Today’s #VeteranOfTheDay is Iraq War Army Veteran Michael A. Byer. Michael wrote the song “Over the Wire” as a part of #OperationSong.
A long-standing tradition in the military, retiring soldiers pitch their boots over a powerline wire. Michael’s song, however, is not simply about his retirement, but a poignant tribute to his son who was enlisting in the Army at the same time. “Over the Wire” evokes a compelling mirror image of one soldier leaving his boots behind on a wire, the other crossing over a wire into battle.
The thing that scared me the most was he’d see and do all I’ve seen and done
Michael served in the Army for over 22 years with the Combat Aviation Brigade, 101st Airborne Division. His tours of duty include Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm, Restore Hope Mogadishu, Operation Iraqi Freedom, and Operation Enduring Freedom.
His son, Garrett, now serves in the same unit. Michael was initially upset that his son was set on following in his footsteps. He said his son was “going to war, the same war he started as a kid.”
One pair of boots will face the fire, the other pair goes over the wire
Michael was forced into medical retirement when he was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. Garrett was graduating from basic training. He asked his father to wear his service uniform one last time to his cord ceremony. Michael recalled his son’s words to him just as he was placing the cord on his son: “Don’t worry, it’s my turn now.” Those words and moments would be transformed into lyrics for “Over the Wire.”
Yeah my old pair is going over the wire
For his service, Michael was awarded with two Bronze Star Medals. His participation in Operation Song inspired him to establish his own program to help other Veterans. Sounds of Acoustic Recovery, or SOAR, aims to help Veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder through music, specifically by teaching them how to play the guitar.
Thank you for your service, Michael!
Nominate a Veteran for #VeteranOfTheDay
Do you want to light up the face of a special Veteran? Have you been wondering how to tell your Veteran they are special to you? You’re in luck! VA’s #VeteranOfTheDay social media feature is an opportunity to highlight your Veteran and his/her service.
It’s easy to nominate a Veteran. All it takes is an email to firstname.lastname@example.org with as much information as you can put together, along with some good photos. Visit our blog post about nominating to learn how to create the best submission.
Operation Song™ has spent the last five years bringing songwriting to the military and Veteran community to help with healing, service-related issues and injuries. A 501(c)(3) non-profit based in Nashville, Operation Song™ holds weekly workshops in Middle Tennessee and sponsors events and group retreats throughout the Southeast. Those they serve need no musical background, only the desire to tell their story. In a typical session, the songwriter listens and encourages the participant to lay out the “puzzle pieces” of his or her experience. Together, they arrange those pieces into verses and choruses. The result is a complete song that they can call their own. Operation Song serves Veterans of all conflicts. For more information about Operation Song™, visit their website: http://www.operationsong.org/
Graphic By Kierra Willis: Kierra Willis is a Graphic Communication Major at the University of Maryland University College. She currently has an AAS in Graphic Design and Visual Communications.