I used to have the news on in the background as I would get ready in the morning. My mom always did, and I guess I felt something nostalgic about it- like it was something you did when you’re a grownup. However, over the past few weeks- I have really hesitated to even turn it on. I knew it’s not going to be good. More deaths. More hate. More conflicting opinions resulting in longtime friends and even family members turning against each other. The same thing carries through onto social media. It’s overwhelmingly dismal. I find myself having to step back and focus on what is directly in front of me- the welcomed monotony of endlessly reminding my kids to brush their teeth (and yes, even shower) every day. I almost welcome the chaos of getting three kids out the door, because it’s a happy stress. Not the feeling of devastation for mankind that is coming through from the media.
Then, last week I went down to Dallas. My publisher, Tactical 16, was sponsoring and participating in an event to raise money for The Lone Survivor Foundation. I wasn’t sure what to expect. I knew there would be a softball game with a mix of celebrities and veterans. Matthew McConaughey and TobyKeith were the headliners. I knew to bring my books. I was armed without expectations, but knowing it had potential to be a great time.
The night before the game I was introduced to Tim Klund (the organizer of the event), Ryan Weaver, and Cristina Coria- and each of them blew me away with their amazing personal stories. Weaver is a combat veteran, Gold Star Family member- not once- but TWICE, as he lost both his brother and brother-in-law in combat. His journey of rising to a successful country music star is unlike any others.
Coria is a retired veteran of the police force. She has survived many things in her life to include tragically losing her father at the age of 12, being hit (and temporarily paralyzed) by a drunk driver, and a gunshot wound that she barely escaped with her life. She went on to become a guest on the reality TV show Survivor.
What captivated me the most with both of these two was their enthusiasm and kindness. They were survivors. They had been through the ringer. And all they wanted to do was to help others that were going through an even more difficult time.
The next night I set up my table of books and began meeting and speaking with many of the guests in the audience. After the game, the night continued on, and I met the players- celebrities and veterans. The theme was resounding. Everyone was here for a reason. They all had stories. They all had endured some of life’s greatest hardships, but it didn’t break them. And they were here to make sure no one else would break.
At one point, I looked out from the top of the stadium at the audience and the players under the lights. It was a complete rainbow. They all stood together- black, white, Hispanic, Asian- all colors and nationalities, from all parts of the country. Everyone had a story about how they got there. Everyone had ties to or were there to support the military in one way or another. The veterans weren’t in a war overseas anymore, but they were still fighting for their brothers and sisters standing next to them. They were still fighting for the people of our country.