us. You, your sons and Jesse will always have a place in my heart. I wish there was something I could do to mitigate your pain. I will pray for your family as well as for world peace which is what Jesse was hoping for. Love to you."
Kate Tippett of Virginia Beach, Virginia

"Dear Melissa and Family: I watched the HBO special tonight. I was so moved by all the letters home..but was especially moved by your letter. I was crying during the broadcast, but even more so during your segment. Thank you for sharing with everyone out here your special letter. Jesse seems like he was a wonderful person and a really special guy. I am mailing a letter to your PO box if thats ok! Thank you again!"
Elizabeth of Horn Lake, MS

"JESSE ALAN I'M SO ALONE TONIGHT . I PRAYED ALL MY LIFE FOR YOU BOYS . THEN YOU GO GET YOURSELF KILLED IN IRAQ . I WAS SO ANGRY WITH GOD UNTIL I REMEMBERED THAT YOU TOLD ME THAT IF ANYTHING HAPPENED TO YOU YOU WOULD BE WITH HIM . I KNOW YOU ARE SO MUCH BETTER OFF THEN US BUT SON I MISS YOU SO MUCH IT HURTS EVERY DAY . I WALK BY THE FLAG EVERY DAY AS I GO IN TO WORK AND I SALUTE IT AND SAY LOVE YA JESSE ALAN . I ONLY WISH YOU WERE HERE NOW YOUR BROTHER IS IN TROUBLE IN FL AND I DONT KNOW HOW TO HELP . REG AND CORRY DONT EITHER BUT YOU WOULD HAVE BECAUSE YOU DID IT FOR YOURSELF AND MISSY . SHE TOLD ME YOU LOVED HER SO MUCH THAT WHEN YOU GOT OUT OF HELL YOU CAME BACK FOR HER . SCOOTER IS THER NOW AND I NEED YOU TO HELP . I KNOW SITTING HERE TALKING TO YOU IS SILLY BUT I KNOW YOU WOULD UNDERSTAND. JESSE I LOVE YOU ! AND ALWAYS WILL . SEE YOU IN MY DREAMS ."
DENNIS GIVENS of JEFFERSON CITY,MO/COLE

"Dear Melissa, I first came across your husband's letter about 6 months ago when it was printed in one of the local newspapers here in Minnesota. When I first read it I became overwhelmed with emotion and immediately shared it with my wife. It is simply the most beautiful letter I have ever had the honor of reading. It has hung upon our refigerator ever since then to remind us of the sacrifice the soldiers are making and to remind us of the beauty we have surrounding us. As a father of two small kids, I think I will be forever grateful to your husband for reminding me of the beauty I have in them. He reminds me every day to "quit taking life so serious" and to smile and play.

Jesse, you and the kids are in our thoughts and prayers everyday.

God bless,
Marcus Bolton
Farmington, MN"
Marcus Bolton of Farmington, MN

"Thank you Elizabeth For your kind words it does mean alot to me and my family when others take the time to share there thoughts and feelings with us.Everything helps. I am glad your brother made it home safe. It pains me when others have to go through this.
God Bless you and thank you."
Missy Givens of Fountain Co. USA

"Dear Missy~

I came across your husband's letter today on this site & my heart aches for you. I don't know enough words to tell you how sorry I am for you loss; I know words don't help much to ease the pain & loneliness. There's a song on the radio with the line, "I want to hold you high & steal your pain away," and that line kept running through my head. I couldnít get you & your sons out of my head. I wish I could somehow ease your pain & take it for myself, but life never works like that. I watch the nightly news each night & canít hold back the tears as the ďFallen HeroesĒ segment plays. I say a prayer for the family & loved ones of each soldier; my own brother recently returned from the war, and sometimes I feel guilty that I can still pick up the phone & call him. I canít tell you I understand the struggles that you have endured while learning to cope with your loss. Sometimes itís not just a matter of coping, but of surviving. I prayed for you & your little boys last night; I pray for the Lord to help ease your pain & guide you as you raise two little boys alone. Please know there are so many people out here who are praying for you. I know words will never bring your husband back, but maybe knowing how many us of care will help bring you a bit of peace, if only just for a moment. I will never forget you & your husband, and Iím sorry words are all I have to give to you."
Elizabeth, Sister of a Soldier of Oak Grove, MO

"Melissa,
My sincere condolences to you and your children. My husband SSgt. Donald C. May, Jr. was killed in action March 25, 2003 when I was 7 months pregnant with our third child. I gave birth to Will, three weeks after my husband's funeral, on May 1st. My husband was a Tanker too.......

I would appreciate it if you could contact me at debm29palms@yahoo.com. Thank you very much....."
Deborah May PW of MarineSSgt. Donald C. May, Jr of Jacksonville, NC

"Jesse Sept 21 2004
Hi baby,It has started getting cold out and for some reason that made me miss you so much today. Maybe cause I know it will be another long cold winter with out you. I remember when we would always go out and it would be cold, I never dressed warm enough so I would steal your cloths lol. I miss little things like that. I miss you so much and it only takes the littlest things to remind me that you are never coming home.
Dakota started cub scouts he is a Tiger cub.he makes me sad after every meeting we go to, he comes home and tells me how much he wants a dad. I am trying so hard to be both the mom and the dad but it is so hard. I am not very good at all the daddy things so I get pissed at you for making me do all this alone. It wasnt going to be like this you were going to be here to help me, to be the daddy and to be my husband for the next million years.
I have never felt so cheated in my life, I have never felt so alone. I get mad when people say things are not fair and then here I am and this inst fair.Maybe some days I feel sorry for myself but I dont think that is the case I think I feel more like I have been robbed.
Robbed of happiness, love and my life the way it was planned. I want to be so much for our boys but i can never be you, so I feel that nothing is good enough. You would think the pain would get a little better with time but it doesnt.
I am so sick of my heart hurting, the never ending everyday pain, Always being alone. I am tired of putting on the fake (im ok) face so people wont worry about me, and give me all the bullshit advice, when they have no clue of what this is like, what I am feeling. I cant help but feel i am being punished for something, but then I look at the boys and I know they have never done anything wrong so that cant be the case, because they are going through this with me. You should be here it is your job to be the father.Dakota isnt doing very good in school. I think it is because he doesnt know how to deal with you dying on us. he holds everything in and that is not good for him. Carson just tries to deal with our changing mood swings. I use to feel bad for him the most because he never got to meet you. Now I look at him and see how lucky he is that he dont have all this hurt and anger. Maybe i shouldnt be typing this right now because I am mad. But I have to tell you some how. I try so hard not to be mad at you but somedays that is to much. I hate to burden anyone with my feelings and that is what you were always here for ( to listen) but I dont feel that you are doing that anymore no matter how loud I scream.I have so much guilt for being mad at you. But I love you so much, and I am still so in love with you that the pain isnt getting any better. I miss you so much that my heart and my body aches for you. From day 1 I have needed you and yes I have made it a year and a half into it with out you,but I still need you. Dakota said that there are no computers in hevan so i shouldnt type to you, But i need to feel in someway that you hear me that you are with me so I type anyway.
I guess i am just tired Jess tired of trying to push you to the back of my mind so I can deal with everyday life.
Please know my anger fades and as mad as I am at times it is just because I love and miss you so much. I guess we all go through this when we lose loved ones. No matter how mad I get my feelings for you will never change, I just need to vent sometimes. Please forgive me. I guess I will go for now I have cried enough for one day.Please watch over us and from time to time let me know that you are still with me.If i cant have you I at least need that. I love you baby and my heart seems to be dying without you. Please help me be ok, I love you baby always have always will.
Love your wife Missy"
Missy Givens of Fountain Co. USA

