Songs that Remind me of the Marines, my Silent Heroes

Songs Remind me of Silent Heroes

Music evokes vibrant images and these three tunes are only a few of the songs that remind me of the fighting Marines, the main characters from my book Silent Heroes.
I mostly do my writing in a quiet space, listening to the words playing in my mind, but every so often I turn to music for inspiration, for its regular or progressive rhythm if I must describe a battle scene, or for the emotions it stirs when I am faced with a life-and-death situation.

Five Finger Death Punch – ‘Wrong Side Of Heaven’

This is a heart-wrenching musical video about the futility of war, its real, hideous face and the reality we choose not to acknowledge: that wars change – for the worst – the lives of all those involved in them, soldiers too. It was also one of the songs that also inspired me to write Silent Heroes.

‘Arms wide open
I stand alone
I’m no hero and I’m not made of stone
Right or wrong
I can hardly tell
I’m on the wrong side of heaven and the righteous side of hell
The wrong side of heaven and the righteous side,
The righteous side of hell ‘

Songwriters: Ivan Moody / Jeremy Spencer / Kevin Churko / Thomas Jason Grinstead / Zoltan Bathory
Wrong Side of Heaven lyrics © Sony/ATV. Find the lyrics here.

The White Stripes – ‘Seven Nation Army’

Although this song is about how shallow gossip is, I like the feeling of loneliness it evokes, the solitude of those caught under the spotlight. I think that soldiers, through the nature of their occupation, are under the spotlight, permanently in the news, yet very few spectators grasp the real meaning of their sacrifice.

‘And I’m talking to myself at night
Because I can’t forget
Back and forth through my mind
Behind a cigarette
And the message coming from my eyes
Says leave it alone.’

Seven Nation Army by The White Stripes, lyrics © Universal Music Publishing Group. Find lyrics here.

Another one of the songs that inspired me when writing about the Marines in Silent Heroes is:

Prokofiev – ‘Dance of the Knights’

I listened to this song often when working on my battle scenes, although it is part of his Romeo and Juliet ballet. I found it strongly related to death. The loud, rhythmic beginning is very war-like in a dignifying way. The second, pianissimo part, speaks of the Angel of Death, but of the soldiers’ loneliness on the battlefield as well.

‘Dunn turned his head to respond. That’s when his whole body disappeared into a deafening blast of rocks, leaves, smoke, and blood.
That day it rained with dirt.
Conde felt his body thrown to the ground and he landed on his back, dirt in his mouth, dust all over his face. The wave had gone right through him.
Behind him, everyone threw themselves around looking for cover, weapons at the ready.
The dust was still settling on the road ahead when Conde jumped to his feet, yelling Dunn’s name.
“Medic, over here!”
He could taste blood and it smelled like charred flesh.
Was he talking? He couldn’t hear himself, just a constant ring in his ears.
“Medic, over here!” he yelled, again and again, wiping dust and water from his eyes and looking all over the ground for Dunn. The acrid air made him choke. It smelled of burned tyres and ammonia.
Focus, Conde. Focus!
Just ahead of him Dunn was laying on his back, legs sprawled, not moving. Conde felt his body freeze in panic. Was Dunn dead? Please, no! He forced himself to move ahead, his mind racing in circles, remembering what had to be done in a first aid combat situation. That’s when he heard Dunn moaning.
Blood was sipping through his left leg. Dunn was trying to feel it, but his left hand was missing its fingers. Tourniquet! It flashed through Conde’s mind and his body snapped in motion, the Marine having tightened the first tourniquet around Dunn’s left leg before their medic arrived on the scene.
“Easy, buddy, stay with me,” said Conde trying to see if Dunn’s eyes were open or closed but the blood and dust caking the fallen Marine’s face made things difficult. Conde felt like he was in a dream, the one where he would try to open his eyes as large as he could, still no image would form. Eventually, the white of Dunn’s eyes shone through.
“We got you, buddy. We got you,” said the medic, feverishly wrapping combat gauze over the Marine’s hands. The white bandage looked like show balls against the bloody background. But not for long.
“Don’t give up. I’ll beat you up if you dare giving up, Sarge! You hear me?!” Conde’s voice came out croaky.
“Easy, Conde,” someone said nearby and Kent kneeled, helping hold Dunn’s hands upright.
“Nice and easy.”
“We got you, Dunn.”
“Someone call MEDEVAC!” Conde yelled.
“Easy, buddy. Already done. They’re on their way.”
“Where’s a landing strip over here?”
Conde wiped dust and water from his eyes again, leaving strikes of blood behind.
“Damn rain!
“Where are they going to land, Sarge? There is no freaking landing area here, only freaking trees! Damn trees!” the Marine panicked.
“It’s okay, man. They’ll drop a cord for us, said Kent” ‘

