Carrying the flame.

To Halifax musician David Martin, that’s what local first responders and other essential workers are doing during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Martin wrote a song and made a music video highlighting the sacrifices of those workers: “Carry the Flame — Tribute Song for Everyday Heroes of the COVID-19 pandemic.”

He shared that the message of the song is twofold: to create an awareness of the daily sacrifices of the workers and to uplift those workers in a challenging time.

“The hope is that they will see the video, and it will really lift their spirits and let them know that we care about them,” Martin said.

Highlighted in the video are firefighters, emergency medical responders, law enforcement officers, healthcare workers, sanitation workers, a worker cleaning a laundromat, a restaurant owner and a farmer doing their daily jobs, while Martin sings in the background, “Everything is changing and nothing is the same. Sacrifice and love will still remain. When what you had is gone, you just keep holding on and on. I’ll be there to carry the flame.”

Some spotlighted in the video are local, others are not.

Martin got the footage for the music video in his Halifax neighborhood on the weekend before Gov. Ralph Northam issued the stay-at-home order.

He said his original idea for the music video was to pay tribute to first responders and medics, but it expanded because of his encounters with other workers in the process of shooting the music video.

Martin made another discovery in the process of filming the video: The workers all had positive attitudes and smiles on their faces.

“They’re not just doing this because they have to, but they’re happy to be doing it,” Martin said. “I discovered those positive pieces when I was looking back at the clips. The people brought the message of hope, and I just documented it.”

The workers’ holding out their hands as a symbol of their service to the community and a healthcare worker holding up a heart help drive home the video’s message of hope.

The video also captures raw moments in the daily lives of first responders such as a law enforcement officer running to respond to a call while working the night shift, a firefighter taking off his hat for a moment of reflection after what appears to be a long day on the job, and a rescue worker making a quick call to his family.

Those are feelings that Martin, who is a former police officer, knows all too well.

“I worked plenty of third shifts. Everybody else is asleep, and you can’t sleep,” Martin said. “There’s a feeling of separation. It kind of weighs on your spirit. It can be a little bit lonely, and it’s not just lonely for you, it’s lonely for your family, too.”

The lyrics of the song reiterate the first responders’ sense of loneliness: “The distance that divides us seems so far. I try to make some time at least to call you on the phone. I know it’s tough to spend these nights alone.”

The music video was a first for Martin, but the filming and editing process went more smoothly than he anticipated.

“It’s a once-in-a-lifetime thing the way it came together,” Martin said. “I think the actors’ believing in it helped me come back and do my part in the editing.”

Martin has been a musician for decades and plays several musical instruments in the music video – a piano, an organ, an electric guitar and a tambourine. The musician is a member of the blues band “Burn the Bateau.”

He said the stay-at-home order gave him the extra time to work on an original song in his home studio, and he has wanted to produce a music video for a long time.

The Halifax musician said he is proud of his town, and he is glad he was able to highlight members of the community in his first music video.

“It turned out to be a representative video (of workers during the COVID-19 pandemic) just right here in my hometown,” Martin said.

“Carry the Flame – Tribute Song for Everyday Heroes of the COVID-19 pandemic” is on YouTube and is in the process of being distributed to iTunes, Apple music and Spotify.

Miranda Baines is a staff writer for The Gazette-Virginian. Contact her at mbaines@gazettevirginian.com.

Miranda Baines is a staff writer for The Gazette-Virginian. Contact her at mbaines@gazettevirginian.com.