You know how we love to see movies or read books about people that inspire us? It's like when you see a movie about someone who struggles against all odds and even though they get hurt (physically or emotionally) they keep going. In the end they might not get exactly what they were shooting for, that is unless you are the director of the movie, and your goal was to move the viewer emotionally and reinforce in them that there is always hope.
Who hasn't seen those movies? But have you ever had a friend who was like that? Someone that no matter what they do, they always seem to see beyond what you or I can perceive and divine out a larger truth that, when revealed, inspires us, makes us ask more of ourselves? Well I have one, his name is Francisco Martinez, or Paco for short.
Briefly, I met Paco 13 years ago when we met at my first job in Puerto Rico. He later worked for me as I moved my way up in the company. In many ways, we were kindred spirits from the start as we were both veterans and as such, shared many beliefs instilled in us from our military service. But further than that, he was also someone who was always trying to better himself. He was never willing to rest upon his success, plus he was one of the few people I've ever met that loved computers more than me, which is saying a lot.
As we each went through many different challenges in our individual lives, he always remained a loyal friend. However, nothing could have prepared us for the life shattering loss of his son (Francisco G. Martinez, Pauito) to a sniper in Iraq. On March 20th, 2003 Paco's life descended into hell as the news of his son's death came knocking on his door.
As the war in Iraq raged on, so did the war within Paco's soul. When the news of Abu Ghraib broke across our television screens a transformation began within him. A staircase began to emerge that would lead him out of hell. As he followed his escape from hell, he discovered a way to transform his pain into service. He finally realized that in order to honor the sacrifice his son had made he must also follow him. So at 43 years of age, he re-enlisted into the Ari Force Reserves and began once again to serve his country.
Yesterday, Paco took yet another transformational step in his life and his story when he began a six month deployment to Iraq. Something quite interesting about this story is how available it is through Paco's blog, starting with the initial announcement of his son's death, up until the most recent announcement of his deployment to Iraq, all of it is online and available for you to experience. If you want to learn about duty, if you want to learn about service, if you want to see how far some people are willing to go to do what they think is right, I encourage you to follow Paco's story.
I hope you'll join with me to honor Paco's son, and to also wish Paco a safe and quick return from Iraq. You're also invited to follow along with his tour in Iraq because to the best of his abilities he has promised to share with everyone his experience through his blog. ¡Vaya Con Dios Paco! -- Kevin Shockey
This article by Kevin Shockey was originally published on July 14 in Donde Quiera. Check out this blog from Puerto Rico at http://blog.dondees.com. Photos courtesy of Donde Quiera.
Here's a link to Paco's Blog: