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.

Veterans Day


Tomorrow is Veterans Day. It’s a time when we honor the men and women who have served in our armed forces. Great sacrifice is something to honor and preserve throughout the ages. Many of you have probably read this before, but I wrote it last year as a military tribute. I wanted to post it again in honor of the men and women who have served, and who are currently serving. God bless you.

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

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

Under the Bridge


Saturday night, we were blessed to receive several tickets to the Charlotte Bobcats basketball game. The Chicago Bulls were in town, and I have to admit, I was very excited. The Bulls have been my favorite NBA team since the late 80’s. It would be my first time to watch them live, and I was pumped and ready for the experience. We parked a couple miles away from the arena and walked. It was cold. Once the sun faded into the horizon, the temperature dropped quickly. The wind ripped through in gusts reaching more miles per hour than I would have wanted. Even with jackets on, we were all gritting our teeth and shivering from the frigid air.

Then I noticed the man sleeping under the bridge, and my heart sank.

With one quick glance, my excitement for the game diminished into a gut-wrenching reality. I’ve written about the homeless before. I penned an Open Letter to Society where I attempted to put myself in the place of someone living on the streets. However great my intentions were in the moment, I can’t possibly fathom what it’s like to survive in a world completely opposite of our own. Well, it was nearing six o’clock, and we were already running behind. We continued on to our destination inside the Time Warner Cable arena, where the warmth embraced us like the father who welcomed home his prodigal son.

I enjoyed the game and the atmosphere, but inside, the image of that man sleeping under the bridge haunted me. Our friend said there were several people who lived beneath that same covering of concrete and steel. They stopped asking others for anything a long time ago. Our first instinct, when a homeless person asks for money, is to cringe inside and either ignore them, or shake our heads and keep on walking. I completely understand that feeling. However, an excuse that the person may abuse the money on drugs or alcohol doesn’t make up for our indifference. Yes, I’ve given people money when they asked for it, but I would much rather buy them a value meal from McDonald’s, or take them a coat. Like everything else, there are many opinions on the issue of homelessness in our country. I’m not here to debate those with anyone.

I’m talking about a loss of interest in basic humanity. We don’t know the story behind the woman with a cardboard sign standing at the intersection. We assume the man lying on the park bench is a drug abuser. We say the crippled man on the corner begging is just faking a disability to gain sympathy. Is the “we can’t help everyone” mentality crushing our desire to love these people regardless of their appearance, story, or capability to seek employment? But wait, God helps those who help themselves, right? Isn’t that the mantra we use as Christians to avoid associating with people who make us feel uncomfortable?

You can search the Bible page by page, verse by verse, and you will never find that phrase anywhere. In fact, the Bible teaches the exact opposite. The entire point of Jesus dying on the cross was because there was nothing we could do in our own power to obtain salvation. If God only helps those who help themselves, we are all doomed to an eternity in Hell. Romans 5:6 says this:

6 You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless,Christ died for the ungodly.

Jesus died for the homeless, the ones standing on a street corner begging, that man lying on the park bench, the woman outside the fast food joint hoping someone will buy her a burger, and the very same man I saw sleeping under that bridge. The blind, the leper, and the lame were all powerless to help themselves, and Jesus helped them anyway.

What’s our excuse?

Chris Martin

An Open Letter to Society.


You’ve seen me. I’m the man standing at the intersection holding a small, poorly written message on a cardboard sign. I’m the woman peering into your window at the stop light, hoping you will reach out your hand and drop some change into mine. Most people don’t even have the decency to look me directly in the eye. Are you frightened of me? Are you so engrossed in your own personal world that you don’t notice me? Or, is it something else? Has the cold reality of indifference permeated the very fiber of every human being not sleeping on the streets?

