While Mark Schultz may worry about not hearing enough of other people’s stories, he has heard quite a few that have changed his life. On his third release, Stories and Songs, he recorded "Letters from War," a song based on the experiences of his great grandmother and her son. Here’s the story, in Mark’s own words, of how that song came to be:
I was doing a show in Portland, Maine, and I was surprised to see my Cousin Ed and his family, who live in Boston, at the concert. Ed and my Great Aunt Dolly had been compiling information about my great grandma. They wanted to put together her life story through her diaries, letters and even some stories that she told to Ed that he had a chance to videotape before she passed away.
One section of her diary that really struck me was from 1943 when she had three sons out of four who were serving in World War II. I read the letters that she wrote back and forth to her sons. They were extremely grateful to be a family and loved each other very much. My mind kept drifting to the movie Saving Private Ryan with her having three sons in the war and with one of her son’s actually in the middle of Germany.
My great grandma was a strong and independent woman who loved God with her whole heart and instilled that in her children as well. She wrote how she would pray every night that God would keep her boys safe and until that day, God willing, that everyone of them would make it home again.
When my Cousin Ed was leaving the concert he told me: "Your great grandma lived an incredible life. I think you will find some inspiration in these diaries to write an amazing song."
He was right and not only was I inspired to write "Letters From War," but I also got to discover who my great grandma really was down deep inside; and it made me even prouder to be a part of my family.