America Supports You: Father's Day Concert to Rock Offutt Air Force Base
By Samantha L. Quigley
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, June 16, 2006 Dads of the Offutt Air Force Base community in Nebraska are in for a special Father's Day treat, the Spirit of America Tour founder and president said.
Country music favorite Charlie Daniels (left) and Spirit of America founder and president Robert Rosenthal chat on stage at Fort Leonard Wood, Mo., during Daniels' concert in 2003. Courtesy photo
(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
Thanks to Spirit, and a well-timed break in her tour schedule, country music star Jo Dee Messina will have a "meet and greet" with the troops before performing a free concert for the Offutt military community June 18, Robert Rosenthal said.
"She's on her way to Fargo (N.D.) and she's between shows," he said. "What a perfect opportunity."
This isn't the first time Messina has worked with Spirit to perform for the troops. She was the first act Spirit presented at Fort Leonard Wood, Mo., in 2003.
It's also not the first time the Spirit of America Tour has brought concerts to the troops. The organization was founded in 2002 and has helped to entertain servicemembers across the country since. Today, it's a member of the Defense Department's "America Supports You" program, which highlighting grassroots and corporate support for the nation's troops and their families.
"We have done now over 70 shows, and they're with big stars," Rosenthal said, referring to entertainers including Clint Black, Joe Diffie, Neal McCoy and the Charlie Daniels Band.
"A lot of these people are big supporters of the troops," he said. "They don't have a lot of opportunity to do a lot of shows for the troops, but when a schedule opens, my phone rings."
Rosenthal works with entertainers' managers and agents to fill gaps they may have in their tour schedules with opportunities to provide free concerts at nearby military facilities.
A retired attorney, he and his wife, Nina, wanted to do something for America after Sept. 11, 2001. He realized no one was providing concerts for troops on stateside military bases, and made a couple of inquiries.
His proposal found its way into the right hands at the Defense Department, and Rosenthal got the OK to proceed. That hurdle cleared, the Spirit of America Tour, a project of the nonprofit Robert and Nina Rosenthal Foundation, Inc., began providing concerts for troop in the United States.
The organization has already sponsored two concerts this year, and has nine more scheduled. Typically it sponsors about 18 concerts a year, covering reasonable expenses, such as professional lighting and sound, he added. Donations are accepted to help defray the cost of the concerts.
The entertainers however, volunteer their time, and they do that to thank the troops, Rosenthal said.
"I'm bringing to America's stateside military bases name entertainers who will stand there on the stage and say ... 'I am volunteering my time ... to show you how much I appreciate what you're doing to give me the right to live in the greatest country in the world,'" he said. "I think it's that feeling, that realization ... that there are a thousand other entertainers who are big stars who ... are willing to come to a base and say, 'Thank you.'"
Rosenthal said he gets e-mails by the hundreds, thanking him for what Spirit is doing. While that gratitude is wonderful, he said it's not necessary. What he does is out of appreciation for the troops.
"I live in the greatest country in the world, and I live in the greatest country in the world because I've got a standing Army, and an Air Force and Navy, Coast Guard and Marine Corps," Rosenthal said. "I know, because I'm old enough to remember World War II, how important it is to have these people in uniform."