I understand you don’t know me. You see me as a complete stranger, begging for money or cigarettes. Granted, there are some who wander around mooching off others simply because they lack the desire to wake up every morning and go into work. Having figured out that wearing old, dirty clothes and not bathing for days may earn them sympathy, they become actors, living a lie. Maybe it’s their deception that has tainted the views of an uncaring society. Like everything else, we are branded with a stereotype that may very well seal our destiny. It’s the “If you’ve seen one beggar, you’ve seen them all” mentality. I urge you, no, I implore you to hear me out. Let these words sink through your hardened exterior and into the cracks of a soul that yearns to believe in the good of humanity.

I once had a great life. I was married with two kids. I was blessed with an amazing job that took me around the world to see places I could never have dreamed of visiting. It’s easy to take everything for granted when life is going so well. The reality is that nothing lasts forever, and the rug can be yanked out at any moment. We go through life feeling invincible, that all of our hopes and dreams are waiting patiently at the end of our fingertips. I worked hard for the things I used to have. I fought to keep them in my life, but sometimes, giving everything we have is just simply not enough. The darkness I endured for several years took its toll, leaving me with nothing I could call my own, except for the dirt on the soles of my worn out shoes.

You see, I served my country for many years. I fought battles in a war raging thousands of miles away from the comfort and safety of my home. I witnessed the worst humanity has to offer, and sometimes the best. The nightmares are relentless, and I fear they will follow me to my grave. I’ve watched men, women, and children die in the arms of brutal violence with no meaning. Brave men and women sacrificed their lives for complete strangers, and never gave it a second thought. They were my brothers and sisters. They had become my family. When I returned from the horrors of war, I found there wasn’t a place for me here anymore. I felt like an outcast, an alien in a foreign land. When I should have been welcomed home as a hero who served his country with pride and dedication, I was thrown to the curb. I lost everything.

The stress of living with a damaged vet was too much for my wife. She took both kids and left me. I couldn’t find a job. I was told to get therapy, but no one would help pay for it. So I sat in an empty house, while the world kept on turning, wondering why I was even alive. Deep down, the memories of my fallen brothers urged me to shake off self pity, and earn the life their sacrifice had purchased. I just didn’t have anything left that resembled hope. When the bank took my house, I had no choice but to leave with nothing but the clothes on my back. I thank God there are still homeless shelters available for temporary living quarters. Mostly though, I’m alone on the streets with nothing but hopelessness and a small sign.

I stare into the eyes of strangers hoping someone will give me a chance. As I lay awake on the sidewalk under the blanket of a cardboard box, I ask God why. Why doesn’t anyone care about those of us who are struggling? Why can’t we ever seem to catch a break? Why has society turned their backs on the less fortunate, and instead they chase after luxury cars and over-spacious homes? With blood and tears, I fought for the very freedoms they take for granted. Yet, I am looked upon as nothing more than a homeless beggar. A citizen from the underbelly of this great nation I lost everything for.

The next time you see someone standing at the intersection holding a cardboard sign, remember this letter. That person might be a mother or father. They are someone’s son or daughter.

Maybe they are like me, a veteran who has no home. A man who has no hope.

Chris Martin

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

For Them


Since it’s Veteran’s Day, I wanted to put links to four tributes I’ve written for our troops. They are all on my blog, but instead of having to search through so many posts, they will be right here in one convenient location. Most of you may have read them, but let’s keep our troops in mind today. Not only those who have served courageously in the past, but also those serving today.

When A Soldier Cries

The Letter

The American Soldier

Thank You Isn’t Enough

 

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

Have a blessed day

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

When A Soldier Cries


My latest. This one is called When A Soldier Cries.

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

marine crying

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 Letter


My dearest love,

I can’t even put into words how much we miss you. Each day passes by as if the clock on the wall has come to a grinding halt. Horrible as that is, the nights are even worse. I toss and turn for what feels like an eternity. It’s just not right without you by my side. I hold your pillow tightly because there remains a faint scent of the aftershave you use. I cry because that smell is fading all too quickly. I know it sounds stupid, but it’s the only tangible thing in this house that makes me feel as if you’re here.

