Just when you thought 7th Heaven had its fill of very special episodes, the WB family drama tackles a doozy: The current war on terror. Tonight, Ruthie (MacKenzie Rosman) discovers that her Marine pen-pal has been killed in Afghanistan — a fact-based storyline that recounts the death of Staff Sgt. Dwight J. Morgan.

"I looked at a list of the men and women who had been killed in the war against terror and I randomly picked one," executive producer Brenda Hampton explains to TV Guide Online. "Then, I approached the Marine Corps first and asked if they would be willing to help us with the episode, and they agreed. They put me in touch with [his] widow, and then I interviewed her.

"I wanted to do something," she adds of the tribute. "I think everyone wants to do something."

Although 7th Heaven has touched on the subject matter before — prior to Sept. 11, an episode addressed the Taliban's inhumane treatment of women — Hampton says this time it's different. "This is not really a story about a victim; this is a story about someone who volunteered to [serve] — and that puts a completely different feel on it for me," she admits. "It's hard to blend fiction with nonfiction in this type of story... but everything we say about Dwight Morgan is true, it's just the timeline and the story involving our family that's fictional."