Silent Heroes by Patricia Furstenberg
Silent Heroes: When Love and Values Are Worth Fighting for. Songs-Remind-Marines-Silent-Heroes
Silent Heroes: When Love and Values Are Worth Fighting for – New Contemporary Fiction by Patricia Furstenberg

You can BUY Silent Heroes from Amazon UK, Amazon US, Amazon Australia, Amazon Canada, or Amazon Worldwide: link here to your preferred Amazon website.

These are the songs that remind me of the Marines depicted in Silent Heroes. Next time I’ll tell you about the songs I listened to to stir emotions rooted in the lives of the Afghan people.

The #MusicMonday meme was created by Drew @ The Tattooed Book Geek. You can pick a song that you really like and share it on Monday. I thoroughly enjoyed this blog feature on Mischenko’s lovely blog, ReadRantRockandroll .

Which songs inspire you? Which songs you find yourself returning to?

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Rafik’s Journey in Silent Heroes. An Afghan Village

Welcome to Rafik’s journey. The youngest character in Silent Heroes, Rafik travels from his Afghan village of Nauzad all around Afghanistan. It isn’t a journey made by choice, but out of necessity and bravery.

A critical political hot-spot for the past two millennia, Afghanistan is a country often mentioned in news headlines, yet one that few people choose to think of, and even fewer are aware of its natural beauty.

Life for Afghan children, the true Silent Heroes of any Afghan village

How was your life when you were a child of eight years old? When I was Rafik’s age, I wouldn’t even dream of going around the town on my own. My grandmother or my parents would still walk me to school. Yet Rafik and his friends venture daily outside their village.

boy and girl. Silent Heroes Afghan village
An Afghan boy a little younger than Rafik

They start their walk early, right after sunrise. It is a 10 kilometers march to the nearby stream to collect water for drinking, washing and cooking. Then they tread back, bent under the unforgiving Afghan sun and the liquid weight of their buckets and yellow plastic containers, for another 10 kilometers, home.

The water sings while their small feet dance on the hot sand. Sometimes a few drops would spill and the youngest children would laugh to see them roll away over land so dry that not even water can penetrate it. The older ones would scold them. Water is precious and they don’t want to take this journey again, later in the day. The sun is unforgiving and so are the landmines that litter the ground between their village and the stream, like weeds sprouting after rain, but planted by Taliban. So the youngest ones would burst into tears. That one word, Taliban, has this effect on them, as it has on their older sisters and their mothers.

Here, in Afghanistan, one does not need folk tales with monsters to tell their young. To scare them. Here, in Afghanistan, the monsters are real and they walk between the people.

Once a well-known bazaar, today Nauzad village, where Rafik lives with his mother and older sister, is no more than a ghost town, a dusty landmark lost in the shrub-lined valley of the Nauzad river. The only majestic landmark that still stands is that of the Hindu Kush Mountains, profiling in the horizon. With all their men gone to war, life has become a way of simply surviving from one day to the next, the hot climate being just as unforgiving as the Taliban insurgent group operating in the mountainous area rising in the north.

In the beginning of Silent Heroes Rafik is entrusted with a life-and-death mission…

‘Between their skirts, a skinny boy of eight moved along.’

‘Rafik wiped the salty drops invading his eyes with the dusty sleeve of his shirt, yellow-tinged by time and wear. His head was ablaze and sweat trickled down his neck, soaking the back of his pants. His feet bounced on the already hot sand. The boy was sure they looked like the naan his mom used to cook in the tandoor. Back when flour was still available. He would crawl behind her and grab fresh bread out of the basket to share with his friend. She would laugh and playfully snap at him. But not anymore. For the last year there had been no one for him to share his naan with.
One morning, his friend had left to fetch water and never returned. They found him on the field, halved by an IED.
Rafik felt his chest ready to explode with the pain of memories and wiped his eyes again, although no tears came. The rough sleeve against his face helped relieve the agony in his chest.’

