As I sit down to write this blog entry, I look around and take in my surroundings. I have a roof over my head, I am free to wear nothing but my Spongebob-Squarepants Boxers, Elvis is playing on my record player, and I am doing what I love more than anything else . . . writing. But this is only possible because of the men and women in our armed forces who, even now, fight for my protection and the freedom to sit on my ass and write fiction. This blog is dedicated to you, brave warriors. Your sacrifice isn’t, and will never be, lost on me.
In my novel, Renegade Rising, I write about an elite, secret group of blue-clad warriors known as The Renegades, who rise above political party ties and fight for mankind without a question asked. Sound familiar? It should. I write about fictional heroes when a real life hero could be sitting next to you in a coffee shop or working beside you. As I said before, if it wasn’t for them, this blog wouldn’t even be possible.
In other countries, freedom of expression is banned, and rights are non-existent. This is not the case with ours. Hell, we even have the freedom to petition against the heroes who brought us freedom in the first place, like the Westboro Baptist Church, a group that I would love to see dragged through a minefield naked. Too much? Maybe, but guess what, I have the freedom to write it.
Now, I want to tell you a personal story and show just how much a kind word or a simple thank you can move somebody.
A little while ago, I was in a Burger King, stuffing my fat ass with about four Rodeo Cheeseburgers (nothing new), when across from me, I noticed an elderly man wearing his WWII veteran hat with his infantry number upon it, sitting alone, and picking at an order of small fries. Now, when I go out in public, I am generally not a social butterfly. I usually keep to myself and talk only when spoken to, but, only God knows why, every once in a while, something comes over me and I find my body moving on its own accord.
Such behavior is usually linked to my temper and my impatience with douchebags. Much like the main character in my Renegade Rising story, Gisbo Falcon, I’ve found myself spearing kids into lockers because they looked at me funny, running head long into a firing squad of paintballers (45 welts across my body in under 15 seconds), and challenging an entire group of seven drunk frat boys to a fight by my lonesome. It’s a wonder I’m still alive.
But that was then, this is now, and one of those moments was about to happen to me again, although this time, my temper wasn’t at all involved. From where I sat, I could practically feel the poor man’s pain. Just a bad day couldn’t have summed it up. The guy was most certainly standing on the edge, ready to jump, but it seemed I was ready to jump first . . .
Before I knew it, I was out of my chair, walking over to this old man. Upon arriving, he looked up at me with a worried glance as I thrust out my hand and thanked him for fighting for my freedom.
My words sort of hung out there as he looked up at me with old Bambi eyes that suddenly welled up with tears. Even now, I can picture the man’s face perfectly in my mind. His jaw dropped, his jowls trembled a bit as he tried to speak, but couldn’t. There were only tears. He then grabbed my hand and shook it hard and did not let go as he tried to find words. As he held my hand and squeezed, I could feel his strength and calluses and, as a man should, he looked me straight in the eyes as he shook. After a long ten seconds, he finally, through sniffles, said,
“Nobody ever thanked me . . . us . . . for what we did. God . . . God bless you, son,” the man said as he let go of my hand, stood up, gave a deep sigh, and walked out with his head held high.
Now let me tell you something, no matter how bad you think you have it, you really don’t. Just living in the United States, the greatest country in all the world, puts you ahead of most everybody. Never, and I mean never, take it for granted, and never forget what makes our country great . . .
Thank you, Army, Thank you, Marines, Thank you, Navy, Thank you, Air Force, and Thank you, Coast Guard. You all inspire and mean the world to me, and as a thank you, 10% of all my Renegade Rising sales are donated to The Wounded Warrior Project, an organization that helps our injured veterans get their lives back.
God bless you all.