Sometimes I scream out your name and complain that life isn’t fair. I try not to, but I yell at God because of the pain I feel inside. Even though I do it, I know it’s not right. I just can’t help it. I’m tired of crying all day when I think about you. I’m tired of sobbing at night before I lay down in another useless attempt to sleep. I just want this pain and loneliness to go away and never return. Is that too much to ask for?

I know you told me not to, but I watched the news again last night. I was hoping they might show your face, or at least mention your name, but they never did. It’s as if the world doesn’t care what is happening over there. Sometimes I feel like no one truly appreciates the sacrifices that are being made so we can continue to enjoy freedom. I get so tired of hearing “Thank you for your service” or “Thank you for your sacrifice”. I know some mean it, but the majority feel like they have to say it. How can they possibly know what I’m going through if they haven’t been there themselves?

I’m sorry. It wasn’t my intention for this letter to turn into a sob story of everything I’m going through. It’s not like you don’t already know all of this.

Jimmy took his first steps today. It was so amazing. Oh, how I wish you could have seen that. The look on his face was absolutely priceless. I got it all on video, so I can embarrass him when he’s a teenager. He’s such an amazing kid. I can already tell he’s going to be like you. Tender heart. Glowing smile. Never quit attitude. He’s so strong for such a little thing. Sometimes I wonder if he will follow in your footsteps. Part of me hopes not, but another part would be so proud. I can’t imagine anything more fulfilling than having a son who wants to be just like his father.

Your mom called today. It’s still difficult to talk with her. She bought some maternity clothes for me, and some more stuff to put in the nursery. It nearly kills me to know that you won’t be here for the birth of our daughter. I know we discussed the things we might have to sacrifice when you enlisted. I guess deep down inside, I just never thought we would actually have to endure them. Sometimes I wish things were so different, but yet I know that everything you’ve done over there matters.

I will end this now before I get more tears on the paper. I was going to rewrite everything on a clean sheet, but I changed my mind. I want you to know how much you are loved and missed. These tears come from a place so deep in my heart where you will always be. Yes, sometimes it’s a dark place filled with more pain than I can imagine, but most times, it’s beautiful because of who you are.

Never forget, I will always love you. Thank you for being the hero you are and an example of a good person that our children can follow after.

I love you,

Your wife.

Standing in the crisp, fall air, she folds the letter and returns it to the envelope that was never mailed. Tears stream down her face as she stares at his grave. The headstone stands out like a white pillar against the backdrop of bright red and yellow leaves scattered across the ground. A stirring breeze tickles her skin, and she smiles even through her tears. She can feel his presence in the wind, and it warms her heart.

She looks around at hundreds of similar headstones and shakes her head. So many who paid freedom’s ultimate sacrifice lay beneath the carpet of brown earth. Mothers, fathers, daughters, and sons. The fallen warriors who willingly gave up their own freedom to fight for strangers.

Once a week, she walks into Arlington National Cemetery and reads the letter aloud. It was the last one she penned to her husband who was serving in Iraq. As a family, they gave up so many hopes and dreams in order for her husband to serve. While it was never easy, they both believed in the higher purpose, the bigger picture of what it meant to fight for something. He missed his son’s first steps and the birth of their precious daughter, but she knew he was smiling down on them from Heaven.

Footsteps approach and she turns as five year old Jimmy walks up behind her. She wipes her tears and smiles. Over the years, she’s learned how to put on a brave front for her little boy. He holds a small American flag in his tiny hand. She nods, and he walks over, placing the flag in the ground next to his father’s headstone. He reaches out and hugs the white monument that represents his daddy.

separator

I can’t imagine what it must be like to go through anything close to what I’ve just written. I have the utmost respect for the men and women who are currently serving or have served in the military and their families. The sacrifice of so many soldiers echoes throughout history, and is carried on today by those who hold up the red, white, and blue and say no one is going to take this away.

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