"Missy,

Jesse was a wonderful person. I think about your loss all the time. I can only imagine how wonderful a father and husband he was, and would be. I have known Jesse and his brother, Reg, for about 20 years, they were like brothers to me. I wish I could tell you something that would make you feel better, but I am sure that is impossible.

Please let your entire family know that you are all in my families prayers.
Kirk Price & Jennifer Dunlop-Price

Jesse-

You are a wonderful person. I only wish I could have talked to you again. I am so glad that you are up in Heaven watching over all of us. Please take care. (My father always liked you and Reg. Tell him hi)

Love always
Jenn"
Jennifer Dunlop-Price of Nixa, MO

"Jesse Jesse,
Hi love sorry I have not wrote for awhile. Dakota and I went to Disney World We had a good time but we missed you like crazy.Spent way to much money lol but you knew that would happen. Fathers day came and went again as did the fourth of July. I dont know why the last so many months have been harder the the first couple.I have been so mad at you for leaving me, I dont want to be but I am. I know you are in a better place but I want so much for you to be here. Dakota wants to do Daddy stuff and I try but i am not good at any of that.
I took Carson to your grave and he knows which one is yours without me telling him. I would set him down and tell him to show me where his da da is, He would walk up to yours everytime and pat it saying da da da. Then he would sit down and clap for you. I try so much to hold on to everything for the boys. But it hurts so much to be in love with someone who is never coming home. I wish you could heal my heart somehow, maybe make it a little easier. Before we went on vacation I got into the drivers hole of a tank. I wanted to see what it was like for you.I wanted to feel what you felt. It messed me all up. I am so sorry for the fear you felt. So sorry for the pain you had thinking about not seeing us again.
I want you to know Burt is keeping his promise to you about taking care of me. His speeches are a little much sometimes and he pisses me off but he does make me think. Melissa Is keeping her promise to she is kinda like having you. I can say or do whatever and she dont judge me she just loves me and tries to help pull me through.
I miss you so much baby that my heart still breaks everyday. I know someday I will be with you but i would give anything to have you here with me now. Well baby I have to go pay a big pile of bills :-) I will try not to wait so long to write you back. Please know my heart is with you and I love you so much more then I ever took the time to say. I am trying my hardest to make you proud of me. and to make to boys never forget. Love always Your Wife Missy"
Melissa Givens of Fountain Co. USA

"It is June 17, 2004. Dennis is at work and I am here at home when I decided to pull up Jesse's site. It is now after 5pm and I cant seem to pull myself away. You see..Jesse was my stepson and we had so many happy times and I always felt so close to Jesse. I know it has been over a year but the pain of his loss does not get any better. I was able to spend time with Missy and Carson and Reg,Rhonda,Cortney,Dominick,and Nicloas and even though Jesse was not there physically...I just knew he was there. He must know how much we are all so proud of him and what a beautiful baby Carson is. You could see Jesse expressions & light shine out of his sons eyes. Missy is a wonderful mother and takes such good care of the boys. They are so blessed to have a mother like her. We will always be here for Missy and your sons Jesse. As your dad promised you....we will always be here to help let your family know they are not alone and never will be. The Givens family misses you Jesse Allen...and you are loved & missed...but always know your family is attached to the Givens and we will always be here to love and support. I love and miss you Jesse...I know you are with our lord now and with Quinn, Corry & Carrie's son they lost...take care of him & I will see you when I get there. I love you..... Gloria Givens"
Gloria Givens of JeffCity,MO, Cole

"I just located your website and I wanted to tell you how much my heart goes out to your family. I was with my daughter at the Arlington Cemetery on Memorial Day, when the President read a letter written by Jesse and I was deeply moved. It was not only well written, but to my surprise my son has the same name! Jesse C. Givens is 17 years old and he is one of the most gentle people you could ever know. My heart aches when I read Jesse A's letters. Please let Dakota know that Jesse's name goes on in California, he is a star baseball and football player. God bless you and your family! Thank you Jesse A. Givens for our freedom!"
Viviann Givens of Antioch, CA

"Melissa, I really don't even know what to say... I don't know you, Jesse or your babies. I received an e-mail about your husband almost a year ago & it was so heart wrenching I thought it was made up until I searched out a newspaper article from MO. I have made it a point to remember his name, his family & his sacrifice. I have a "Bean" too & she is 3 1/2. I wish I had some great wisdom to offer or something to say that could wipe away your pain. The only thing I have to offer is that I am greiving with you & I am so proud of your husband. My 2 children will grow up knowing who your husband is & what a great contribution he made to our country. I pray that you let God give you comfort in your pain & that you feel free to enjoy life without guilt. You and your husband are heroes."
Ingrid of Chugiak, Alaska

"Rest in Peace, you gave your life that we might have your freedom. You will be remembered for your sacrifice."
Doc of New York City

"In Loving Memory..Its been a year..

At the rising of the sun and at its going down, We remember them.
At the blowing of the wind and in the chill of Winter, We remember them.
At the opening of buds and in the rebirth of Spring, We remember them.
At the blueness of the skies and in the warmth of Summer, We remember them.
At the rustling of leaves and the beauty of Autumn, We remember them.
At the beginning of the year and when it ends, We remember them.
As long as we live, they too will live;
for they are now a part of us, as we remember them.
Rest in Peace Dear Soldier! We will NEVER FORGET!!"
The Grogan Family of Lakeland, TN (5/2004)

"I go to Baker Middle School. I am 12 years old. We are doing a project in social studies on the people who lost their lives. I am very sorry. I kind of know how you fell because my next door neighbor died in may. He died on the 22nd. I was so mad and upset. I was shaking and I couldn't sit still. When he died I went outside and started building my fort. When I get angry I build things and pounding nails in with the hammer makes my anger go away. I also called my best friend and told her and she came over to help me. She is my best friend ever and she helps me through the good times and the bad."
7th grade student of Barker Middle School

