While Dave Wood spent two Christmases fighting in Vietnam, he never saw even one letter wishing him well from loved ones at home.
On Thursday, as part of a Lockport Salvation Army project to create what is being called the world's largest Christmas card, the Fairport veteran scripted a few words that will be sent to U.S. troops serving in Iraq.
It was a short message in black marker on white poster board, telling the soldiers to come home safe.
Wood said he knows how tough it can be for the troops to spend time away from loved ones, especially around the holidays.
"[It'll] make them feel a little better. That's all you can ask," Wood said.
Since last Friday, the Lockport Salvation Army has been collecting signatures on 26-by-40-inch pieces of poster board in the Wal-Mart on Transit Road.
Salvation Army officials expect to have more than 100 pieces of poster board, signed on both sides, when the collection ends Saturday.
The Salvation Army is partnering with the Army National Guard in Lockport, as well as the Air Force Reserve's 914th Airlift Wing and the State Air National Guard's 107th Air Refueling Wing, based at the Niagara Falls Air Reserve Station.
The card will be shipped to Iraq with the base's next deployment of troops, who are scheduled to head overseas before Christmas.
Lockport's Micro Graphics supplied the paper, will print a cover for the card and bind the pages together.
"We're calling it a Christmas card, but it's actually a book," said Major John Wheeler of the Salvation Army. The initial idea for the project called for signatures on a 4-by-8-foot piece of plywood. But that notion was nixed because of shipping restrictions, Wheeler said.
"This is a way for the American public, through the Salvation Army, to support the troops over there," Wheeler said.
The Salvation Army contacted representatives of the Guiness Book of World Records, who said they have nothing on record for the size of a Christmas card, he said.
Joanne Skop of Amherst believes it is important to show support for the troops at this time of year. Eula Collins of Gasport said she has a cousin from Texas who is serving in Iraq.
The troops should know what they're doing is appreciated, even though few people really know what it's like to be fighting so far away from home, Collins said.