To the brave men and women


I wrote this military tribute a couple years ago. I was at work one day just thinking about the drastic differences of my life compared to that of someone who serves in our military. Thank you is never enough.

 

Thank You Isn’t Enough
Copyright 2012 Chris Martin

It’s a typical morning. My dreams dissolve into the sound of two little girls running up and down the hallway. Birds chirp outside the window as golden sunlight trickles in through the half-open blinds. Wiping the sleep from my eyes, I greet my wife with a kiss and stumble into the kitchen. With the press of a button, frothy hot liquid pours into my mug. The aroma brings a smile to my face.

Thousands of miles away, a young man sits on the damp earth, trembling. Bombing continued throughout the night, shaking the very ground beneath him. His eyes burn from lack of sleep. He grips the M16 rifle across his lap with both hands as his thoughts drift away to a normal life he can barely remember. Tears dampen his face as he recalls the last words his mother spoke to him right before he left.

After hugging the wife and kids, I walk downstairs to my office, carefully sipping my coffee.  I sit in a very comfortable chair waiting for my computer to boot up so I can begin my work day. I look outside and watch in wonder as the day comes alive. Reaching beyond the trees, a hawk soars across the crisp blue sky that seems to go on forever. He dips toward the horizon where sky reaches down and kisses the earth.

A husband and father of two glances up, wishing the sun would break through the smoke and haze that surrounds him every moment. He ties the laces on his boots as he prepares for another day of work. He has been selected to go on patrol. They will search the face of everyone they meet, looking for signs of friend or foe. Two weeks ago, one of their own was killed when a thirteen year old boy tossed a grenade across their path. He pulls out a picture of his wife and two little girls and imagines what it would be like to hug and kiss them.

I answer the phone with a smile. It’s the tenth call of the day. I talk jovially about the weather and the customer’s favorite football team. After twenty minutes of troubleshooting, the problem is solved and we end the call. I document everything in my ticket and decide it’s time to take a break.

A mother of four speaks softly, but with authority as she directs several families to leave the building. Within minutes there will be nothing left but a pile of rubble and ash.  It’s a suspected safe house for anti-American extremists and it’s targeted for destruction. The innocent women and children are being ushered out before the order is given to launch the attack. She urges them forward; the gun in her hand speaks louder than her words. There’s no time to take a break.

I’ve put in my eight hours and now it’s time to go upstairs and create everlasting memories with my family. There is a choice to be made. Chicken or hamburger for supper. We decide on chicken and I fire up the grill. Thirty minutes later, we’re sitting at the table eating and talking about our plans for the weekend.

A young girl, just three years out of high school stares at the scene before her. Her training never prepared her for this moment. On one side of the road, a small child screams in terror as wild dogs attack. On the other side of the road, rebel forces hold a pregnant woman at gunpoint. There is a choice to be made. Try to save the child, ignoring the fact he might be wired with explosives or go for the woman which would undoubtedly draw an onslaught of gunfire.

I lay on my bed, warm and safe, thinking about what tomorrow might bring. The children have fallen asleep after watching TV in their room. The neighborhood is quiet with only a gentle echo of crickets in the distance. In another country, far from safe or warm, men and women are giving their lives to protect the very things I take for granted on a daily basis.

One of my favorite movie lines comes from Saving Private Ryan. With his dying breath, Tom Hanks pulls Matt Damon close and whispers, “Earn this.” He had just given his life so that Private Ryan could leave the war and go home to his grieving mother who had just lost three other sons.

Whether we agree with the politicians in Washington or not, we need to earn each and every second we are given by the brave men and women sacrificing their freedom so we can enjoy ours. They are the ones who allow us to sleep in peace at night. They are the ones who allow us to get up every day and earn a living. They are the ones who answer the call and drop everything to serve their country with dedication and pride.

Thank you isn’t enough.

When a Soldier Cries (re-post)


I wrote this military tribute last year, and posted it on my blog. If you strip away all the politics, all the speeches, and all the nonsense, what are you left with? Boots on the ground. There will always be men and women fighting wars, spending many nights away from their families. I’m not into politics at all, but anyone who sacrifices what these brave souls do, has my respect. Please share with anyone you know who is serving, or has served in our military. Tell them thank you, even though that isn’t truly enough.

