The letter sat on the dresser for four years.
Robert Gilbert never opened it. He only touched the envelope when he needed to dust around it. He wanted to give it back to his son unopened.
Every time his Marine son was deployed, his son would ask, "You still got my letter?"
His dad never wanted to read what was inside an envelope marked: "Dad, open this if I am wounded. Love, Robert."
The call to open it came March 8.
"Is Robert Gilbert there?" a voice from Marine headquarters in Quantico, Va., said.
"Junior or Senior?" Robert said.
The father felt his stomach drop even before he heard the words: "Your son has been injured in Afghanistan."
When he heard his son received "possibly a mortal wound," he sat on the bed, opened the yellow envelope and pulled out four handwritten pages of spiral notebook paper.
I'm sorry if you're reading this . . .
Just read: A father's promise, a son's sacrifice for his country.