- Posted November 6, 2011 by
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J.R. Martinez American Hero and a Reflection of Us
He was born in Shreveport, the heart of the Louisiana Purchase. He's claimed Dalton, GA as his native home. In his short life he has served his country; sustained injuries defending it; and has become the face of the new generation of Americans coming into their own. Jose Rene Martinez is the quintessential American story. At 19 he went from high school to the army. Within a month of his deployment to Iraq, J.R. Martinez faced the ultimate challenge of his life. The Humvee he was driving struck a land mine. Trapped inside the flaming vehicle, he sustained burns to over 40% of his body. J.R. was 6 weeks short of his 20th birthday. He spent 34 months in hospital healing. During that time he endured 33 surgeries and became a beacon of light for many of his fellow soldiers who were also recovering from injuries. That's J.R. Martinez. His faith, optimism and shear will drove him to withdraw from withdrawal. Though bearing scars, J.R. would not be delegated into the shadows. That would be contrary to his upbringing, his patriotism and ultimately his soul.
Five years after the moment which would define the remainder of his life, ABC television introduced a new character to the daytime soap All My Children. Brot Monroe, Iraq War Veteran, bearing the scars of war became a character who won the heart of viewers. We live in a culture where surface beauty seems to count for more than the content of the soul. J.R. Martinez took Brot Monroe and made him someone viewers wanted to know, perhaps explore. That could not have been accomplished by many. J.R. allowed his personality to shine through as he delivered Brot, not as a damaged man, but as someone who in the face of adversity can make beautiful things happen. In so many respects, J.R. Martinez represents each one of us and we are blind to see it.
A few months ago ABC Daytime canceled All My Children, a show which has served to make a major impact on the American conversation. And as AMC slipped into the network sunset, J.R. Martinez stood out. ABC saw the potential. They decided to cast him on the latest season of Dancing With The Stars. While the show touts him as “actor and veteran”; soap fans recognize his ascent has been accomplished by the three years he spent on a “silly little soap opera”. He embraced his role on DWTS with the same vigor and passion as he did with Brot Monroe. And in a few short weeks, J.R. Martinez captured the hearts of the American public. For a culture so immersed in the superficial, J.R. has shown us beauty isn’t skin deep. It resides within the shell and the light which emanates from within is the ultimate in real beauty. The ultimate truth is that without that silly little soap opera known as All My Children we may never had the great gift of experiencing him.
As J.R. makes his journey to the coveted Mirror Ball, the cast, crew and audience have embraced him with such an outpouring of love and reverence, it's difficult to believe it happened in our superficial world. That's what All My Children did. As it had for the four decades previous, the show put us in touch with the realities of life as told through the words of writers. But this isn't about soaps, this piece is about J.R. Martinez and what he represents. Every scar he bears is a metaphor for a scar a viewer may bear whether it's on the surface or within. For those who are in despair, he represents a light in a place of darkness which proves that no matter how gargantuan the adversity, there always remains a shred of hope. As J.R. Evolves on DWTS he makes advancements weekly. And with every step forward that bright shining smile lights up the ballroom. His eyes serve as a window to his beautiful soul. And as we look into those eyes and radiate in his brilliant smile we see a little bit of ourselves in him.
J.R. Martinez made his impact. He served our nation. He paid a heavy price for his selflessness. He rescued the souls of many of his fellow soldiers when they faced difficult rehabilitation. He brought the face of war to the daytime viewing public and did it with the grace and dignity few could match. Now J.R. Martinez reaches out the the nation in a new forum. He's on the cover of People magazine. He will be the Grand Marshall of the Tournament of Roses Parade. In the end, J.R. Martinez represents each of us. And beneath those superfluous flaws beats a heart filled with music, laughter and joy. J.R. Martinez is every one of us and we are a part of him. Thank you ABC for having the wisdom to share J.R. Martinez with us. And thank you, J.R. Martinez – for your service to our nation; for your beauty and for reminding us what's important in the grand scheme of things.