The true heroes


I’ve been watching the TV show, Cops, quite a bit lately. Spike TV has been running marathons on Fridays and Saturdays. I’ve watched the show in the past, but with a much different attitude than what I have now.

I used to take joy in watching people get thrown to the ground, shot with a Taser, and eventually handcuffed. I would shake my head in disbelief as people constructed lies to try and cover their criminal activity. I would call them stupid and deserving when they resisted arrest, and were forced to their knees by officers with guns drawn.

I watch the show now with a deep sadness in my heart. Policemen encounter people during their worst moments. Some in desperation. Some in the throes of addiction. Most all of them with little or no hope. I watched one the other night where a guy wouldn’t put his weapon down, because he wanted the officers to kill him. I believe they call that suicide by cop. Once they had him in custody, he said there was no reason to live anymore.

That one literally brought tears to my eyes.

There is another world that most of us never see. A world where desperate people are fighting to remain alive. A world where men and women go to work with the possibility that they might never make it home to their families. A world where any one decision can be life or death.

The heroes in this world aren’t athletes or actors. They might be the ones making the big money, but catching a ball or being chased by monsters on a green screen can’t possibly compare to those who selflessly serve the public.

I’m a sports fan. I enjoy watching football and basketball, but it angers me to see millionaires act like big babies on the field when there are officers in the streets being murdered. Or when sons and daughters come back from war in a casket instead of standing on their own two feet. It really puts it all in perspective.

Cops don’t get paid enough. Teachers don’t get paid enough. Military men and women don’t get paid enough. We freak out if we have the opportunity to see a celebrity walking down the street, but when was the last time we thanked a solider or police officer for putting their lives on the line every day?

The amazing thing is that most of them do their jobs without even expecting a simple thank you.

I’m smart enough to realize there are two sides to every story. There are some bad cops out there. I’m sure there are also people in the military with some not so heroic intentions. That doesn’t mean they are all bad.

I don’t know how my salary compares to policemen or military personnel, but I hope and pray they make more than I do.

When you lie down to sleep tonight, say a prayer for the police officer patrolling the dark streets in order to protect the innocent.

Remember the men and women, thousands of miles away, who only wish for the chance to hold their babies for Christmas.

Let’s remember who the true heroes are.

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

Never Forget


I tried to come up with something special for this day. A story, some kind of poem, or even some new song lyrics. I just wasn’t able to pen anything fresh. I can usually tell after a few minutes of staring at the blank screen whether or not it’s going to happen. Well, it didn’t. I ended up with nothing but memories.

9/11 was one of those events where you remember every single thing about that day. Where you were. What you ate for breakfast. Possibly even what you were wearing and every single detail of each conversation you had with people. Every moment is seared into your brain. For me, it was the same way when the space shuttle Challenger exploded. I was in school when one of our teachers ran in with the devastating news.

These are events that alter history. They tear through the fabric of time and leave scars that may never heal. They create stories that our children and grandchildren will study one day in a classroom.

It was a Tuesday morning. We lived in Corvallis, OR, and I worked for Pepsi. The previous day, I had just started training to be a route driver. I climbed out of bed after having a very strange experience during the night. Around 2 AM, I awoke with a churning inside my stomach like none I have never experienced before or since. Dread washed over me in waves. All I could think to do was pray. I prayed for everyone that came to mind. My family, my friends, my co-workers. I didn’t even know what to pray. I just asked God for protection over them all.

My initial thought was that something horrible was going to happen in the small town I grew up in, Franklin NC. When I turned on the radio in my car that gloomy morning, I knew why I had been praying.

I rushed back into our apartment and flipped on the television. A scene of horror greeted me, and I sank into a chair. It was one of the most horrific events I had ever witnessed in my lifetime.

I didn’t want to be late for work, so I tore myself away from the news and headed on in. Obviously, it was the focal point of all conversation that morning. That early, most of the people I worked with weren’t exactly lively, but that day was so different. There was a sadness that clouded the Pepsi plant. You could see it in each face and hear it in every voice.

We made sure the truck was loaded and pulled out to start a day full of deliveries. We listened to the radio the entire time. We couldn’t speak when they announced the first tower was crumbling. I wanted to rush home and hold my wife and little girl when they described the second one falling.

We worked through our route in a state of numbness. I remember one stop was a local newspaper. We walked in and started toward the back where the vending machines were located. I noticed that everyone looked at us strangely. Even Sean, the guy training me, said something about it once we reached the lunchroom. While we were determining what they needed as far as product was concerned, one of the paper employees walked in. He said they were all on edge and just wanted to make sure we were truly from Pepsi.

Everywhere we went that day, people were frightened. That, and deeply moved by the grief and tragedy befalling our nation. It’s something you wish could be wiped clean from the deep shadows of our memory, but yet, it’s also something we don’t want to forget. We could never forget.

I’m not into politics at all. I’m not pro-government. I’m not anti-government. I’ve watched countless videos attempting to prove that 9/11 was an “inside” job. None of that matters to me. What does is the fact that people lost sons and daughters that day. They lost parents and cousins. Brothers and sisters. Best friends. Grandparents. Uncles. Aunts. The list goes on and on. Brave men and women rushed headlong into the smoke and debris desperately trying to find survivors. I’ve watched so many documentaries over the years, and I’m left wrecked at such loss and devastation.

It’s time such as this, I fall to my knees and thank God for the many blessings in my life. My wife. My two children. My mom. My job. It’s too easy in this life to gripe and complain about everything. The Bible actually calls complaining a sin. I make it a point each morning to wake up conversing with my Father, thanking Him for another opportunity to represent Him on this earth. Time is short, folks. We have no idea when Jesus is coming back. We have to live as if it could be at any moment. Take a few moments today to just stop, get into a quiet place, and talk with God.

Today marks 13 years since the events of 9/11/2001. It’s hard to believe. Wherever you are right now, hug someone close to you. Tell them how much you love them. Never forget that our lives are but a vapor.

Here today and gone tomorrow.

Let Us Remember


Independence Day always stirs within me thoughts of young men and women who have sacrificed so much throughout the timeline of history. From a young boy with trembling hands griped tightly around his one-shot musket, to the girl, just barely out of high school, clutching an M16. No matter what era or battle, it takes something special to be a solider. I’ve always had much respect for people who sacrifice. Those who give up something for another human being. The Bible says there is no greater love than for a man to lay down his life for another. Regardless of my beliefs on war, there are everyday people fighting on foreign soil, separated from their families and loved ones, and for that we owe them respect.

I wrote When a Soldier Cries last year, and wanted to share it with you today. Have a safe and happy July 4th holiday.

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 her 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

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

 

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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.

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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.

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Have a blessed day,

Chris