Silent Heroes by Patricia Furstenberg
Afghan sunset over Hindu Kush mountains
an Afghan sunset

Placing an entire country on Google maps

I invite you to open Google maps and search for Afghanistan. Now zoom in. How many places can you actually visit? Why do you think it is still impossible to zoom into Afghan locations?

Did you know that the Afghan maps you do see today on Google Maps were not visible before October 2011? Most of Afghanistan was pretty much off the map.
A man named Hasen Poreya and his friends, the Afghan Map Makers, all volunteers, walked around Herat with pen and pencil in hand and filled in all the missing details from Google maps.

Herat is Afghanistan’s third largest city and it was a major historical landmark along the silk road. The Afghan Map Makers have put streets, parks and even the Herat University on the map – so that people from all over the world can discover their town all over again. They, too, are the Silent Heroes of any Afghan village.

Afghanistan before and after the Map Makers have added details on Google Maps
Afghanistan, before and after the Map Makers have added details on Google Maps (source, Google Maps blog)

Where will Rafik travel next?
Come back in a few days to find out – or subscribe to my blog posts.

Until then, you might like to read:
5 Remarkable Places You Will Want to Visit After Reading Silent Heroes, When Love and Values Are Worth Fighting

You can BUY Silent Heroes from Amazon UK, Amazon US, Amazon Australia, Amazon Canada, or Amazon Worldwide: link here to your preferred Amazon website.

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5 Secrets Revealed in Silent Heroes. The Humanity of U.S. Marines

5. Birthday Cake made of a soldier's meal ready to eat, MRE - heartbreaking in its humanity.

While researching for my latest book, contemporary fiction Silent Heroes, I discovered five secrets which I later revealed in my novel: one of them about the U.S. Marines’ true sacrifices. The other four secrets involve a hidden underground fortress, the hush-hushed holes in the military chain of command, a secret too dangerous to even be researched and shared, involving the Taliban, and one inconceivable in the 21st century, involving women’s rights.

Secrets revealed: U.S. Marines’ lifestyle in a war zone forward operating base, FOB

secrets revealed U.S. Marines Silent Heroes
Secrets revealed: U.S. Marines’ humanity and lifestyle at war

So many simple things we often take for granted, like the song of a bird, the peace of the early morning, or a birthday cake. These are all highly-priced commodities in a military base in Afghanistan. The smaller sized bases often don’t have a cook (or didn’t used to, at the very beginning of the War in Afghanistan), thus food reaches the soldiers in form of meals ready to eat, MREs.
MRE First Strike is provided to soldiers when they go on a mission outside the base. These include three meals in one pack, enough food for an entire day. The MREs have numbers, each number corresponding to a different menu.

A First Strike MRE contains enough food to last a U’S. soldier for an entire day. There are, individually wrapped: a bag of tuna, beef sandwich, tortillas, crackers, apple sauce, lemon pudding cake, dessert bar, corn nuggets, cheese spread, mayonnaise, pepper sauce, nut & raisins mix, various flavors energy bars, instant coffee, lemon-flavored powder beverage in a level-marked waterproof bag, also a tropical punch one, coffee creamer, coffee, sugar, salt, chewing gum, moist towel, napkins, matches, and a trash bag. All this amazing information was sourced from (but not limited to) Crazy Russian’s Hacker’s video. Have a look, he is extremely entertaining. It was my son who first introduced me to Taras Kulakov’ videos 🙂

secrets revealed Marines sacrifices

More secrets revealed regarding all Marines’ sacrifices.

Birthday Cake made of a soldier’s meal ready to eat, MRE – heartbreaking in its humanity.

When one of your platoon mates turns 21 and you are all deployed in Afghanistan, no way to source a cake with blue and red icing – what do you do? You improvise the best that you can:

‘Right now, the two fellow Marines were assembling a surprise birthday cake for Seb by stacking together prepacked slices of pound cake, peanut butter cookies, Rice Krispies treats, jams and dessert bars, all saved from their military rations. Although FOB Day had a pretty good cook, birthday cakes were not part of the Marines’ menu. It’s been Dunn’s idea to fashion this MRE-sourced cake.
“After all, one turns 21 but once in his life,” he said.’

