Editor's note: On Oct. 13, Army Spc. Brittany Bria Gordon, an Army intelligence analyst, was killed when a suicide bomber attacked her unit in Kandahar, Afghanistan, becoming the first female soldier from Tampa Bay to die in the recent wars. This is a letter of thanks to the community written by her mother, Brenda Thompson Gordon, her grandmother Sarah Thompson, and her aunts Bernetta Thompson Blossom and Debbie Thompson.
Thank you from the entirety of my being. On behalf of my family please know that we feel compelled to give back as you all gave us so very much to hold on to during this difficult time. We really could not have made it this far without the magnitude of well-wishes, prayers, and acts of kindness, support and unsolicited gestures.
No matter what, know that I saw you and recognize you and your gifts.
• What appeared to be the entire MacDill family — I saw you.
• The men, women and children who lined Bayshore Boulevard with flags and banners — I saw you.
• Those of you who parked your cars on the side of the street, with your heads lowered and hands across your chest as you seemed to bear our pain, as we traveled to take Brittany's remains to her final resting place — I saw you.
• The many signs welcoming Brittany back home — I saw them.
• The Honor Guard, Buffalo Soldiers, Patriot Guard biking club and the lone flag-bearer at Eckerd College who came and stood with your flags to show support to our fallen angel, daughter and solider — I saw you.
• The many people lining the streets of St. Petersburg — I saw you.
• Pinellas County government/sheriff's bailiffs, court employees/representatives — I saw you.
• St. Petersburg High School — I saw you.
• Strangers — I saw you.
• To all the mothers praying along the route — I saw you.
• The city of St. Petersburg — I saw you.
• The Ghosthounds — I felt your strength and love.
• Eckerd College — for making Brittany's memorial celebrations a wonderful gift and honoring her life — a special thank you.
And finally — the USO who greeted us at every airport to ensure our needs were met. Making sure we had food and water. Thank you. The next time I see a family in the airport being escorted by uniformed military personnel and a USO volunteer I will know that the family lost a loved one.
We saw you and wanted you to know how much your presence meant to us. Though you may not have known Brittany, or our family, we appreciate your coming out to show your support, share your hearts and positive energy; it meant so much for us. I have never been so touched by the power of so many caring souls. This will carry us forward as we continue to deal with the difficult time ahead and know that Brittany touched so many lives. Thank you — I saw you.
There are not enough words that can be written to share how much your support meant to us or to express how much you kept us uplifted when we felt that we could not stand on our own. Thank you all for demonstrating that we all have more similarities, concerns and strengths than differences or weaknesses. I can only hope that I will be able to give back to you as you have given to me and my family. So please accept this heartfelt thank-you and know that you have made a difference in our lives.