Here are a couple more I’ve written in the past:

The Letter

Thank You Isn’t Enough

When a Soldier Cries
Copyright 2013 Chris Martin

A tattered picture, nearly faded to white
Faces of the ones for whom a soldier fights
In the empty silence of a world so far away
On the rocky ground, the only place to lay

A father dreams of home, family, and friends
In war, there is no guarantee he will see them again
Thunder roars with fury, lightning burns the darkened skies
The mighty angels shed a tear, when a soldier cries

She walks across the street, a young child stands alone
Memories haunt her dreams of the daughters she left at home
She tries to smile, show happiness through the tears
Although she wants to help, the child retreats in fear

At night she dreams of home, bedtime hugs and kisses
She prays to one day have again, everything she misses
She can still see their faces as they spoke their last goodbyes
Nothing can soothe a heart, when a soldier cries

In the pouring rain he stands guard, rifle in hand
Just two years out of high school, his parents don’t understand
He wanted something greater than just video games and fun
He dedicated his life to become more than just an ordinary son

A young man dreams of home and wishes upon a distant star
The letters are few and far between, only time can heal a wounded heart
In the gathering shadows, just beyond where the unseen lies
Those who have gone before, bow their heads when a soldier cries

The growl of crunching metal, searing heat and flames surround
Voices of the wounded, silent screams that have no sound
She left college early and signed up to answer the call
Now lying in the wreckage, she wonders if it’s time to give it all

The young woman dreams of home, but she doesn’t surrender to the fear
She knows if they’re alive, they will come back and find her here
Chaos and confusion, in a place where hope and fate collide
She fights for every breath, there’s no shame when a soldier cries

They stand in single file, one hand raised to touch their brow
Men and women, young and old, bound together by a sacred vow
Silently they watch as each car drives slowly past
A beautiful flag covers every casket, heroes returning home at last

Mothers and daughters, fathers and sons, bravery at its best
Defined by the unselfish act of sacrifice, courage passed the ultimate test
With a will stronger than iron, nerves of steel and no compromise
There’s nothing to give but respect and honor…when a soldier cries

Dear America


This is the hardest letter I’ve ever written. I hate to address this to such a broad audience, but it’s the only way I can possibly get my point across. As we all know, Thanksgiving is coming up, which means Christmas is right around the corner as well. I beg you to appreciate what you have and all the people in your life. Do not take for granted those things that so easily are, and remember the privilege you have of spending quality time with the ones you love.

I haven’t seen my wife in six months, three weeks, two days, fifteen hours, thirty-seven minutes, and let’s see, twenty seconds now. I spend my nights in bed alone, if not in a hole somewhere on the opposite side of the world. Instead of drifting off to sleep to the sound of my wife’s steady breathing, I lie awake as explosions echo all around me. The crack of continuous gunfire haunts my dreams, if I even fall asleep. I’m hungry, thirsty, and exhausted.

I was able to watch my boy take his first steps, but only through Skype. I had to find a towel so I could wipe the tears off of the laptop keyboard. I tried to hide them from my wife, but she noticed. She didn’t say anything. I’ve only spoken with her three times since I have been deployed. Three times. I know she wonders every day if someone will show up at our front door with the horrifying news that I was killed in action. Do you know how that makes me feel knowing she has to endure that? I want to hold her in my arms and tell her that everything will be alright, even though I can’t be certain of that myself.

I want to see my son running toward me with arms outstretched as I walk into the house. I want to hear his joyful cries of “Daddy!”. I want to go outside and kick a soccer ball around. Maybe throw a baseball back and forth. Push him on the swing. Chase him around the playground. I want to be the father that is always there for him. He’s too young to understand why I never come home at night for dinner, or tuck him into bed and read a story.

This year, when you’re sitting around the table, surrounded by family and friends, please don’t forget about the mother and young son who miss their husband and father. Say a prayer for those who are on foreign soil sacrificing their freedom for a greater cause. While you’re eating turkey, stuffing, and mashed potatoes, please remember there are those quietly eating MRE’s with a rifle by their side.

