'Soldier' and 'Fallout' written and performed by Mark Dakota
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About SoldierWall.comHi, my name is Mark Dakota. I wanted to let everyone know why we put up SoldierWall, so hereís the story. It really starts with the song Soldier. I wrote the song one night, after watching a television show about the Soldiers in Iraq and their families back home. I instantly saw a human side to the situation that hadnít fully hit me before this. I was very grateful and humbled by what these men and woman and their families sacrifice for all of us. I was driving to the store and still thinking about what I had seen. When I pulled into the WalMart parking lot (not a plug, just happened to be WalMart) I grabbed my guitar from the back seat of my truck, and began to play. Iím not kidding when I say the song pretty much wrote itself at that point. Usually I would write songs from my perspective, this was one of the first songs I truly wrote, trying to walk in the shoes of another.. I knew I couldnít know exactly what it would be like without experiencing it first hand. However I do know weíre all human and have common hopes, fears, and emotions, so I just did the best I could.
After the song was finished, I instantly had a sense that it wasnít really mine, it wasnít for me. Although I wrote it, the inspiration came from the lives of others. I felt this song was meant to serve a purpose. I was hoping the song would do a little to let men and women in the military and their families know there are people out there that deeply respect, and appreciate them. I also had the hope it would connect with people out there that may not normally take the time to stop and really think about everything thatís at stake.
Right away a few friends volunteered to help me record the song. I owe a great thanks to Phill Warner (bass, backing vocals) Miguel Barrera (drums), Brad Barth (owner of audio voyage studios), Steve Johnson (engineer) and Josh Beaman (engineer).
We started in the studio. We were actually working on a whole album, and laboring over every song, however this one just worked itself out really fast, and was done before all the others.
I knew two things, one I wanted this song to be out in the world, and two I didn\'t need to make money from the song. Unlike my past musical endeavors, where I was pursuing a commercial career along side my artistic career, I had no desire for that with Soldier. So before our album was even done, I got on Myspace and decided to put Soldier up, let anyone download it for free, and I committed that all royalties I make from Soldier would be donated to the families of Soldiers that didnít make it home, and after a soldier wrote to me and explained another area where there is great need, I also decided the royalties would be donated to disabled veterans. This commitment has and always will stand.
I put the song up on Myspace and was immediately nervous. I was worried that Soldiers or their families would hear it and tell me I didnít get it, and the song had not been done properly. The exact opposite happened. Right away soldiers and heir families started to write to me, thanking me and telling me that they loved the song and were passing it on. I found this extremely humbling, because I was the one that was grateful to them. I started getting more and more people writing to me, letting me know they really liked the song, and were passing it on to others through email. I made many friends in this period of time, and am continuing to make new friends daily. I also learned a lot about the reality behind what we see in the news. I found a great deal of perspective in the words of all these men and women and their families. Iím very thankful for this.
One day I opened an email from a woman telling me the song meant a lot to her and her family, and attached was a picture of her brother in law. He had been killed in action. I opened the image. I could see honor and intensity in his eyes. I realized this person that owed me nothing had sacrificed his life for me. Tears began to fall, and everything that was happening with Soldier, combined with this image, had a powerful effect on me. The reality was right there, and I couldnít turn away. At this point I knew I had to do something to connect images of these men and women, and the song. I knew this combination would impact others as it did me. I wanted people to feel what I was feeling. Especially people like me that had basically been informed by television, and news papers, yet had no first hand experience. My gratitude only grew, and I wanted to find a way to honor and give thanks to all the men and women serving in our armed forces.
I decided to make a slide show, to play along with Soldier on my web page. I put up a bulletin asking if anyone had pictures, and I received so many, that I knew I had a problem. Soldier is only three and a half minutes long, I couldnít get ever picture in. I made the slide show with the first pictures I received, however I knew I was going to need to find another way. Finally I had the idea for SoldierWall, I could picture it right away, and it would allow anyone to post pictures of anyone that has served in the U.S. military past or present, while the music played. It was a simple idea but I knew I couldn\'t do it alone.
I had the idea in mind for awhile, yet hadnít really figured out how to build it. I didn\'t have money to hire someone so I just kept it in mind. Then one day I was telling my friend John Campbell about the idea, and right away he offered to help me make the site for free. He spent a lot of time working on the site, and was very patient as we tested it and finally completed the page. I owe a great thanks to John for all he has done and his continued help.
We put the page up on a Saturday night at 11pm, I sent out a bulletin on Myspace, and here we are two days later, and there are over 200 images, and the site has already had over 1,500 unique visitors. Our hope is that SoldierWall will be passed on to everyone that has a computer and that the people that may not always take the time to stop and think about our military\'s men and women and their families, will stop, and will remember there are real people and families behind all the news stories. In addition I hope the Men and Women that currently serve, or have served in our armed forces, and their families, will know there are many people that are extremely thankful for their sacrifice, and will never take any of their courage and commitment for granted.
p.s. SoldierWall is a work in progress so if you have any thoughts, ideas, or questions please feel free to write me at MarkDakotaMusic@yahoo.com