Dearest Neighbor

by Felipa Salgado

Dearest Neighbor,

You, who will receive this, know that I am held here against my will. The restrictions here are unbearable; it takes the force of God to make my survival possible. The decided destiny of all those at Fort Dearborn is death unless we escape. I am writing this letter to you to appeal to your awareness of others who have been held there at Fort Dearborn, and who have gained freedom through death. These unmarked graves have received a forgotten existence.

Please, if you would permit me to entreat you with my own story.

It began without warning that we would be confined, only to face a brutal death. But only by faith and God’s love did I make my escape. The guards, on occasion, would ease the cold, rigid weather with the comfort of excessive elixir. So the opportunity did present itself to slip away in depths of the cold air that lashed and whipped me about but by God’s distinct direction held me on my course. There ahead of me I found a fallen tree, which beautifully provided me a welcoming shelter. As I began to feel the safety of this friendly tree, I heard voices. It sounded as if it were one of the camp soldiers seeking the affection of a lady. What would I do if they so choose my secret space to embrace a moment of love? What has happened, they have declared a more civil face, for the lady declares her desire for something better than outdoor woods. God has hid me well. Oh, faith has blanketed me to continue my escape. Stepping out there is a man with long, silly hair that sways in the wind and has offered me direction. He offers me rest and food. We have nothing in common, only the breath of air and love for life and people. Unable to speak with words, but silent in gestures, we are able to communicate. What shall I do but write you, Dear Neighbor, and appeal that together we can begin to build an intangible bond held by an addressed desire for peace?

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