Nancy Wilde receives a flag flown over Afghanistan from Sgt. Dustin Frey during a surprise presentation last Wednesday while her brother and sister-in-law, Richard and Barb Ringwelski look on.
Nancy Wilde receives a flag flown over Afghanistan from Sgt. Dustin Frey during a surprise presentation last Wednesday while her brother and sister-in-law, Richard and Barb Ringwelski look on.

“Dear American Hero,
“God bless you for serving our country. Because of you and your service, your courage, your bravery and valor, you protected our freedoms.
“Love, Nancy”
Nancy Wilde of Merrill can easily recite that heartfelt message, after writing it in more than 2,400 cards she’s sent to American military personnel this year.
On behalf of himself and all his fellow soldiers, Nancy’s nephew Daniel Ringwelski provided Nancy with a very special token of their appreciation. In a surprise presentation last Wednesday, Nancy was given a flag that was flown in her honor over the International Security Assistance Force’s headquarters in Kabul, Afghanistan.  
“Wow,” was all Nancy could say as more than two dozen of her family members, along with two local military officers filed into the Merrill Area Community Enrichment Center. Nancy thought she was there for a luncheon that had nothing to do with her.
In a statement read by his mother, Barb Ringwelski, Daniel said of his aunt Nancy: “She loves this country and all it represents and truly embodies the word ‘patriot’.”
Wausau-based recruiters, Sgt. Jacob Willard and Sgt. Dustin Frey, were contacted by Daniel Ringwelski to make the presentation. They told him they would be honored.
“She took so much time out for us, so we should do the same,” Frey said.
Willard added that cards of appreciation mean a lot to service members.
“I’ve probably gotten one from her,” he said. “Knowing somebody cares for you is just awesome.”
Nancy said she was inspired to start writing cards a few years ago because of her granddaughter, who serves in the Army and has twice been stationed in Afghanistan, and her three nephews who enlisted in the Air Force and Army. 
Nancy started by collecting cards from thrift stores, rummage sales and liquidation stores. With each passing year, the number of cards she sends has increased. She had reached 1,000 by September this year and as of last week had signed 2,414. 
She brings them to the Merrill Area Community Enrichment Center in shoeboxes, 500 at a time. The Enrichment Center mails cards to service members at Christmas and to local veterans’ homes for Memorial Day. Nancy has been by far the largest contributor to the center’s card writing efforts.
“I enjoy writing to servicemen,” Nancy said. “I’m sure when they’re off duty, they like mail from home.” Nancy added that she has gotten some thank you cards back from soldiers and veterans.
The Merrill Area Community Enrichment Center, located in the basement of Merrill City Hall, welcomes volunteers to help with the card writing project. For more information, contact the Center at 715-536-4226.