"Jesse Alen its been a year and this pain just wont go away. I just came back from Tablerock. Your brothers and I went fishing, I left a day early. You see everything at the lake reminded me of you. You loved to fish and run in the woods. I saw you everywhere so I came home and left it to the boys. I feel so old at times. Jesse I hope you know how proud I am of you. NOT for what you did or gave in Iraq. I'm proud because your a man that LOVED,CARED and TOOK CARE OF HIS FAMILY. You might be my best work. Son I love you and will always. I ended every letter to you with this (I know you never got them just pray some how you know). STAY STRONG AND BRAVE ; LOW AND SAFE ; AND KICK * !!!!! Jesse I got your back ! DAD"
DENNIS GIVENS of Jefferson city Mo cole

"Melissa, I went to high school with Jesse (Glendale 1987), and I want you to know that our entire high school graduating class has been mourning him since his death. I found this website today and have emailed the link out to other classmates. We all remember Jesse as a hero. I remember him being one of the nicest guys in our high school, always having a ready smile. The stories about him show what an amazing man he had become. I grieve your loss and congratulate you for the amazing job you are doing raising your two sons. Best wishes to you and God bless."
Janet Knopp Frick of Winterville, GA

"Melissa,

You don't know me, but I work with Dennis. Saturday, Dennis and I was standing in front of my unit talking about Jesse. As Dennis was talking, I could see the pride he had for his son and the sadness in his eyes for the loss. See I did not recall that that day was the one year anniversary of Jesses death. I will never forget it in the future. Dennis told me about the final letter, and as he did, he got all choked up, and so did I. You know where we work. Imagine 2 supervisors, a Luitenant and a Sergeant, in the place where we work, standing outside, both crying. I am not good with words, but I just needed to let you know I am so very sorry for your tremendous loss. My heart aches everytime I think about it. But at the same time I am so glad that there are men like Jesse. Not only was he protecting his family, he was protecting mine, and I will forever be grateful to him and his family for their sacrifice. Thank you. Thanks Dennis, and thank you Jesse for making sure me, my wife, and my kids go to bed at night and wake up in the morning, safe. I hope God has a special place in heaven for Jesse."
Steve White of Lebanon, Missouri

"Jesse, Hi baby I cant sleep, wishing so much that you were here.I cant believe that you have been gone a year. And I still cant figure out how I made it this far.
Everyone came over today,We sent you balloons, we hung out and talked about you. It helps to have your friends around. When I look at them I can see there pain but they try so hard to be strong for me. I wish i knew what to do for them, Someway to help them ease the pain and guilt.But it is hard to ease my own.I try so hard to see this from everyones side and try to consider the pain they are feeling.I look at the boys and i have no idea how to help them because I always had my father, i think about your parents but I have never lost a child,Your brothers but I still have all my siblings.Your crew yes I have lost some wonderfull friends but never when i was there and helpless. You affected so many people in life and in death. The loss is so great for so many. I have sat and listened to Chip and Burt I know that you wanted them to tell me that you love me and for Burt to take care of me. they are about as lost as i am when it comes to trying to make it easier but they try. I can see so much pain in Chrises eyes when he looks at us he wanted so bad to bring you home to us safe.He tries to play with the boys to ease there pain.
I look back on the last year and think about all the times I was sure I couldnt go on. It was so hard to know that you were never coming home, I would never feel you sleep beside me, never feel your kisses and hugs, never again feel as safe as I felt when you were with me. I miss you breathing on the back of my neck while you slept.I miss my protector the one person in this world that I ment everything to.I have never been so loved and so blessed.I wish we had more time, more years. I get so mad that god gave you to me but then took you away so soon. Why, why did he take my only love, my babies daddy the one person that I need.All day I have thought about the two soldiers standing on our porch just three short weeks after you left. And i have been wondering what is the reason in all this? I know it is not for me to know. But I still wonder. There has been so many times that I thought if I go to sleep I will wake up and it will all have been a bad dream. But it never happens. I wake up and i am still alone.I love you baby and I miss you so much. Please help me stay strong. you were always the one that picked me up.Help ease the pain in all of our hearts. I have to go my love.until next time know that you are on my mind all the time and you are forever in my heart.
Love your wife"
Missy Givens of Fountain Co, USA

"Jess,

I cannot believe that nine years has passed since you first walked into my life. I will never forget seeing you walk by the door with your jet black hair and a grin that I wish I could bottle. You were one of the greatest men I have ever known, and continue to be one of the closest friends I could ever hope to have. We went through a lot together. You shouldered a lot of burdens that were not yours to carry. Your love and strength carried me, and in a lot of ways, still do. I will never forget my 21st birthday, our all nighters at Steak and Shake, the days in the gym.

Some nights I find myself talking to you in my dreams. I know when they're happening that you're no longer here, but I let the dream continue because it's the only way I can still talk to you.

I hurt so deeply for you and your family. Your babies are so beautiful. Your wife brought so much more love to your heart. I believe your strength continues in her.

What I wouldn't give to have the last nine years to do all over again. One third of my life I had the opportunity to know and to love you. Of course there are things that I would do differently, but there are so many more things, good and bad, that I would never change.

I love you. I miss you. Thank you for being my friend. I will carry our memories in my heart until we meet again."
Blu of Joplin, Missouri

"Missy, Dakota and Carson,
I want you to know that your husband and father was so in love with the three of you. My brother only wanted one thing and that was the three of you. He would have done anything to have his family and to protect them, love them and be with them. Be proud and know that God is with him and with the three of you. "Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends." John 15:13
I love you three as my brother does.

Mom,
I don't know what to say, except that I love you. Our Jesse was our bond, the glue that held us together, forever it seemed as if it was just the three of us. I want so much to fill that hole in your heart to be what Jesse was, I know that it is not possible and that that hole will be with both of us. Search your heart and you'll find the memories and laughter that Jesse gave us and know that he is in a place where pain is not felt and suffering is unheard of, he is surrounded by love and waits for the rest of his family to join him. I pray for you every day to find the peace to ease the pain.
I love you

Dad,
I know that you want everyone to know the Jesse that was not the soldier, but the Jesse that was the son, the brother, the husband and the father. Jesse was all the above and more he was the life that lit up our lives, he was the boy whose laughter could make the world smile, he was a poet, a painter, he was honor and loyalty, and he was our hero. God bless you and Gloria.
I love you.

My brother's,
I love each of you the way I love Jesse and want you all to know that he thought the world of all of you. Joel, he could not have been more proud of you and the person you ha become I hope that you can understand that though he didn't get to be around you much that he thought the world of you. Scooter, he was proud of you as well for all the adversity you have come through and the life and family you have created. Be strong and know that he is there for you to lean on when things get tough. Corry, you were the first little brother for my little brother, he loved your energy, and playfulness, the two of you together could were dangerously fun, he loved you and your family very much.
I love you all and your families.

