Two nights before the war in the Persian Gulf broke out, Bill Racz -- a 53-year-old caterer and Navy reservist, whose poems are usually only seen by his wife Sheila -- was struck by a middle-of-the night inspiration.
He scrawled some lines on a pad of paper he keeps by his bed. When Mrs. Racz read them the next morning, she urged her husband to do more than stick them in the box where his poems usually end up.
So he sent them to a friend, WCAO deejay Johnny Dark, and today at 11 a.m. "(An American Behind a) Line Carved in the Sand" will make its debut on WCAO Radio 60.
Mr. Dark, who says he "know[s] Bill through his catering service and hardly expected him to be the type of person who wrote poems," was "touched and moved" by the poem.
He read it over the air last week and the station was inundated with hundreds of calls and letters from listeners wanting to hear it again.
Among the callers was Bob D'Antoni, a painting contractor and, for the past 15 years, a composer and singer of contemporary Christian music. He wanted to put Mr. Racz's poem to music.
Events were moving right along -- but not quickly enough for Bill Racz to stay involved. Last Friday he drove to Washington to get his lyrics copyrighted. Saturday he shipped out to Saudi Arabia with his unit of the U.S Navy Civil Engineer Corps.
Meanwhile, Mr. D'Antoni collaborated with Brett Wilson, president of Crossroads Records in Baltimore, to write a melody.
They got musicians together -- including representatives from the the Sykesville Middle School chorus -- and spent several days in the studio to come up with the final version of the song. (Preliminary versions were played earlier this week on WCAO.)
"This is real goose bumps material," says Mr. Dark, who has sent a tape of the song to friends in the recording industry and the management of Summit Broadcasting, which owns WCAO and more than half a dozen other radio stations in large cities across the country.
"I have hopes that some major label will pick it up."
(An American Behind A) Line Carved In The Sand
I was not the youngest sent to fight on foreign land
And I'm not the oldest to protect this desert sand.
The U.S. said she needed help to keep our country free
She called up all our military and then she called up me.
So I left my wife and family with a weapon in my hand
To fight in a foreign country to protect a line in the sand.
Yes, I'm proud to be an American and I'm proud of our great land
That's why I'm in the desert fighting for a line drawn in the sand.
Support us, please, America, with your heart and souls in hand
GIt's freedom . . . not oil we are fighting for and a line carved in the sand.
I do not know what fate awaits
My life is in "God's" hands
For rights of freedom and pride I fight,
For a Line Carved In The Sand.