By Robert Frank / Herald Writer
Snohomish Marine Cpl. Jeffrey Starr’s last letter to his girlfriend was read by President Bush on Wednesday in a major speech at the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Md.
The honor came on the six-month anniversary of the Marine’s death.
“He would have been proud to have the president talking about him. He would have liked that,” Starr’s mother, Shelly, said Wednesday night.
Starr was killed by a sniper May 30 while on a security patrol in Ramadi, Iraq. His story was first told in The Herald on Sept. 18
Starr’s last letter was discovered on his computer after his father, Brian, brought his son’s belongings home to Snohomish from Camp Pendleton, Calif. Jeffrey Starr had written the letter in November 2004 to his girlfriend, Emmylyn Anonical, 22.
“When I decided to share this letter, I didn’t imagine it would get to the president and that he would read his words to everybody,” Anonical said Wednesday night.
“Jeff believed what he was doing was the right thing to do. He died for a reason. It meant a lot that President Bush used his words to express everything.”
Bush defended his Iraq war strategy in the speech, in which he said that the once-shaky Iraqi troops are proving increasingly capable, a prerequisite for setting a timetable for U.S. troop withdrawals.
The family received a call from the White House on Monday requesting permission to use Starr’s letter. The family gave its consent.
Bush’s reading of part of Starr’s letter came near the end of his address:
“We pray for the military families who mourn the loss of loved ones. We hold them in our hearts – and we honor the memory of every fallen soldier, sailor, airman, Coast Guardsman and Marine.
“One of those fallen heroes is a Marine corporal named Jeff Starr, who was killed fighting the terrorists in Ramadi earlier this year. After he died, a letter was found on his laptop computer. Here’s what he wrote, he said, ‘If you’re reading this, then I’ve died in Iraq. I don’t regret going. Everybody dies, but few get to do it for something as important as freedom. It may seem confusing why we are in Iraq, it’s not to me. I’m here helping these people, so they can live the way we live. Not have to worry about tyrants or vicious dictators. Others have died for my freedom, now this is my mark.’”
Bush added, “There is only one way to honor the sacrifice of Cpl. Starr and his fallen comrades, and that is to take up their mantle, carry on their fight and complete their mission.”
Bush’s speech was the first of at least three he will give between now and the Dec. 15 Iraqi parliamentary elections.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.