Jesse,
I apologize for the time we didn't talk, my pride got in the way. Not very often does an older brother look up to a younger brother, but I did. You are my hero, and I will never forget you. I think about you every day, just as you did with everyone you knew you made me look at life a little different. I'm a better father because of you, a better husband, and a better person. I miss you so much. I miss our late night discussions of politics, law, football and war. On this day one year after your death, I still feel so empty. I want one more day to tell you I love you, to hug you, to tell you I'm sorry, to forgive you. You are missed, and I am so proud of you. Half-Court sends her love as does Rhonda, Dominick and Nicolas. One day we will be together again in the home of our Father God. God bless your family and the men you served with.
Your Brother,
Reg Givens"
of Lamar, MO

"Denny and Gloria my thoughts, love, and prayers are with you today. May you feel the love and peace that passes all understanding of our Heavenly Father today.

Jesse, we love and miss you. We find comfort in knowing we will one day see you again. We remain proud of your service and humbled by your sacrifice."
Will Hobart of Columbia, MO

"Missy, Dakota, Carson, Reg, and Connie my thoughts, love, and prayers are with you today. May you feel the love and peace that passes all understanding of our Heavenly Father today.

Jesse, we love and miss you. We find comfort in knowing we will one day see you again. We remain proud of your service and humbled by your sacrifice."
Will Hobart of Columbia, MO

"Jesse,
I did not know you but I know your family well. Today, 1 year ago the hell began. I find myself extremely upset today. Maybe its because I can just sense the pain your family feels in their hearts. Or maybe its cause its saddens me to think of what you went through for all of us. I don't know why I am sad, I just am. Maybe since I am so sad, I am taking some of your familys pain off them, so it isn't so rough for them today. I could only hope so. I know you and Micheal sent Missy and I to each other~ Thank You. I will do my best, from 1,500 miles away to be a good friend and stay close to her! I will also watch your sons grow up to be like their daddy. I will think of you and your family today, as I always do. Just remember how much you are loved and thought about."
Christine of Pa

"We NEVER forget!
Please KNOW so many people share your sadness, and we are remembering your family in your loss and your deep grief. Your HERO, Jesse will be remembered by name. Our thoughts and prayers continue to be with you. God Bless you. Pat & Sandi Breckenridge from Montana "

"Reading his last message to you I can only wipe away tears for such a great man and soldier. I wish for you all the greatness he saw in you and your life together and then some. Your sacrifice and his is so great and I can only say thank you. Peace be with you as I know he is watching over you always."
Shannon L Deese of Jacksonville NC

"Private Givens, goodbye soldier and thank you. You are my hero."
Bill of Houston, Texas

"Melissa, just finished reading your story and the letters Jesse wrote to you. I just wanted say my heart goes out to you and to your 2 boys. I am the father of 3 sons, 2 served in the Army, the other in the Air Force. I am so thankful to have them, but I always knew that anything can happen at any time and that I was so proud of them and the time they gave for the freedoms we enjoy. Jesse gave his all, he is a true hero, dying that I and my family may enjoy freedom, peace and the joy of life. I pray, that you and your sons are comforted with his memories and they grow to be so proud of their Dad. God's blessings to you and your family. And Melissa, thank you for your sacrifice of giving also, being the wife of a soldier is also a hero's job. Please do well and hug those boys as much as you can. Thank you!!"
Dave Haislett of Wichita, Kansas

"Jesse, Hey baby today was your birthday.
HAPPY BIRTHDAY!! We got you a cake and Dakota blew out your candles for you. He wished for you to come home. I told him you were here just in a different way.We blew up balloons and sent them to you. We didnt have 35 but we sent you 26 sorry. We missed you so much. I wish you could have been here. Carson even had some cake it was cute he had it all over him.
He thinks he is a dare devil and he wants to climb everything. He reminds me so much of you. The boys always make me feel better. And knowing you are here with us. That helps to. Well baby I wanted to say that we love you so much and we hope that no matter where you are at we hope you had a great birthday. We miss you my love and cant wait for the day we can see you again.
lots of love forever, Your wife and boys"
Melissa Givens of Fountain Co. USA

"Melissa,
I wanted to tell you that I read Jesse's letter and I am very sorry. I was doing a project on the soliders who died in Social Studies. I picked Jesse. I read the letter you wrote to him too and I am so sorry. I have a friend over in Iraq right now. He is coming home tomorrow. He told me that his helicoptor got shot down. I am sorry that my friend can come home and Jesse can't. But actually he is there with you right now. And I wanted to tell Dakota that he is a strong little boy. And can you tell him that his daddy was a nice man and he shared it with your family. I was wondering if you could tell Carson that his daddy loved him and he didn't leave because he wanted to he left because he was standing up for his country. I know how you feel because my next door neighbor died and he was my everything. He made me confident in myself. Another thing that happened was my dog ran away. He used to always sleep with me he would cuddle with me when I was sad. I thank jesse for standing against our enemies and I also thank him for protecting our country and the country we love!"
Michelle of Barker, N.Y.

"Missy,Dakota,And Baby Carson,
It's almost March 11th, Jesse's birthday. It was a year ago that day, that I called him. He told me he believed in our country and what we were doing in Iraq, he felt we were giving them freedom,and he was proud to be a soldier. He also said, he'd be lying to say he wasn't a little bit afraid, but he was saved and Jesus would be with him. It has been a long hard year for all of us who lost Jesse. I think about that phone call alot, I'm so glad I made it. He lifted me up so much that day, his last birtday. God bless you Missy, and yes, Dakota your Daddy is waiting for you in heaven and he is forever young. Do you know Jesus has an army of his own, I bet Jesse is already a General! I Love you guys, Aunt Susie"
Susie Swartz of Verona, IL, USA

"I don't even know where to begin. Melissa, you are definitely one strong individual. I have four children myself and the fourth was born while my husband was home on mid-tour from Korea. He was here for two weeks before leaving again. Although, I was able to have him home again in six months it was rough. When I read Jesse's letter to you and Carson and Dakota it was almost like reading a letter my husband wrote to me. I have also found my true love and soul mate. My husband was sent to Qatar from August-November 2002 and made it home in time for the holidays. After reading this memorial and Jesse's letter and your letter to him, I now will appreciate my husband more and not let the little things bother me that had before. Thank you so much for helping me open my eyes to see what was right in front of me all along.
Carson & Dakota: You are two very lucky boys, although you may not have your father with you physically, you two will always have a special angel watching over you. Your daddy will continue living in the two of you. I'm sure as you two get older you will fight and argue (as my two boys do) but always remember you two have a special bond that no one can ever break and a special angel above. Take care of your mother always and stay strong..
Jesse: You have paid the ultimate sacrifice to your country. You have helped give freedom my four children and your wife and two boys can continue to enjoy. Know that your boys and wife are being strong and continue with your life. You were very brave for believing in America after 9/11 and remember your life will never fade away and you will NEVER BE FORGOTTEN!!!!!!"
Joni L. Beratto of Luke AFB, Arizona USA

