America Supports You: Country Singer Has Veterans Perspective
By Samantha L. Quigley
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Mar. 14, 2005 Country singer Craig Morgan said that his performances overseas to support the troops serve a couple of purposes: to catch up with old friends and make sure the troops know people care.
Morgan said he appreciates the chance to catch up with friends he met during his years as an Army Ranger, including serving in Panama in 1989 for Operation Just Cause.
"I get the opportunity to go over there and visit with them and get caught up and kind of get a feel for what's going on with them and know that everything's kind of OK," Morgan said today in an interview with the Pentagon Channel and American Forces Press Service.
His other purpose for the trips serves a loftier goal: Making sure the troops know they are supported.
"I want to go over and let the soldiers know how much that America supports what they're doing," he said, "not just them individually, but the mission that they have undertaken."
Morgan said he knows that kind of support is important because he remembers how he felt as a young soldier serving overseas when celebrities came to entertain.
"When I go overseas now it's really weird, 'cause I can remember the impact that artists and celebrities and entertainers had on me as a soldier when they came over to serve us," he said. "It was such a cool thing.
"To have a soldier come up to me in a place like that and say, 'You know what? For a few minutes there, I forgot where I was at.' It's just the most wonderful thing in the world," Morgan said. "Of all the things that I do, that's right up there with being on the Grand Ole Opry."
Having experienced combat helps Morgan communicate with troops better than someone who hasn't served or been in a combat environment. He said it gives him an avenue to start a conversation, gives them some comfort and lets them know that there is "light at the end of the tunnel."
Morgan's joining the "America Supports You" team is another way for him to emphasize that he and America support the troops.
"There are so many people that I run into in my life, in particular when I'm doing concerts, because of my past, my service to my country, they ask me, 'You were just over there talking to soldiers. What can I do?'" he said.
"It's nice now to be able to say, 'Look. It's really simple. Go to AmericaSupportsYou.mil. It's so simple that my 8-year-old child can do it.'"
Morgan said the America Supports You program is an easy way for those who want to help to choose their preferred method of support, whether it's a letter or a monetary donation or some other form of support. There are many options for Americans who want to support the troops.
"It's a way for America to show the soldiers how much they support them and what they do," Morgan said. "That's something I want to be a part of. I'm just real excited to be a part of that, and I can't imagine another organization that's doing what they're doing to the magnitude that they are."
His efforts to support the troops go beyond performing for them overseas; he supports deployed troops through stateside events as well.
Last fall, he participated in the 7th Annual Warrior Relay. Money raised from the relay goes to the Special Operations Warrior Foundation. That non-profit foundation has provided college tuition for the children of fallen special operations personnel since 1980.
"I worked with the Special Forces element. A lot of my friends are still in ... serving with the Special Forces elements," Morgan said. "I can't imagine a soldier who is in a situation over there dealing with what he's dealing with and having to worry about if something happened to him if his family would be taken care of.
"A soldier serving his country and willing to make the ultimate sacrifice for his country should never have to worry about the safety and well-being and welfare of his children or her children," he said.
The next time Morgan sings for the troops, it's a sure bet that they'll hear, "That's What I Love About Sunday," his single that hit No. 1 on country charts March 14.
Another high point this week was today's visit to the Pentagon. "After hearing the #1 news, getting to meet Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz, Vice Chief of Staff Army General Richard Cody, and Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense, Public Affairs, Internal Communications and Public Liaison Allison Barber was icing on the cake," Morgan said in a press release issued by his record label.