What are you doing this 4th of July?
Hopefully your Independence Day will be filled with family and friends enjoying delicious edibles copied from Pinterest and taking in some awe-inspiring fireworks shortly after the sun sets.
While you celebrate on Wednesday with parades, barbecues, picnics, concerts, baseball games, family reunions, and memorial ceremonies, I’d like for you to also think about the Means family. Specifically, Ryan Means.
Ryan kept a journal in the days and years following the tragedy of 9/11. He documented the process by which he allowed his loss to drive him to greatness. Throughout his journey, he signed every email update with Neil Young’s hit title, “Keep on Rockin’ in the Free World” showing the pride he had in his duty to protect our country.
An excerpt from his journal, “Perception is everything. As I walk down the streets and avenues of NYC, I see nothing but beauty and joyous life, sometimes so intense that my heart feels like it may explode. I’m unable to contain my goofy smile, and I struggle to contain my spontaneous laughter so as not to scare others. I love this city…this country.”
Ryan’s zest for soaking up every ounce that life had to offer was soon shared with a beautiful soul named Heather.
Knowing their relationship would be something extraordinary, Heather Means saved every email and handwritten letter that Ryan wrote to her from the day they met. Since the Special Forces soldier was often deployed, their relationship was captured in writing, leaving behind not just a memoir about the present day war, but a powerful family love story to be shared with the couple’s children (Elizabeth and Sophie) as well as the world.
This truly is a raw and inspirational story of modern day love and war filled with patriotism, courage and the strength of human will.
“Elizabeth & Sophie Means will thankfully never know the heart break we felt on the day that their father died. But sadly, they will never remember what it felt like to be held in his strong embrace. As their mother, I can only hope that this documentation of his life, as I knew it, will give them some sort of answers and peace in the coming years.”
“Ryan left us a handbook by which to live. We are forever grateful to have his words now that we can no longer have his embrace. He was a true American hero and I am honored to tell his story.”
- Heather Means
As we celebrate the founding of our country on Wednesday, we must also remember the great men and women who fought and continue to fight to ensure we keep on rockin’ in the free world.
My heartfelt thanks go out to Heather and the Means family for sharing Ryan’s story with us.
If you would like to read the profound novel written for Ryan’s daughters, RPM Rockin’ in the Free World, you may purchase it here. Profits from the book will go to help the Special Operations Warrior Foundation that provides scholarships for children of fallen special ops soldiers.