Marine Sings His Patriotism
(June 29, 2009)
Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Stephen D. Davis plays a song he wrote, June 17, 2009, at Camp Al Taqaddum, Iraq. Davis has been writing songs inspired by war veterans since he was 11.
CAMP AL TAQADDUM, Iraq, June 24, 2009 –
Sitting in the desert, a thousand miles from home, an
infantryman with 1st Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment, thinks
about his lifetime and all the songs he wrote.
Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Stephen D. Davis, deployed to Iraq's
Anbar province and winner of a recent talent show here,
started playing the guitar when his parents bought him his
first one when he was 10 years old. After learning a few
chords from his dad, he spent a lot of time listening and
watching others play, learning as he went.
He wrote his first song -- about his grandfather -- when he
was 11 years old.
“My grandpa and my great grandpa were both in the Army, and
my great grandpa was in World War II,” Davis said. “He never
really talked about this stuff all that much, but my
in the Army
during the Cold War, and he used to always tell
me he never did anything, but he would always
talk about the sacrifice people put out for
Davis, the eldest of seven children in his
family, said most of his songs are patriotic and have been
inspired by war veterans he's met and the stories they tell
“For some reason, I can talk to old people better than I can
young people,” he said. “It's almost like they're drawn to
me for some reason. I like talking to them; I like hearing
their stories and how stuff used to be compared to now.
“Most veterans come up and talk to me after they hear my
songs,” he continued. “They say they think it's a little
weird, because all the songs I wrote, I wrote before I ever
joined. And they think it's pretty cool that somebody who's
never done anything wrote a song like that, and they all
told me that I pretty much hit the way they feel about
things right on the head -- like I'd actually been there or
Recalling the first patriotic song he wrote, Davis told the
story of a youth conference he attended, held by Tim Lee, a
former sergeant in the Marine Corps, who lost both of his
legs in combat.
“They were out on patrol,” he said. “One of his buddies was
up in front of the patrol, and for some reason, [Lee] said
he felt that he needed to be at the front of the patrol. So
he told his buddy to get back, and he took point. Probably
10 minutes after that, he walked into a minefield, and he
stepped on a mine and lost both his legs.”
Davis said he met a homeless Vietnam veteran that same day
who told him about the war and all the things that went on
there that caused mental problems for him. When the man came
home from war, the veteran told Davis, his family and
friends disowned him.
“I just had that in the back of my head, and when I got back
from the youth conference I was playing my guitar and just
wrote down how [the veterans] made me feel, telling me their
stories -- how I could see how they felt about all that.
“They're just people doing their jobs; some of them
volunteered, some of them didn't,” he continued. “They were
just doing what they had to do, doing what they were told to
do. And they get home and people hated them for it, and they
really had no control over it at all.”
Davis said his family always has been patriotic and had
taught him that what America has is not free -- people had
to pay for it.
“It's because of veterans who fought for our freedoms [that]
we have all those rights,” he said.
Davis said he joined the Marine Corps to give back to his
country and to continue the legacy of all the men and women
who fought before him.
“To me, people don't realize why we get to live as we do as
Americans, so that's why I did it,” he said.
At Marine Corps boot camp, Davis met Lance Cpl. Jeffery A.
Cook. The two Marines formed a strong friendship throughout
“It wasn't until [infantry school] that he and I became such
good friends,” said Cook, a machine gunner. “We were in the
same platoon, ... and he just happened to have the rack right
next to mine. We became closer, and after a few weeks we
realized we had a lot more in common than we thought.
Stephen is probably one of the most loyal friends I have. We
were like brothers, and we were daily made fun of for always
being by each other's side.”
Both of them raised in the country, and enjoying country
music comes with the territory, they said. Cook said he and
Davis used to sing together, but that he didn't know how
great a guitar player Davis was until they got to their
first duty station.
“At boot camp and [infantry school], we would pass the time
as best we could by singing every country song we knew,”
Cook said. “When we ran out of songs, we just made up new
ones. I knew early on that he was an extremely talented
singer, so when we got to the fleet and I heard him play the
guitar, it wasn't much of a surprise. ... When he sings or
plays, it makes you feel like you have something to live
for. He's definitely an inspirational writer.”
With different military occupational specialties and being
in different platoons, the friends aren't together as much
as they used to be, but they stay in touch as best they can.
“We still do our best to watch each other's backs, and I
know if I ever need anything he is the first person I go
to,” Cook said. “I'm sure he feels the same way about me.”
photo by Marine Corps Cpl. M.M. Bravo
20th Support Command
American Forces Press Service
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