Silent Heroes

Imagine those U.S. Marines, away from their homes for three, six months at a time, having little means of communications with the family left behind, saving their rations to put together a single serving of birthday cake. Because it is their mate’s birthday and they want to celebrate it, to bring some home-feel to the cruelty of war. Create an oasis of serenity in the midst of the battlefield.
You can celebrate this birthday alongside the U’S. Marines fighting in Silent Heroes. They would surely appreciate your presence, as it will bring that home-feeling to a war-torn, sun-blazed piece of land that no one knows, anymore, why they still fight over.

secrets revealed Marines sacrifices. family

Are you ready to delve into the secrets revealed in Silent Heroes, involving the U.S. Marines, their bravery and sacrifices?

Silent Heroes. secrets revealed U.S. MarinesAmazon 5 Stars Review:
“Silent Heroes will prompt you to pause and think several times. It serves as a reminder of the ongoing, long-term struggles these people have endured under the Taliban and how lucky many of us are to live our lives as we want. You will feel both pride and sadness as you read about the Marines and the experiences of their teams. But you will also feel joy and hope about the sacrifices that are made for us each day.  Silent Heroes is an incredible novel that I highly recommend. Regardless of your usual preferred genre, this is an excellent read that is realistic, full of well-developed characters, and will stay in your heart and mind long after finishing.”

You can BUY Silent Heroes from Amazon UK, Amazon US, Amazon Australia, Amazon Canada, or Amazon Worldwide: link here to your preferred Amazon website.

secrets revealed Marines sacrifices
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5 Secrets Revealed in Silent Heroes. Women’s Rights under Taliban

Women killed for teaching girls to read - inconceivable in the 21st century

Sometimes, a truth so inconceivable in its existence during the 21st century, like women’s rights under Taliban, is overlooked by mass-media and only revealed in a book: Silent Heroes, When Love and Values Are Worth Fighting for.

My dream was to write a fictional story true to the lives of those caught in the War in Afghanistan: civilians and soldiers, Afghan populace and the Taliban. Reveal secrets, if need be. Thus, Silent Heroes was born.

silent heroes women's rights Taliban
Secrets revealed in Silent Heroes: women’s rights Taliban rule

Taliban, the spiritual weapon of the Afghan Nation

Afghanistan is a country nick-named as “unconquerable” and “the graveyard of empires”. It was a valuable location along the Silk Road and throughout centuries the Afghan land was used as a pawn between various dynasties and empires: of Alexander the Great, Muslim Arabs, the Mongols, the British quite a few times, then the Soviet Union. The Mujahedeen forces successfully opposed the Soviet troops through guerrilla tactics and in 1996 the Taliban government finally established its totalitarian Islamic State, The Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan. Taliban ruled through terror and extremism and it could only be removed from power by the use of armed forces by the United States armed forces and their allies.

Women executed by Taliban for teaching girls to read – inconceivable in the 21st century

‘Afghan women live in constant fear and nine out of then are victims of domestic abuse. Warlords still thrive and power is gained through violence and intimidation and, in some parts of Afghanistan, the Taliban is still seen as a protector of the populace. A populace who has one too any empires’ gravestones in their backyard. As soon as your military forces will withdraw from Afghanistan, and one day they will, this country will revert to the lawless, conflict-ridden landscape that it was in the eighties, after the Soviet occupation, and the U.S. Nation-Building will join the other empires’ tombstones.’

Silent Heroes
silent heroes women's rights Taliban

But the Taliban still thrives, partially because the Afghan populace has seen one too many empires taking over their land under the pretense of protection and progress – only to take advantage of their resources, mainly poppy production, and then leave. So they lost faith in any foreign power, no matter the promises it made.

‘The Taliban has executed Afghans who dared vote in the Presidential elections of 2004. People in my village were scared that they won’t stay alive for much longer if they went to vote because the Talibans were searching everyone’s voter registration cards.’

Silent Heroes

Yet Afghanistan had known times of peace, prosperous times, when education boomed and women could study at university taking subjects that were considered extravagant, such as communism, feminism, and capitalism, taught by foreign-educated scholars.
That was once upon a time. Now, the extremist Taliban take advantage of the village men away at war and hold public executions, killing any woman who dares teach young girls to read using only an old, tattered book, hidden in her tiny kitchen.

It is all part of the unknown, harsh reality of the 21st century. Taliban executes women who dare teach young girls to read under the false pretext of breaking a law of the Islamic Religion.