"I want to start this off by saying thank you Jesse, and I am sorry. I am sorry I made it home, and hundreds of services members like myself never did. I am a 19kilo just like you ARE! It hurts to see a brother in arms pass and it hurts me even more that a fellow Armor Crewmember passes. We Tankers are special! It takes a special person to opperate "The Beast" (M1 Tank)
To your family I salute them all! My youngest son was born while I was in Kuwait, so this all seems to familiar. Before I left I told my Oldest son that if I don't return, I will never die becuase I would live through My Boy's. So to your boys, you will always live though them, no matter what you will always live! Soldier's Don't Die.... We Just fade Away! Again thank you and Just know Your my Hero! (w/a Salute)

Soldier Hard............OUT!"
Sgt. J.Barillaro 19Kilo of Ft Hood Texas H/T California

"Melissa,
I just wanted to offer you my condolences. I have viewed this website many times and you always seem to stick out in my mind. I guess it is because you are so brave and strong. When I read Jesse's letter, I just sat in front of my computer and cried. It seems like he was an awesome man! Even though I am sure each day is tough, I admire you so much for being such a strong person and for teacing Dakota & Carson about who their Daddy was and how much he will always love them. My husband is a Sergeant in the Marine Corps. Even though I can only imagine what you must be going through, I just wanted to let you and the boys know that you have my sincerest condolences and that you all are in my thoughts and prayers. To Jesse, thank you for making the ultimate sacrifice. You will never be forgotten. Rest in Peace."
Sarah Hurst of Parris Island, South Carolina

"Jesse,
Hey baby.
Yesterday we hit our ninth month since you were taken from us. Just when I think it is going to get a little better it starts to hurt so bad again.I am still not sure how I have made it this far but I know you and know that you are pushing me along. Sometimes it gets so hard when I am looking at the two small faces of your little boys. Dakota misses you so bad he tells me stories about what if daddy was still alive. That hurts so bad but I listen to him and tell him how nice that would be. He misses you so much.
Carson is 8 months now he is trying to walk and he crawls so fast sometimes it is hard to keep up.He looks more and more like you everyday. I want to thank you so much for giving him to me, for giving me one last piece of you. He has started saying da da da so I pick him up so he can see your picture and I tell him that you are his dadda and how much you love him and his brother. You know I will do everything in my power to make sure they know how much they mean to you. I wish so much that you could be here with us and it hurts my heart that you cant be. I never thought in a million years that something would happen to you. I guess I took it for granted that you would always be with me.
I want so much when I see other soldiers coming home to still have hope that you will come home to. I know better but it never hurts to dream. You were all my dreams come true and it is hard to accept that our time together is over. I can not even put into words how much I miss you. I set here and think, that in my heart I know how much you loved me and I hope so much that you knew how much I loved you to. I start to cry and my heart breaks because I know I was not always good at showing you my feelings and now I wish I could. Please know that I love you and I will never stop loving you. I will remember you and our time together forever and I do consider myself so lucky most people never find true love and I know I did.Dakota and I talk about heaven and I tell him you are there waiting for us, he wanted you to ask God that when he gets to go there if he can be a little boy again so you can play with him and give him piggy back rides. He also ask if they have parks there so the two of you can play. He told me that he was sorry he wasnt being good the last time you took him to the park. I tell him its ok and you understand but if he wants he can tell you when he gets there.Well my love through my tears I cant see to type anymore. Just know I miss you and love you in my heart, my mind and my soul.I cant wait to be with you again.And yes I forgive you for leaving me alone. I know it was not your choice because if it was you would have never left me.
Love forever your wife Melissa"
of Fountain Co. USA

"To all the people that have helped us since Jesse passed away I would like to say thank you.At the time of his death I was in a bad place and didnt keep track of the wonderfull things people did for us.I was trying to pull myself together for myself and my boys.But as time has gone on I wanted all of you to know that we thank you so much for the thoughts, prayers, gifts, help, and support everyone gave us. And as most of you told me Jesses sacrifice would not be forgotten I want you to know that the things you did for us will never be forgotten either. Again thank you all very much for everything."
Melissa, Dakota and Carson Givens of Fountain Colorado USA

"PATHS WIDE
TODAY WAS SAD FOR ALL,
FOR ANOTHER HERO DID FALL.
IN A LAND FAR AWAY,
FOR FREEDOM HE DID PAY.
GAVE HIS LIFE WITH NO SHAME'
HIS DEATH A EVIL MAN TO BLAME.
HOME COMES THE HERO TO FACES SAD,
BUT THEY KNOW HE GAVE ALL THAT HE HAD.
A FLAG GIVEN TO ONES LOVED TRUE,
THE COLORS OF RED, WHITE, AND BLUE.
WE NOW MOURN THAT DEPARTED SOUL,
TO EASE THE GRIEF OF FAMILY IS OUR GOAL.
FOR THEM OUR LOVE WILL ABOUND,
WHEN THAT LONELY BUGLE DOES SOUND.
NOW WITH OTHER HEROES DOES HE RESIDE,
AND TREADS IN HEAVEN ON PATHS WIDE."

"FREEDOM IS NOT FREE
I WATCHED THE FLAG PASS BY ONE DAY. IT FLUTTERED IN THE BREEZE. A YOUNG AIRMAN SALUTED IT, AND THEN STOOD AT EASE.
I LOOKED AT HIM IN UNIFORM, SO YOUNG, SO TALL, SO PROUD, HE'D STAND OUT IN ANY CROWD.
I THOUGHT HOW MANY MEN LIKE HIM HAD FALLEN THROUGH THE YEARS.
HOW MANY DIED IN FOREIN LANDS, HOW MANY MOTHERS TEARS? HOW MANY PILOTS PLANES SHOT DOWN? HOW MANY DIED AT SEA?
HOW MANY FOXHOLES WERE SOLDIERS GRAVES?
NO FREEDOM IS NOT FREE!
I HEARD THE SOUND OF TAPS ONE NIGHT WHEN EVERYTHING WAS STILL.
I LISTENED TO THE BUGLER PLAY AND FELT A SUDDEN CHILL.
I WONDERED JUST HOW MANY TIMES TAPS HAD MEANT 'AMEN'. WHEN A FLAG HAD COVERED A COFFIN OF A BROTHER OR A FRIEND.
I THOUGHT OF ALL THE CHILDREN, OF THE MOTHERS, THE WIVES;
OF THE FATHERS , SONS, AND HUSBANDS WITH INTERRUPTED LIVES.
I THOUGHT ABOUT THE GRAVEYARDS AT THE BOTTOM OF THE SEA, OF UNMARKED GRAVES IN ARLINGTON;
NO FREEDOM IS NOT FREE!"