When you’re standing in line for a week, in the freezing cold, rain, and wind to buy toys for Christmas, think about me as I stand guard over my brothers and sisters here on the battlefront. I like when it rains. It hides the tears that run down my face from thinking about the ones I miss so much.

When you’re fighting over the last TV at Best Buy, stop and think about me fighting for your freedom. We are under constant threat from bombs, gunfire, and air attacks. One of our own was killed last week when a young boy walked up to our convoy and opened fire with an assault rifle. Parker had a wife and two kids, both girls. They won’t have their daddy to walk them down the aisle on their special day. We can’t trust anyone over here. They use children to get close thinking we don’t suspect them. We have to treat everyone as the enemy.

It’s not easy here, I won’t even pretend it is. I consider it an honor to fight for the greatest country in the world, but there are times when I feel selfish. There are moments when I miss my family so much, I would do almost anything to see and hold them. Holidays are the absolute hardest days to get through. As I stare at the picture of my wife and son, I touch their faces and pray that they know how much I love them. I look up at the stars and wonder if they are looking at the same ones.

I hope you don’t take this letter the wrong way. It’s not meant to inflict guilt, and it wasn’t written in anger. I just want you to never forget about the men and women who are over here fighting and won’t be able to spend time with their loved ones during the holidays. I’m a Marine, husband, and father with shoulders that are wide and strong. They can handle the blood, the death, and the pain. It’s my honor to fight for each and every one of you. All I ask for in return is that you say a prayer for us tonight. Pray that we make it back to our loved ones. Pray that we don’t lose sight of our mission. Pray that my wife will not live in constant fear. Pray that my son will remember who I am.

Most of all, pray that we will honor the sacrifices made by those who came before us, the ones who shed their blood long ago, so we could carry on the fight.

Semper Fi

Sincerely,

A soldier fighting for you

Chris Martin

Nothing but Respect


I was never in the military. I never served multiple tours in Afghanistan. I’ve never had to spend sleepless nights in a bunker somewhere on the other side of the world listening to continuous gunfire and explosions. I’ve never had to spend months or years away from my family wondering if I would ever see them again. I’ve never spent holidays and birthdays alone, far away from the ones I love the most.

Unfortunately, there are many brave men and women who have, and who are still serving right now. I have the utmost respect for anyone who lives a life of sacrifice. True heroes don’t wear capes, football pads, or memorize scripts for the silver screen. The true heroes in this world wear dog tags, a shield on their uniform, rush into burning buildings to save lives, and stand in front of a classroom full of kids who don’t respect them.

I’ve written several things in honor of our troops. I can only imagine the feelings, thoughts, and emotions they endure. I hope in some small way, the words I write in their honor will convey that there are people all over this world who truly respect what they do. A simple “Thank you for your service” is great, but I don’t think it’s ever enough. The American flag is stained with the blood of those who have given their lives to protect the freedom we so often take for granted. Don’t let their sacrifice be in vain.

With Veteran’s Day quickly approaching, I wanted to share one of my personal favorites out of all I’ve written for the troops. It’s a poem entitled “When A Soldier Cries” Please feel free to share this with anyone you know who is serving or has served in the past.

When a Soldier Cries
Copyright 2013 Chris Martin

A tattered picture, nearly faded to white
Faces of the ones for whom a soldier fights
In the empty silence of a world so far away
On the rocky ground, the only place to lay

A father dreams of home, family, and friends
In war, there is no guarantee he will see them again
Thunder roars with fury, lightning burns the darkened skies
The mighty angels shed a tear, when a soldier cries

She walks across the street, a young child stands alone
Memories haunt her dreams of the daughters she left at home
She tries to smile, show happiness through the tears
Although she wants to help, the child retreats in fear

At night she dreams of home, bedtime hugs and kisses
She prays to one day have again, everything she misses
She can still see their faces as they spoke their last goodbyes
Nothing can soothe a heart, when a soldier cries

In the pouring rain he stands guard, rifle in hand
Just two years out of high school, his parents don’t understand
He wanted something greater than just video games and fun
He dedicated his life to become more than just an ordinary son

