Facebook posts can often be all too mundane and forgettable with meaningless messages and equally inane comments, but a recent post thanking a military mom for her son’s service is straight from the heart and striking a nerve as hundreds of thousands are commenting and sharing it.

Discovery Channel host, Mike Rowe, of “Dirty Jobs,” posted a letter from Diane Dodson whose son, Justin, is a special forces veteran now suffering from Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) – also known as “Lou Gehrig’s Disease,” a progressive neurodegenerative disease for which there is no cure.

Victims typically have less than five years to live after a diagnosis.

Rowe posted the letter Dodson wrote telling him that Justin, a fan of Rowe and his program, had been “brought to tears” after he received mail from the host of the popular show and then shared his own response to the mom.

The straightforward expression of humble gratitude in Rowe’s words to the “two parents who are watching their son die a slow and horrible death,” are not fancy or flowery, but deeply profound and bear repeating.

No wonder so many are sharing the post – making sure we are reminded of the debt of gratitude we Americans whose freedom has been secured by the service of others.

It’s a debt that can never be repaid.

The letter in full:

Dear Mike: I sit here in tears, because of you.

Our son Justin - a strong-willed, a special forces military man who fought in countries where most of us will never go, loves to watch and read about you. "Totally an admirable man." That’s what he always says about you.

Our son is dying from ALS. Later this afternoon, he had a horrible experience causing him great discomfort both physical and emotional. After a little time to calm down, and with the help of his girlfriend, they opened his mail, and found what you sent. It brought tears to his eyes just knowing you took the time out to acknowledge him.

So, from two parents who are watching their son die a slow and horrible death, brought on by defending our freedom in other countries, we send you our deepest gratitude.


Diane Dodson

Hi Diane,

I suspect words like “Merry” and “Happy” are difficult to hear at the moment, so I’ll forego the holiday greetings, and simply say “you’re welcome.”

I was very sad to learn of your son’s illness, and deeply humbled that a man like Justin finds me “admirable.” Please assure him the feeling is mutual.


The truth is, acknowledging Justin’s service is both an honor and a privilege. I know that my freedom and my liberty were bought and paid for by people like your son. I know his freedom is now being removed one day at a time. I know that his liberty is being slowly denied, by an enemy he cannot overcome.

I would like you to know, that your note reminded me of just how tenuous it all is. Our freedom. Our liberty. Our health. It’s all so fragile. And so damn easy to take for granted.

Sooner or later, our bodies will fail us. There are no exceptions. But what Justin did with his body while it was still in his control, has left me forever in his debt, and mindful of what matters most. Because ultimately, there is no greater threat to our freedom, than a lack of gratitude to those who provide it.

Your note is a reminder that acknowledging soldiers like Justin, requires me to count my many blessings, and vow to be a better version of myself. Actually Diane, it's more than a reminder – it's a gift. A gift from you and your son.

A gift for which we, the undersigned, are most grateful.


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