"REMEMBER..
IT IS THE SOLDIER,NOT THE REPORTER,
WHO HAS GIVEN US FREEDOM OF THE PRESS.

IT IS THE SOLDIER,NOT THE POET,
WHO HAS GIVEN US FREEDOM OF SPEECH.

IT IS THE SOLDIER NOT THE CAMPUS ORGANIZER, WHO HAS GIVEN US THE FREEDOM TO DEMONSTRATE.

IT IS THE SOLDIER WHO SALUTES THE FLAG.
AND WHOS COFFIN IS DRAPED BY THE FLAG.
WHO ALLOWS THE PROTESTER TO BURN THE FLAG."

"I read the letter that Jesse wrote to his family and I just wanted to say that I am so sorry for your loss. He seemed like a wonderful man, husband and father. This story has touched my heart,my thoughts and prayers are with you and your family."
Shelly of WI

"PFC Givens - Thank you. YOU WILL NOT BE FORGOTTEN.

Mrs. Givens - Bless you for laying so costly a sacrifice upon the altar of freedom.

Dakota and Carson - Your father was a hero who died because he loved you, your mother and his country more than he loved his own life. As you miss him, always be proud."
Bill Stewart of Issaquah, WA USA

"Dear Melissa,
Here is a poem that was given to me many years ago. It is read at many funerals given for fallen Correctional Officers. I saw your story on the news, then read about you. Your story has really touched my heart.

Do not stand at my grave and weep.
I am not there, I do not sleep.
I am a thousand winds that blow.
I am the diamond glints on snow.
I am the sunlight on ripened grain.
I am the gentle autumn rain.
When you awake in the morning's hush
I am the swift uplifting rush
of quiet birds in circle flight.
I am the soft star that shines at night.
Do not stand at my grave and cry,
I am not there I did not die.

Take care and god bless. If you just need to talk, email trigg5@starband.net."
Paula Trigg of Hugo, CO United States

"I am soo very sorry for your loss. I read that letter here at work and just started crying. I was very touched by that. My thoughts and prayers are with your husband and your family and friends. If you ever need to talk feel free to email me. neonchik01@yahoo.com
We all need to stand united for our soldiers serving overseas"
AnnMarie Gochee of East Hartford,CT

"Thank you Jesse Givens, you will not be forgotten. Your bravery goes beyond words. I want to express my deepest gratitude for your sacrifice. To the family and friends, my prayers and deep condolences in your loss. May God strengthen you from knowing that fellow Americans and people around the world care about you and grieve with you in your loss. God bless you all. A very appreciative fellow American,"
Leo Titus of Grayslake, Illinios

"Melissa, my heart truly feels for you and your children. I am in the military and have three children. I believe I would do anything for them as Jesse has done for his. He is not forgotten and he does matter to us. Attached is a Christmas poem that I passed along on email to friends and family. It is something that I believe may be how Jesse felt. It means a lot to me as it may you.

The embers glowed softly, and in their dim light,
I gazed round the room and I cherished the sight.

My wife was asleep, her head on my chest,
My daughter beside me, angelic in rest.

Outside the snow fell, a blanket of white,
Transforming the yard to a winter delight.

The sparkling lights in the tree, I believe,
Completed the magic that was Christmas Eve.

My eyelids were heavy, my breathing was deep,
Secure and surrounded by love I would sleep

In perfect contentment, or so it would seem.
So I slumbered, perhaps I started to dream.

The sound wasn't loud, and it wasn't too near,
But I opened my eyes when it tickled my ear.

Perhaps just a cough, I didn't quite know,
Then the sure sound of footsteps outside in the snow.

My soul gave a tremble, I struggled to hear,
And I crept to the door just to see who was near.

Standing out in the cold and the dark of the night,
A lone figure stood, his face weary and tight.

A soldier, I puzzled, some twenty years old
Perhaps a Marine, huddled here in the cold.

Alone in the dark, he looked up and smiled,
Standing watch over me, and my wife and my child.

"What are you doing?" I asked without fear
"Come in this moment, it's freezing out here!

Put down your pack, brush the snow from your sleeve,
You should be at home on a cold Christmas Eve!"

For barely a moment I saw his eyes shift,
Away from the cold and the snow blown in drifts,

To the window that danced with a warm fire's light
Then he sighed and he said "Its really all right,
I'm out here by choice. I'm here every night"

"It's my duty to stand at the front of the line,
That separates you from the darkest of times.

No one had to ask or beg or implore me,
I'm proud to stand here like my fathers before me.

My Gramps died at 'Pearl on a day in December,"
Then he sighed, "That's a Christmas 'Gram always remembers."

My dad stood his watch in the jungles of 'Nam
And now it is my turn and so, here I am.

I've not seen my own son in more than a while,
But my wife sends me pictures, he's sure got her smile.

Then he bent and he carefully pulled from his bag,
The red white and blue... an American flag.

"I can live through the cold and the being alone,
Away from my family, my house and my home,

I can stand at my post through the rain and the sleet,
I can sleep in a foxhole with little to eat,

I can carry the weight of killing another
Or lay down my life with my sister and brother

who stand at the front against any and all,
to ensure for all time that this flag will not fall."

"So go back inside," he said, "harbor no fright
Your family is waiting and I'll be all right."

"But isn't there something I can do, at the least,
"Give you money," I asked, "or prepare you a feast?

It seems all too little for all that you've done,
For being away from your wife and your son."

Then his eye welled a tear that held no regret,
"Just tell us you love us, and never forget"

To fight for our rights back at home while we're gone.
To stand your own watch, no matter how long.

For when we come home, either standing or dead,
To know you remember we fought and we bled

is payment enough, and with that we will trust.
That we mattered to you as you mattered to us."
Debra Henderson of Fort Worth, Texas

"Dear Melissa,

This letter is to let you know of the pride I have for you as a woman, a wife and most of all a Mother. Your job is the greatest of all Ė and is the hardest of all. The loss of your husband, Jesse, through his pledge, his honor and heroism, has now lead you to a new place in your life. Your Life now is to be the shinning beacon and strength for your children and yourself.
As you go forward, your own accomplishments and teachings will be learned by your sons, and rejoiced in them. Know that God will continue to honor your Life, your good heart and those of your sons.

As for us, who are deeply trying to understand your sorrow, we know your work is just beginning. That as a "Light" in their lives, that your sons will follow by example, and the path you take forward and into the future. Their lives will be forever influenced by their loving Mother.