A young man dreams of home and wishes upon a distant star
The letters are few and far between, only time can heal a wounded heart
In the gathering shadows, just beyond where the unseen lies
Those who have gone before, bow their heads when a soldier cries

The growl of crunching metal, searing heat and flames surround
Voices of the wounded, silent screams that have no sound
She left college early and signed up to answer the call
Now lying in the wreckage, she wonders if it’s time to give it all

The young woman dreams of home, but she doesn’t surrender to the fear
She knows if they’re alive, they will come back and find her here
Chaos and confusion, in a place where hope and fate collide
She fights for every breath, there’s no shame when a soldier cries

They stand in single file, one hand raised to touch their brow
Men and women, young and old, bound together by a sacred vow
Silently they watch as each car drives slowly past
A beautiful flag covers every casket, heroes returning home at last

Mothers and daughters, fathers and sons, bravery at its best
Defined by the unselfish act of sacrifice, courage passed the ultimate test
With a will stronger than iron, nerves of steel and no compromise
There’s nothing to give but respect and honor, when a soldier cries

 

Make sure to follow me on Twitter and/or Facebook by clicking on the appropriate link to the right. Thanks!

Have a blessed day

The American Soldier


Since before and after the birth of our freedom, men and women have given their lives in sacrifice for this country. I won’t lie, our country is in a world of hurt, full of sin and despair. That, however, doesn’t change the fact that there are still brave men and women today who answer the call and put on that uniform. I wrote this for them and their families…for those brave souls presently serving and who have ever served in the military. It’s called The American Soldier.

The American Soldier
Copyright 2012 Chris Martin

In the fading sun, you can see them standing tall
The fearless men and women, unafraid to risk it all
So far away, they fight even when it doesn't make sense
While we sleep inside the safety of our white picket fence

A father sits in silence, a wrinkled picture in his hand
With each tear that slowly falls, he prays they understand
They are his world, but sometimes life keeps them apart
He gently touches each face, as the pain consumes his heart

A mother holds her breath, smoke and chaos all around
When the bomb exploded, it knocked them all to the ground
An innocent boy, caught in the middle, lying broken and all alone
She picks up her rifle and thinks about her son back home

Each day goes by, one more closer to the end
Sometimes they aren't even sure, if they will make it home again
They cast aside the fear and doubt, there's no time to be afraid
If duty calls for sacrifice, they will wear honor all the way to the grave

A son trembles as the darkened sky flashes under the attack
He knows they're counting on him, to always have their back
With determination that stems from the very soul of a warrior
He continues forward, step by step behind his brothers

A daughter holds a young girl's hand, tries to gently calm her fears
So many children wander with nowhere to go, dirty faces washed with tears
She holds her close and whispers that everything will be alright
Nothing will stop her from keeping the little one safe tonight

Without hesitation, they leave everything behind for the cause
They rush headlong into the battle, when most might stop and pause
They give up the comforts of an ordinary life
And lay it all down, in service, to protect our rights

From wars that have come and gone, the crimson stains run deep
Memories of the ones we lost, now resting in eternal sleep
Their legacy lives inside the very backbone of the red, white, and blue
Raise Old Glory high, everything they sacrificed was for me and you

Through the history of time, men and women have always answered the call
Promised to never give up, even when some of them fall
They took an oath to defend the constitution against enemies of any kind
But no matter what the cost, they will never leave another soldier behind

When you kneel at your bed and say those prayers tonight
Remember the ones, a world away, who continue to fight
Fathers, mothers, sons, and daughters join together as one
They carry the cry of freedom into the shadows of a fading sun

Make sure to follow me on Twitter and/or Facebook by clicking on the appropriate link to the right. Thanks!

Have a blessed day,

Chris

The Important Things in Life


A friend of mine posted a story on Facebook that caught my attention for a couple of reasons. The first being that the incident took place in Charlotte NC, where I currently live. The second reason was that it involved a soldier who lost both of his legs fighting in Afghanistan. I don’t get into politics at all, but I do have the utmost respect for anyone willing to risk their life to protect the freedoms we all too easily take for granted in this country. (Click HERE to see the article.)

