After serving his country honorably from 2000-2004, Marine veteran John Preston knew he wanted to not only rock the world with his incredible music, but make a difference in the lives of veterans.
He’s no stranger to helping out his brothers and sisters in arms, as he routinely donates funds from his projects to assist veterans and their families who are now faced with challenges brought on by the war. So when he heard Taylor Strong’sÂ story, he knew immediately he wanted to become involved.
Taylor was anxiously awaiting her husband Charles’ return home from Afghanistan. She was aboutÂ to give birth to their first baby, andÂ her husband had just one lastÂ mission outside of the wire, and then he would be coming back home to her. But tragically, Charles would never see his wife or their baby girl Sophie,Â as he was killed in action while on that mission with his unit overseas.
When Preston heard the tragic news through a mutual friend, heÂ knew immediately he hadÂ to write a song about Charles and Taylor,Â and recalls his emotions as he sat down at the piano that day to craft the lyrics. But he was not at all prepared for what would happen next.
“This was spiritual for me, and I felt like Charles was using me as a conduit. I sat down with no idea or concept of the song, and the song just formed itself…it took literally 20 minutes. This was different, and I felt incredibly emotional. Then the first lines of the song came out: ‘One more time that I must cross this line and I’m home.’ I thought of the times Â I went outside the wire. I remembered the letter I kept in my pocket where I wrote my last goodbyes to my family. I thought about Charles, and what it must’ve been like for his wife.
I believe this mans spirit is very powerful. I really believe that he reached out to me after his death and is the reason this all happened.”
Preston says he wrote the song before he ever met Taylor, and was nervous about her hearing the song, as he wanted to adequately depict Charles.
“Taylor heard the songÂ for the first time on Mother’s Day (her first Mother’s Day ever). I had reached out to my friend’s son who was a team member of Charles, and was with him when he passed. He and I spoke, and I had asked him to share the song with Taylor. I was scared to death to talk to her. I wasn’t sure if what I had written had properly depicted her husband…..Taylor told me it was almost like reading one of his letters when she heard it for the first time.”
Preston also wanted to do a music video, and could see it in his mind’s eye. He really wanted Taylor to be involved with the video, and eventually contacted her and asked if she would play herself.
“I had only talked to Taylor once when I called her about the video. I eventually asked her to play herself and was so relieved when she told me that no one else should do the part. She at this point did not understand why she was so important in all of this. She had several moments of doubt and we spoke several times so I could assure her that we were going to change the world together. I never expected her to be so brave.Â Taylor was so brave in playing herself. I gave her all rights to cut any scene we had created and with that we decided not to depict her receiving a letter informing her of Charles’s fate.Â She is brave and has the same intentions as I do. To remind this country we are still fighting a war, to have our hero’s remembered, and to honor Charles for his heroism.”
Preston says that he and Taylor share the same goal with the song, which is to remind America that the war is still not over. Our military men and women and their families often face an entirely new battle as they return from the battlefield, and begin the process of healing the physical and mental scars that so often afflictsÂ them.
“We are still fighting a war! There are Marines in Iraq, right now!Â There are Marines in Afghanistan, right now! There are Marines in Syria, right now! Charles Strong was killed in combat on September 15th of 2014. It is September of 2015. Sergeant Strong died a year ago. Not 10 years ago when I was there, not 3 years ago when the war was supposedly ‘over.’ He died a year ago!”
“This song and video is about not just pointing that out but reminding us that we are human. That these marines, soldiers, airmen, and sailors are people with families and are the sole reason we can wake up and go get our fu*****Â starbucks in the morning. Charles Strong is a hero and should not just be honored on one Holliday that forces people to remember. We should not have to be forced to remember his name. There are people massacring others on the other side of the world right now. Killing all that don’t believe what they believe and doing it in brutal fashion. These people are true evil and plan to take over the entire world with their crazed ideology. A modern day genocide and we could be a target just as quickly as the next. Why are we not? Because we are still fighting a war! Because we are the strongest most amazing military power on earth and we will not bow to madness. We will eradicate the enemy weather we make the news or not. While you are wondering if Kim and Kanye’s outfits matched today remember that there is a warrior, a father, a son, a husband, a hero starring down the sights at evil and will be pulling the trigger for your freedom!”
“I have heard he was no ordinary man. He was a man that it seems all were better if they had known or met him. I was told that he was the type of person that when in a room with a group of people the group would gravitate towards him. He loved to work on motorcycles and his truck. He was big on the idea of being a father and had already started buying baby clothes for Sophie while he was in Afghanistan.”
What an incredible story! You can purchase Preston’s album on iTunes HERE. He is donating 30% of all profits directly to Taylor and her baby Sophie.