By far, the greatest gift any man can give is to lay down his life for his country and another.
Your husband, Jesse did this unselfishly, and is not forgotten. You will keep his memory strong for his sons, and grandchildren to come.
Please know in your heart, that Jesse is no longer in harms way, and is safe now. Jesseís is in the presence of GOD.
And even now, He will help guide you, and the boys in all things.
Jesseís caring nature, loving and good heart, his true strengths, will be renewed through you and the boys.

Your path is to remain loving, kind, truthful, diligent, and strong. And to listen to your inner voice; the one God has placed in your heart, to guide you on your way.
Know the boys will learn by your kind examples, teachings, loving words and your deeds. Through you, they will find the light of Godís love and right pathway in their lives.

May God Bless You
Melissa, Dakota and Carson Givens.

Much Love,

Janet Wallace
Portsmouth RI.

(PS.) I work for the Navy in RI.

Date: 12/28/03 Sunday 10:29 AM."
Jan Wallace of Portsmouth RI

"Reading the last letter Jesse wrote, touched my heart and made me cry. I understand more than you may know how much you have been going through. I am so sorry that this had to happen to you, but I know you have dealt with it all the best that anyone can. My prayers are with you and your two little boys. Forever will he be survived just in them. I thank Jesse for going to war and fighting for all of us back home. A fallen soldier who meant the world to many people and touched many peoples hearts, even people who didn't know him. It all means alot."
Kristina of Woonsocket, RI

"The story of Jesse's Letter really tore at my heart. I just sat there and cried for his wife, kids and other family members. I want them to know my thoughts are with them now and always. I also want the rest of the soldiers and their families to know that my thoughts and prayers are with them also. May God bless the Givens family and all the other families who are effected by these wars."
Katrina Otto of Westminster, CO

"Melissa, I could never say thank you enough for everything you have done for us since Jesse died You are so much more then I could ever ask for in a friend. I am not sure if I would have made it this far without you. I to wish we could have gotten this close for different reasons. But I know Jesse wanted us to be the way we are. Promise or not. He thought you were a wonderful women and he said you know how to get things done. I know sometimes you have your own pain with Chris still being far away in harms way. And i know you try not to bring it up to me so much because you dont want to hurt me. But that is what friends are for and you have been the best friend I could have gotten through all this. So I am here for you as well anytime, for any reason. We love you more then we could ever show you but as long as I am breathing I will try to show you what you and your friendship means to me.Lots of love, Melissa, Dakota, and Carson Givens"
Melissa Givens of Fountain Co USA

"Missy,
I have thought a lot about what I wanted to write on here to you but I just can't seem to find the right words. From that first day in May a hug seemed to say so much more than words ever could. I know how much Jesse loved you and the boys. I wish you could have seen his face when he would talk about the three of you. I also know he will always be with you and the boys and will watch over you always. I donít say it much but I hope through my actions you know how much you and the boys mean to me. There isnít anything I wouldnít do for you. I will always be there for you through the good days and the bad. The three of you are family. There is no getting rid of us now. :) I wish we would have become close like we are now under different circumstances but I so am grateful for our friendship. I know friendship like ours donít come along every day. You have become the sister I never had. I love you guys. Love, Melissa"
Melissa Fleisher of Colorado Springs, CO

"My son, Spc. Darrell Smith, was with Jesse in Iraq. He speaks of the loss of a wonderful friend and brother. Jesse touched my son's life and has made Darrell a better man for knowing him. Darrell reminded me that it was Jesse who would go out of his way, to pick him up at the airport and the bus station when he returned to Colorado from a trip home. The sadness in our hearts can not be put into words. Jesse is a hero in our hearts. God bless you and your family and may God ease your pain."
Bonita of Bloomfield, Indiana

"Melissa,Jesse's letter was read at our church service yesterday. All I can say is, "Wow!" what a wonderful man he was! He was so proud of his family and so in love with you! I am so sorry for your loss but Jesse will live in all of our hearts for eternity! Blessings to you and your boys. Please find comfort in knowing that Jesse is still with you and watching over you."
Alison S. of Kentucky

"Thank you everyone that has wrote on here about my husband. He was a wonderfull husband and father the best in my eyes. I shared Jesses letter so everyone could get a look at what kind of man he really was. Words can not say how much he touched my life. And from reading the things that people wrote on here, I know he touched others as well. Thank you again for writing your thoughts on here. I read this site when I am feeling down and it always lifts me back up to see the respect others have for the man I loved and lost."
Melissa Givens of Fountain Colorado USA

"Missy,
I am so happy we became friends but wish we had met in a different way. I know Micheal and Jesse wanted us to be friends too. I am always here for you no matter what..forever.
Dakota, Carson and the rest of the Givens family...I am so happy to be a part of your family now! Hope to see you all again soon.
Love,"
Christine Dooley of Murrysville, Pa

"Dearest family of Private Givens, may I speak deepest condolences and sympathy from Germany as well. Your husband's bravery is appreciated beyond words. I will light a candle and pray for you. May it be comfort that so much of his life remains in you while he is needed by God in heaven. With my sincere respect for you, Maria"
Maria Daehn of B Oeynhausen, Germany

"To Jesse's Family
I know that I am so very far away but when I read this my heart broke a million time over. He was a hero a million times a hero. He was brave and with a lot of courage. Look to the stars and the heavens and you will see him there with them. He is there with God looking down on all of us and doing what he done so well and that is protecting all of us. He is in a wonderful place and he will meet you there with his wonderful family some day. May God comfort you and give you strength for that day. May God Bless You"
Wanda Rogers of Manchester,Tenn

"To Melissa and her family,
I know I am very far way but I am a supporter, and all I can say your husband is a great man. Not only is he a hero, but you, Melissa and your babies are heroes too."
L. A. of Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

"My heart aches for PFC Givens and his family..."
Mike of Sacramento Ca

"I read this letter in the NY Times today, and could not stop crying. Putting names and faces to the veterans makes it a thousand times more real. I have always been against this war -- not against the soldiers -- but for their reasons for being there. This letter has fueled my emotions even more. I can't express how much his letter meant to me. His family, and the entire country, has lost a remarkable man. To his family, I am so sorry for your loss. Please know that his story has inspired me, and, undoubtedly, so many others."
Kate of Boston, MA

"I was deeply moved by this soldier's final letter to his family, which I read in today's New York Times. I am saddened by the ending of his life, while I greatly admire what was surely his sublime sense of duty. I am reminded today, on what we now call Veteran's Day, of the final line in the inscription on the British Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, which is in Westminster Abbey and was installed on Armistice Day, 1920. The line reads: "They buried him with the kings because he had done good toward God and toward his house." PFC Givens was surely such a man."
Robert Ballou of Atlanta

"Dearest Melissa. Words cannot describe how much your husband's last letter affected me. Your husband was a true hero. Thank you for sharing it with us. God bless you."
Maria of Massachusetts

"The best way we can honor Jesse is to help support the family he loved so much & left behind. Please let me know where we can send a donation for Melissa and her two beautiful boys. I did not support this war but I completely support our brave soldiers and their families! Please send information on where I would send a donation to me at melindafla2003@yahoo.com."
Melinda of Pensacola, FL

"I never met or knew Jesse, but the letter he wrote that was published in today's New York Times (Veteran's Day 2003) moved me beyond words.