I won’t go into all the details of the story since you can read it for yourself, but it saddens me to think this all started because both parties root for different football teams. I mean, come on, this man went to fight in a war thousands of miles away, lost both legs in the process, and can’t wear his team’s jersey into a restaurant without someone treating him and his family like garbage? What has this world come to?

Don’t get me wrong, I love sports. I’m not saying there is anything wrong with being passionate about your favorite team. I love the Miami Dolphins (Don’t laugh. I know they stink, but I have been a fan since the Marino days.) and the Chicago Bulls, but I’m not going to disrespect a man, who sacrificed so much for the country I call home, just because he likes a different team. That is ridiculous on so many levels. As I read the story, I got angry and then teary-eyed. It must have felt like such a slap in the face to be treated like that after sacrificing both legs to defend the very ones who were calling him names and threatening his family.

I was shocked to read that the restaurant staff asked the soldier and his family to leave. Wow. At first, I didn’t even know where to begin on that part. I read later on their Facebook page (Click Here) that the establishment owner did, in fact, contact them directly and invited them to come back. I felt somewhat better after reading that.

With the ups and downs of life, and what we all go through on a daily basis, sports should be near the bottom of our priority list.

I would rather try to help the family down the street who has no food. Or be a friend to the kid at school who is terrorized by bullies every day. What about the single mom with six children who escaped a refugee camp in Africa and does everything in her power to keep them afloat. Working with inner city youth, I’ve seen all of these examples on a first hand basis, and it breaks my heart. Instead of disrespecting someone because they have different views, let’s embrace the differences, and do what we can to help our fellowman.

We’re all in this together. This thing we call life. In a world where there are so many hurting and lost people, we can be the difference that we talk about so much. Instead of tearing each other down, let’s encourage one another and do everything we can to help those in need.

Next week: Through the Fire

Make sure to follow me on Twitter and/or Facebook by clicking on the appropriate link to the right. Thanks!

Have a blessed day,

Chris

The American Soldier


I finished this up and decided not to wait so long to post it. We’ll consider this a bonus post today. It’s called The American Soldier.

The American Soldier
Copyright 2012 Chris Martin

In the fading sun, you can see them standing tall
The fearless men and women, unafraid to risk it all
So far away, they fight even when it doesn't make sense
While we sleep inside the safety of our white picket fence

A father sits in silence, a wrinkled picture in his hand
With each tear that slowly falls, he prays they understand
They are his world, but sometimes life keeps them apart
He gently touches each face, as the pain consumes his heart

A mother holds her breath, smoke and chaos all around
When the bomb exploded, it knocked them all to the ground
An innocent boy, caught in the middle, lying broken and all alone
She picks up her rifle and thinks about her son back home

Each day goes by, one more closer to the end
Sometimes they aren't even sure, if they will make it home again
They cast aside the fear and doubt, there's no time to be afraid
If duty calls for sacrifice, they will wear honor all the way to the grave

A son trembles as the darkened sky flashes under the attack
He knows they're counting on him, to always have their back
With determination that stems from the very soul of a warrior
He continues forward, step by step behind his brothers

A daughter holds a young girl's hand, tries to gently calm her fears
So many children wander with nowhere to go, dirty faces washed with tears
She holds her close and whispers that everything will be alright
Nothing will stop her from keeping the little one safe tonight

Without hesitation, they leave everything behind for the cause
They rush headlong into the battle, when most might stop and pause
They give up the comforts of an ordinary life
And lay it all down, in service, to protect our rights

From wars that have come and gone, the crimson stains run deep
Memories of the ones we lost, now resting in eternal sleep
Their legacy lives inside the very backbone of the red, white, and blue
Raise Old Glory high, everything they sacrificed was for me and you

Through the history of time, men and women have always answered the call
Promised to never give up, even when some of them fall
They took an oath to defend the constitution against enemies of any kind
But no matter what the cost, they will never leave another soldier behind

When you kneel at your bed and say those prayers tonight
Remember the ones, a world away, who continue to fight
Fathers, mothers, sons, and daughters join together as one
They carry the cry of freedom into the shadows of a fading sun

Make sure to follow me on Twitter and/or Facebook by clicking on the appropriate link to the right. Thanks!

Have a blessed day,

Chris