Saying goodbye is never easy. For military families and loved ones, saying goodbye is an even bigger challenge. Many of us cannot even begin to fathom the idea of not knowing when we will see a loved one or friend again, or even be able to say hello. While the way we communicate with those deployed has changed, the emptiness of them being away hasn’t. For one Homes for Heroes affiliate, this very feeling hit home and inspired him to turn simple war letters into a reminder for all military families, friends and loved ones that they are not alone.
On top of being a husband, father, family-man and Homes for Heroes Affiliate, Ian Koteles is also a talented musician, which is no coincidence once you get to know him.
“Music has been a part of my life since I can remember. Sneaking in and out of nightclubs at a young age to catch a glimpse of my dad performing has always been a fond memory for my brothers and I (I am the oldest of 3). We would perform variety shows in our living room for our parents all the time. Complete with costumes, English accents, and air guitars.
“It wasn’t until my youngest brother performed a guitar solo (with a real guitar) at his eighth grade talent show that sparked the beginning of our songwriting career. I was in college at the time and remember going back to school with a guitar in hand. I taught myself the basics and eventually moved back home in order to work closer on our craft.
“A lot has happened between then and now and it was quite the grind, but today I am blessed to have a great balance of work and play. I find my real estate business and music performance exist in perfect harmony. I play weddings, private parties, special events, farmers markets, and fundraisers as often as I am able.”
After witnessing friends saying goodbye to loved ones who were being deployed to war in Afghanistan, Koteles and his brother knew they had to do something to help ease the pain of saying goodbye. This where “My Letter” came into tune.
“The song ‘My Letter’ came about from the actual war letters our grandfather sent our grandmother- who still has them today- during his time at war during World War II. We also had high school friends around that time being deployed to Afghanistan. This hit even closer to home when we saw our own peers facing these challenging times.
“The overall message is that despite being far from home, a lonely heart can be comforted by the words of a letter, ‘My Letter’.”
Koteles shared a little background about his grandparents with us and how his grandfather’s life has inspired him to set his own personal goals:
“My grandfather married my grandmother in 1944, just prior to leaving for WWII. He was a G2 intelligence officer (a communicator) and a real ‘people’ person. He was a husband, a father, a grandfather, a great-grandfather and a great storyteller! He passed at the incredible age of 93 having lived a beautiful and fulfilling life.
“My grandparents celebrated 67 years of marriage and always exemplified the meaning of true love. June 2018 will mark what would have been my grandfathers 100th birthday. I have set a personal goal to help 100 families by this date to honor him and to thank all of our heroes near and far for their ongoing dedication to our communities.
“While my grandfather was away at war there was an abundance of letters written back to his new bride. Today, I can only sit and try to fathom what that distance and those circumstances must have felt like. The aching desire to be home again could not have been stronger. We should never take a single day for granted and always make the most of it. There are so many heroes in our lives making it a better place to live every day and every day they should be thanked.”
As we mentioned before, Koteles plays many roles in life, but being a “realtor with a purpose” is something he finds to be extremely rewarding:
“The biggest reward with my being affiliated with Homes For Heroes is the opportunity to be a Realtor with a purpose. I may not be able to thank every hero out there, but I will strive to do my part and show my support as best I can every single day.
“If we each give a little bit we can all make a big difference.”