Country Music Artist Clint Black Offers Free Veterans Day Concert
By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Nov. 2, 2004 Country music sensation Clint Black will treat servicemembers to a rousing Veterans Day concert next week to thank them for their contributions to U.S. national defense.
Black, with a long string of No. 1 hits and country music awards to his name, will present the Nov. 11 concert at Lackland Air Force Base, Texas. The concert is free and open to all servicemembers and their families, as well as Department of Defense civilian employees, on a first-come, first-served basis.
Basic trainees will march together into the venue, where they will share front- row seats with servicemembers recently returned from deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as families of troops deployed to the region, according to Sandra Hillard, program director for the 37th Services Division at Lackland.
The concert is the culmination of a yearlong lineup sponsored by the Spirit of America Tour, a nonprofit group that brings headline entertainment to military bases throughout the United States.
Since its establishment in 2002, The Spirit of America Tour has arranged 44 concerts featuring A-list artists ranging from Charlie Daniels to Patty Loveless to The Oak Ridge Boys. The artists volunteer their time and The Robert and Nina Rosenthal Foundation picks up expenses.
Robert Rosenthal, a retired attorney, said the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, inspired him and his wife to launch the program for America's men and women in uniform.
During 2002, The Spirit of America Tour arranged five shows. By 2003, that number had jumped to 18. The upcoming Veterans Day concert at Lackland represents the 21st concert in 2004.
Rosenthal said he's "thunderstruck" by the success of the program. "I'm absolutely amazed at how patriotic the music industry is," he said. "And the military people, if you look at their faces in the audiences, just love it."
The performers who volunteer their time to entertain the troops say they're thankful for the opportunity to show their support for the armed forces.
"I'm former military, so this is something I love to be a part of and totally believe in," country music star Chad Brock told a Marine Corps journalist during a late October "Honky Tonk Tailgate Party" at Marine Corps Air Station Yuma, Ariz. The concert also featured David Kersh, Darryl Singletary and Rhett Atkins.
"I'm so thankful for ya'all," Brock said. "You can ask any of the guys around me, and they'll tell you I'm pretty vocal about the way I feel about this country."
During a concert last fall at Naval Training Center Great Lakes, Ill., commemorating the second anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, the legendary Charlie Daniels told the audience "how wonderful it is to look out at you people who have given some of the best years of your life to defend this nation."
Daniels told the audience he's "very pro-military" and that he and other Americans "owe a great deal of respect and admiration to the people who give of themselves to defend this nation."
The concerts, Daniels told a Navy journalist at the base, give him a way to make a contribution. "I was too young for the first couple of wars in my life. I was too old for the next couple," he said. "This is my way of serving."
In a letter of appreciation to Rosenthal, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld called The Spirit of America Tour program "a resounding success and a great morale-building effort."
Wherever they perform, the stars involved in the tour draw rave reviews from servicemembers and their commanders alike.
Navy Capt. