An Open Letter to Chester Bennington of Linkin Park

An Open Letter to Chester Bennington of Linkin Park

We will always miss you.
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Dear Chester,

I'm very sorry that you felt that this was how things had to go. I'm sorry that the pain you felt inside was too great for you to live with anymore, and I'm sorry that you felt like nobody was here who could help you even a little bit. I'm sorry that you left your family, your wife and your band behind suddenly, randomly, too hurt for them to be able to make you happy. In fact, a great many people are sorry; you were loved, admired and appreciated by people all over the world, people who you never actually met but people whose lives you touched remotely through your music.

However, I am going to be a bit different than them and NOT pretend that I understood what was going on. You often spoke out about being hurt as a child and then fighting a drug addiction, two issues that God has blessedly kept far from me, and I have heard that Chris Cornell, who died earlier this year, was your best friend. I do not know what it is like to have your emotions and your memories all bottled inside; so I can only send my sympathies and thoughts for you.

Since I cannot understand, I cannot call you selfish. I cannot judge you for what you did. I cannot tell you that you are weak and a bad person for leaving everyone behind. Because what I do understand is that these words, these emotions, are heard and received by other people too, who may or may not feel the same way that you did, and these feelings would make those people recede, feeling even more unheard and misunderstood. Insulting someone's feelings, someone who already felt alienated and alone, will only make other alienated, alone people feel worse -- and I know that that is not what I want.

Do I believe your choice was the correct one? Of course not. I believe that there is always a better choice, always ANOTHER choice, an alternative that involves waiting for life to improve and for something more positive to come your way. But insulting you, throwing my judgment at you and your family as if it actually means something, is a thing I will avoid.

Instead, to deal with my grief, I want to thank you for the music that you have made. I have grown up with you; Xero was released two years before I was born, and I first listened to you in fourth grade -- 2009 -- as I really began to struggle with my self-image issues. You released "A Thousand Suns" five days before my 11th birthday, and I assumed it was your gift to me as I fell in love with it. To this day, it is my favorite album, and I have gotten into different parts of it at different times (I just recently discovered the beauty in "Iridescent") when I was ready to accept the beauty and the art inside each song.

And I have loved your music through every stage, even your more recent albums, because I appreciate your passion and your heart. As the tribute to you on the Linkin Park website says, it is because you were able to express your feelings, dark as they were, that you called such a large fanbase. You were able to make so many people feel as if they were not alone. That is truly a gift -- I have no doubt that you have saved a lot of lost people from committing suicide as well.

So thank you, Chester. Thank you for bearing your soul to the world to help us through your music, and thank you for everything that you and your band have accomplished. Nothing will be the same without you, but you have lived the ultimate life -- you have touched many lives and left behind a legacy that cannot ever be forgiven. But we still all miss you so much and wish with all of our hearts that you did not have to go.

If anybody ever is feeling as if life is not worth living, here are some available resources:

Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-TALK

Crisis Text Line (free, nationwide, 24/7 text message service) - United States: text HELLO to 741741 or message on Facebook.

For support outside the US, find resources here.




With love,

A fan forever

Cover Image Credit: Linkin Park

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An Open Letter To Those Who Forget Those Who Fought For Us All

We would not have the freedom to create what we love without them.

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Without the bravery of millions of men and women throughout US history, many of us would not be sitting at our laptops reading or even creating free expressions of ourselves.

We might not be able to walk across campus without fear for our lives. Without the sacrifice of those who served, the great country we call home would not even be a reality. Whether we know them personally or not, the American people owe every ounce of freedom that we enjoy to the veterans who fought to preserve it.

For the soldiers who made it home again, the physical war was over, but the mental war was just beginning. And what makes it worse is that they cannot identify the enemy. There is no battle plan, no intended mission, and no officer leading them through the fray; they are alone, and cannot find the enemy to face in the shadows.

Veterans come home with so many different battle scars; some as obvious as a missing limb, and others so invisible that no one realizes that they are there until it is too late. Mental illness and PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) plague returning soldiers and make it almost impossible for them to assimilate back into their own families, let alone society.

There is a toxic mentality that is all too popular in the military that tries to say that PTSD is for the weak and feeble-minded. Sometimes serving for years in foreign lands, some soldiers claim that any form of weakness gets you killed or captured on the battlefield. Coming home with this same mentality creates a toxic environment in which veterans refuse to seek help and the nightmares that they endured overseas haunt them until they cannot take it anymore.

There were soldiers that did not make it home at all, and some that were carried off planes in a box draped in the flag of their beloved country. Many of those who died did so to give their friends the chance to see the home and the families that they themselves would never lay eyes on again. They did not die just for their friends to come home to sleep on benches, having been kicked out of their houses or unable to hold a job. They did not die for their friends to come home only to put a needle to their arm, a bottle to their lips, or a pistol to their head.

Every day, 22 veterans and active-duty soldiers commit suicide. That means approximately every 65 minutes, a veteran has taken his or her life somewhere in the United States, the country that forgot them after they gave up so much for it. This statistic is inexcusable for our nation, and in other areas, the bar is just as low.

The vets with physical wounds alongside their mental ones who seek help must yet again face another battle; this time being with the healthcare system and all of its heavy expenses.

They usually get bags of over-prescribed drugs thrown at them as well as opioids rather than the physical and mental therapy that they need and deserve. The drugs turn the veterans into addicts, and as the pain continues to intensify on both the physical and mental fronts, they take more and more to numb the pain. This way, many reach overdose, and even death.

Mental illness, PTSD, lack of adequate treatment, and physical impairment all make it practically impossible for a soldier to get and keep a job, which could start a downward spiral into homelessness.

Despite the efforts that government organizations such as the Veterans Affairs have set in motion, the programs implemented have had minimal effect upon the crisis at hand. With a broken system and so many odds stacked against them, so many veterans have lost faith in the country that they fought so hard for, the same country that left them to their own nightmares in the alleyways and dark corners of cities. This is a humanitarian crisis that defines who we are as a nation.

I understand that many people may call a different crisis to mind that they think should take priority over getting these heroes off the streets. However, without all the sacrifices that the millions who served have made to protect America and everything it stands for, most other issues in this country would not even be plausible, let alone resolvable. This country is a beacon of hope to the world, and so many risks their own lives as well as their children's to come here. But without those who protected our liberty, there would be no liberty to flock to.

I want to imagine a United States that successfully integrates veterans back into society, that has the programs and the willpower to get them back on their feet and out of the shadows of the horrors they faced overseas.

But more than that, I want to imagine an American people that turn around to help pay the debt that those who fought for our freedom never asked us to repay. Because after all, freedom isn't free.

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