It was a letter that was to be delivered only in the event of his death, and in it he addressed his loved ones. I feel honored to have read his words, to have been given a small peek into his life---it moved me to tears just reading it, so I can't imagine the unspeakbale grief those who knew and loved him must be feeling. So please know that complete strangers are aware of your loss, and that you are in our thoughts and prayers.

God Bless."
Dave of New York

"Melissa, as a husband, father of two and former servicemen, I want to thank you for sharing that letter w/ me and the world. That was probably the most eloquent and insightful letter i have ever read. It brought me to my knees. I am heartfully sorry for your loss, but i hope you know that your husband's letter gave something to every mom and dad in this great country; it showed us how to love a little bit more and it showed me how to be a true dad ( and i thought i already knew how). Your letter is now posted on my office wall as a reminder, something to shout out at me "stop it" when i sweat the small stuff or stay late when i don't really need to.
So you know, tonight and every night from now until the day I pass i will give my wife, my boy and my girl hugs and kisses and then i will go outside and look at the stars and think of Jesse, You, Dakota and Carson...and whisper "Thank You and may God bless you"."
Rowland Wilhelm of Cranford, NJ

"as a combat veteran who survived, I read your husband's message in today's New York Times. He said it all for me. What a wonderful man, and how lucky he was in his family. Best wishes, John Watt"
John Watt of 15R Sargent St., Cambridge, MA, 02140

"Melissa,
Your last letter from Jesse is important to all who lose someone since it was obviously so heartfelt. You ar kind to share it and may you continue to experience the never ending love of your Jesse."
Mike Donnelly of Lawrenceville, NJ

"God bless the Givens family."
Will Daley of Ottawa, Ontario

"I also read Jesse's letter in the NY Times today and was moved by his love for his family and his sacrifice for his country. Our thoughts and prayers are with your family today."
Michael of New York, NY

"I just finished reading the letter from Army Pfc Jesse Givens in the New York Times today. Thank you for allowing us to see just what character and bravery your husband exemplifies.... you are in our prayers"
Rick of Pensacola, FL

"Andrew,Thank you for your thoughts it has been a tough 6 months.My boys get me through a lot. Jesses love gets me through everything. I know how wonderfull he was and how much he belived in what he was doing. He thought everyone should have freedom."
Melissa Givens of Fountain Co

"Melissa,
A lot of people talk about sacrificing for our country. You know what that means more than most. I served with the 10th Mountain Division in Somalia, and remember all too vividly the pain that sacrifice exacts from the family of servicemembers who fall on the battlefield. Now that I have two little ones, stories like yours have an even more profound impact on me and my heart goes out to you, Dakota and Carson. May the Lord look upon you with favor and comfort you as you push ahead. God bless you and your little ones."
Andrew of Milwaukee, Wisconsin

"Melissa and Family
I know it's been a few months since Jess was taken from you, but I still feel as though you still need prayers and faith, knowing that Jess did the right thing. As far as I understand,he loved you all very much. Melissa, I am an old friend of Jesse's from high school. I would like to send you and your precious boys a prayer that you will one day see him again. You are in my thoughts and wish you a happy life with many blessings. If you ever decided to move back to Missouri, I would love you meet you, just ask Connie how to get a hold of me. I have a son the same age as Dakota. May you have a wonderful life, knowing that you were blessed by having Jess in your life, He touched my heart tremendously and everyone who he came in contact with. He will definately be missed. God Bless and take care."
Jennifer Moore-Davidson of Nixa, MO

"Kellie,Thank you Jesse always thought of you as the little sister he never had. I know you will forever be in his heart.And I know as he watches over the boys and I that he will watch over you as well.He always said someone needed to watch over you and he thought that was his job.He loved you I have thought about you alot since he was taken from us."
Melissa of Colorado Springs Co

"Melissa, I am truly sorry for your loss. I know he loved you with all his heart. Jesse was very close to me and will always remain in my heart. He was the big brother who always looked after me. I will always regret falling out of touch with you guys. I wish you and the boys the best in the future. You are in my thoughts and prayers."
Kellie Brumback of Wichita, KS

"Gretchen, please feel free to write me. Jesse told me so much about you and I know you had a place in his heart."
Melissa

"Melissa,

Jesse was my best friend during college. I've been struggling to try to find a way to contact either you or Reg to express my condolences. My heart aches for you and your family every day.

Jess was a great man and I regret that we fell out of touch. I knew he had found the person he had waited so long for once he found you. I would have loved to have met the person who affected him so greatly in such a short amount of time. I hope there is a way that I still may.

Jesse touched many lives, in so many ways. My heart and my hands are extended to you now and forever more."
Gretchen (Becker) Van Mater of Freehold, New Jersey USA

"To my baby boys;
There are so many things I want you to know about your daddy,and I will spend my life trying to make sure you know how much your daddy loves you and how much he never wanted to leave us.He has always been my hero,my best friend,and my soulmate.I hope the two of you have his big heart,his love for life,and his courage to always be yourself no matter what anyone else thinks.He will be as proud of you as we are of him if you stay true to yourselfs and live your lives to the fullest. Remember he will always be there watching over you.
Love your mom
Melissa"
Melissa Givens of Colorado Springs Co USA

"To All Who May Read This-

Let it be known that Jesse Givens was a noble and honorable soldier, a loving father and husband, a good and kind hearted friend, and a dignified man who put others before himself. May he always be remebered as such.

We, his family, will miss him here on earth and look forward to the day we may see him again in the home of our heavenly father.

Jesse, we are proud of your service and humbled by your sacrifice."
Will Hobart (Jesse's cousin) of Columbia, MO

"We thank you for the sacrafice Jesse made for us. Our prayers are with your family during this difficult time. Thank you brave soldier!"
Ken and Maritza Holley of Pembroke Pines, Florida

"To the family and friends of Pfc. Jesse Givens:
May God's grace be with you during your time of grief. Please know that our thoughts and prayers are with you and we feel your loss and share in your sorrow. Bless Jesse for the sacrifice he has made to make a better life for the rest of us."
The Ford Family of Wells, Nevada

"To the family and friends of Pfc. Jesse Givens:
I am saddened by the loss of your loved one. He will always be remembered as a hero for fighting for freedom. I hope that this website will be a source of comfort and encouragement for you during this difficult time, and in the future as you recall the memories of Jesse, who continues to live on in your heart."
Tim Rivera, of Powder Springs, Georgia

Honor them by remembering... Freedom - is their gift to us But his soul goes marching on