As an authoress, I am the resultant force of the books I read. As a woman, I am the resultant force of the women who influenced my life – my mother, my grandmothers, my daughter, my girl friends, my female role models. As a human being, I am one of the forces shaping my children’s future; albeit a tiny one, I can point forward and upwards.
Scientia potetia est.

The simplest way to enjoy coffee? Pair it with an interesting book.
The simplest way to enjoy coffee? Pair it with an interesting book.

Amazon Review: “Oh, how I loved and admired Emma Dil and her brother Ratik. Their bravery tugged my heartstring and reminded me that for some children a world of conflict is the norm. The actions of the resilient villagers remained with me long after I turned the last page.
An atmospheric novel that oozes tension, sadness and a little glimmer of hope for humanity.”

You can BUY Silent Heroes from Amazon UK, Amazon US, Amazon Australia, Amazon Canada, or Amazon Worldwide: link here to your preferred Amazon website.

After the mysterious underground fortress, the lacunae in the military chain of command and a diabolic secret lair, there is one more secret to be revealed in this series of 5 Secrets in Silent Heroes.
Have I saved the best for last?
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silent heroes women’s rights Taliban silent heroes women’s rights Taliban
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5 Secrets Revealed in Silent Heroes. Taliban’s Secret Lair

Taliban's secret lifestyle in their Hindu Kush hiding - too dangerous to be researched or shared

I enjoy the excitement, the thrill secrecy puts in a novel. To me, dark mysteries always improve a book’s plot, especially when they add that ultimate twist to the story. And when that bit information is slightly out of reach, the enigma surrounding it is so much more appealing. In my latest book of contemporary fiction, Silent Heroes, I revealed such an obscure enigma: Taliban’s secret lair.

In Silent Heroes I wanted to portray both sides of the War in Afghanistan: the soldiers fighting the battles and the civilians caught in it. The U.S. Marines and their allies, but also the Taliban insurgents.

Taliban’s secret lair – too dangerous to be researched

I revealed Taliban's secret lair in Silent Heroes
I Silent Heroes I reveal Taliban’s secret lair

Somewhere in the Hindu Kush mountainous range of Afghanistan, the Taliban lies in hiding.

‘They are the Taliban warriors and their leader, the man with a scarred face, is Davron. There is a 400 000 U.S. dollars prize on his head. His men are proud to fight under his command. Davron sees himself as a saint, Allah’s chosen one. Once he even forgave a man who tried to assassinate him. Thus, he must be a saint.’

Silent Heroes

There is limited information available regarding Taliban’s lifestyle. Where they hide, how they pass their time, how they connect with each other. Do they have families? Children? Do they have fears, beliefs?

Silent Heroes. I revealed Taliban's secret lair

While researching for Silent Heroes I was lucky to discover such information, to glance behind enemy lines, to see these bearded men without their faces covered, hear them pray together and catch a glimpse at the laughter of their children. But also feel my skin crawl while listening to their banter and reasoning behind their killer war.
In Silent Heroes you will have a chance to meet the Taliban for yourself, face to face.

Dare join me while I reveal Taliban’s secret lair?

In Silent Heroes you can read a detailed description of Taliban’s whereabouts, from their day to day activities to their songs, their prayers and their philosophy of life and war.

revealed Taliban's secret lair

5 STARS Amazon Review:
“Silent Heroes will prompt you to pause and think several times. It serves as a reminder of the ongoing, long-term struggles these people have endured under the Taliban and how lucky many of us are to live our lives as we want. You will feel both pride and sadness as you read about the Marines and the experiences of their teams. But you will also feel joy and hope about the sacrifices that are made for us each day.  Silent Heroes is an incredible novel that I highly recommend. Regardless of your usual preferred genre, this is an excellent read that is realistic, full of well-developed characters, and will stay in your heart and mind long after finishing.” 

You can BUY Silent Heroes from Amazon UK, Amazon US, Amazon Australia, Amazon Canada, or Amazon Worldwide: link here to your preferred Amazon website.

Have you read already about the previous two secrets revealed in Silent Heroes?

5 Secrets Revealed in Silent Heroes. The Military Chain of Command

5 Secrets Revealed in Silent Heroes. A Mysterious Underground Fortress

Two more secrets included in Silent Heroes will be revealed soon. One is unthinkable for a the 21st century lifestyle, the other one heart-warming in its humanity. Subscribe to my newsletter and be sure you won’t miss them!

revealed Taliban’s secret lair
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