Reaching the Unknown Listener

At SongwritingWIth:Soldiers, we post nearly every song written at a retreat onto our website to make it easy for anyone to listen and share. Thanks to social media outlets, such as Facebook, we are able to hear from some of those “strangers” out in the world who have heard our songs. We’d like to share a recent post that perfectly describes the impact of creating art from truth and putting it out into the world. We are grateful to this woman for sharing the impact our songs have had on her and, we hope, countless others.

“I found out about this organization three weeks ago. Since that time, I have told and shared it with so many and listened to almost every song more than once.

I am a mother of two boys that were deployed after 9/11 —one returned with determination to continue his career to be a voice against the ones calling the shots, yet were not there, and the ones who were, but had never been outside the wire.

The other came back a different person and he will never be the same.

I am also an aunt, daughter, granddaughter and wife of all who served. I cannot tell you what these songs meant to me. As a mom, you can’t understand what it was like for them. They certainly came home men, so if they talked at all, it wasn’t to their mom. I remember not knowing what to say or do. I found out quickly if you are going to cry, do not do it in front of them. You want so badly to help them, because as their mother you see in their eyes… and I swear sometimes they were empty and sometimes angry or anguished or terrified and it breaks your heart in a million pieces, because you know you can’t know what it was like and they can’t unsee it.

As a mom you see the man they are and respect that, but you can also remember like it was yesterday, when they ran to you as little boys if they got hurt or scared. And it certainly brings up a whole new side of yourself when you hear the self-serving political parties, or somebody says, ‘They only joined to get a free education…’ when you know the only reason they went was because they love this country.

Thank you for sharing your stories because many of them help me as a mother understand better. It doesn’t hurt any less, but I understand so much more. Thank you.”

Songwriter Will Kimbrough’s guitar case. Photo: Jake Herrle