Men of Valor

Two works have influenced me in recent months.  In fact, their influence greatly impacted the second novel in my Kathleen Turner Series, TURN TO ME. 

The first work that influenced me was the autobiography “American Sniper – The Autobiography of the Most Lethal Sniper in US Military History” by Navy SEAL Chris Kyle.  The second is the movie “Act of Valor” in which all the major roles were played by active duty Navy SEALs.

Navy SEALs have recently shot to fame in the imagination of people everywhere.  It’s not hard to see why.  They’re a rougher, tougher version of a modern-day cowboy.  Courageous, skilled, honorable – driven by a sense of patriotism for their country and duty to their fellow brothers-in-arms.  As you may know, Blane Kirk, one of the heroes of my series, used to be a Navy SEAL.  In TURN TO ME, that role influences the events of his life, and consequently, Kathleen’s.

“American Sniper” gave an inside view not only of what life in combat is like for a SEAL, but insight into their character as well.  It was both fascinating and humbling.  When I was through, I was overwhelmed with gratitude – not only for the men who volunteer for such an incredibly dangerous, thankless job – but that in some parts of America, it seems we’re still able to produce these kind of men.  Unsurprisingly, Chris Kyle was raised in Texas.  Thank God for Texas (just an aside).

Then about a month or so ago, I went to see “Act of Valor.”  Then I went again.  Will it win an Academy Award?  Of course not.  But the acting wasn’t why I went to see it.  As “American Sniper” gave insight into the character of a SEAL, so “Act of Valor” gave an inside look at how they do what they do.  I’ve seen a lot of action movies – it’s become my favorite genre in the past few years (you can keep your sappy chick flick – I’ll take men with guns).  The scenes of the SEALs doing “their thing” were simply amazing.  It was obvious that these were no Hollywood stuntmen or actors that had been coached.  They moved with an ease borne of skill and repitition.  It was riveting.  Awe-inspiring.

At the end of the movie, the credits rolled and a song played while pictures flashed on the screen of the men with their families.  Children, parents, spouses.  Kisses goodbye and welcome home hugs.  At the time, I didn’t know the name of the tune, but only listened to the heart-wrenching lyrics as I tried to read the many names that scrolled of the Special Forces men who have given their lives for this country since 9/11.  Tears poured from my eyes.  How do you thank the families left with the loss of their loved-ones for their sacrifice?  What words are there to express how grateful I am that there are men such as these, that will stand ready to inflict death and destruction on those who would want to harm us? 

The fact is that there are no words.  Perhaps, if the families knew that strangers such as myself shed tears on their behalf, that would give them some small measure of comfort.  I’d pray it would. 

And I pray for the safety of the men still out there – on watch and on guard.  May God bless you and keep you.

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Lyrics to “For You” by Keith Urban
YouTube Music Video – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gWK1sG3spiE

All I saw was smoke and fire; I didn’t feel a thing,
but suddenly I was rising higher.
And I felt like I’d just made the biggest mistake
when I thought about my unborn child;

when I thought about my wife.
And the answer rang out clear
from somewhere up above:
No greater gift has man, but to lay down his life for love.

And I wonder, would I give my life?
Could I make that sacrifice?
If it came down to it, could I take the bullet, I would.
Yes I would for you.

Maybe you don’t understand
I don’t understand it all myself.
But there’s a brother on my left and another on my right.
And in his pocket just like mine, he’s got a photograph.
And they’re waiting for him back home.

And it’s weighing on my mind.
I’m not trying to be a hero;
I don’t wanna die.
But right now in this moment, you don’t think twice.

I wonder, would I give my life?
Could I make that sacrifice?
If it came down to it, could I take the bullet, I would.
Yes I would.

You don’t think about right; you don’t think about wrong.
You just do what you gotta do to defend your own.
And I’d do the same for you –
Yes I would.

I would give my life.
I would make that sacrifice.
‘Cause if it came down to it, could I take the bullet, I would.
Yes I would do it for you.
I’d do it for you.

Author: Tiffany Snow

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