I’m giving you a piece of the new book today. I guess this is kind of the book’s pre-birthday, since it will be released on Veterans Day of next year. The book (and songs) revolved around letters from the solider in this photo, but who writes him back will remain a mystery for now.

And as for the piece of the new book, this is from the moments after I read the first letter from the solider:

I get up from my desk with the letter still in hand and walk upstairs from the studio to the first notes of the national anthem coming through the tinny television speakers.

Football is on. I stop at the top of the stairs and this seems to happen every time football is on and I’m alone in my living room. I put my hand over my heart and sing along and the air catches in my throat and while I’m proud to be an American, just like I’m proud to be my parents’ kid and my dog’s dad, I don’t think it’s pride that makes the air catch in my throat.

When I see the images on television of the men and women in uniform carrying the flag, and the jets flying overhead and the fireworks going off and the players crossing themselves, somewhere deep in me the uniform and jets and flag and fireworks and players crossing themselves become something else.

The men and women in uniform become those who fight, the jets become how they fight, and the fireworks become the fight.

And the flag becomes the freedom they fight for, if not now, then in another era when freedom was threatened, the same freedom that allows those players to cross themselves, and for that I am grateful, enough to almost cry during the national anthem at a football game in the sacred solitary freedom of my living room.

Happy Veterans Day.