It Was an Honor
When I began playing music at fourteen, all that was on my mind was chasing girls and having fun. Since then I have realized the greatest ability songwriting can give you. This ability is to free a person’s heart. What I mean by that is simple. Sometimes people’s hearts are captured or imprisoned. Your heart can be imprisoned by love for another, hate for another, longing for those you’ve lost, and the list goes on. A song can free a heart by saying those words you couldn’t say or honoring those who deserve honor. Honoring someone is what I was able to do, as well as a little heart-healing.
Lieutenant Colonel Steve Beck is a casualty informant officer for the U.S. military. He started an organization called Remembering the Brave for exactly that reason, to remember fallen soldiers. I was contacted by him in hopes that I would write a song for the organization. I was immediately thrilled because this was my chance to give back. It is hard not to feel guilty when your friends are off at war and you are at home pursuing a music career. So I immediately got started on it. Steve left me some great newspaper articles and videos to help me in the writing process. I did not however, finish the song until just before I arrived in Nashville to record it. Half way through the recording of the song, “Remember the Brave”, I realized that I was asking the listener to remember the names of these soldiers, but I never actually give them a name to remember. So I called up Steve and asked him if we could possibly use any of the soldiers he helped lay to rest’s name. He called eleven families and they all called in within an hour with a resounding yes.
Danny Dietz happened to be one of the names I used in the song, so as soon as I got a copy of the song to Steve, he sent it to Danny’s mother. Two hours after she heard the song, when she’d finally stopped crying, she called Steve and requested my presence at her son’s memorial service. So I agreed. The Fourth of July was the date of the memorial so we flew out of Orlando on the third.
The memorial was amazing. There were great speakers there representing the Navy because Danny was a Seal. There was a Medal of Honor recipient who spoke about how hard it is to look death in the face. Then there was Danny’s sister, she broke my heart. Her speech was right before my song and I was not sure I could get through it. I stood there looking at a crowd full of widows, sobbing mothers, and misty-eyed fathers not knowing how I was going to even make sound…..then it hit me, I was at that moment experiencing the greatest honor of my life thus far. It wasn’t just a song I was singing, it was an anthem for all the speeches that were given that day. I felt that, though it was small in comparison to what Danny did, I served my country that day.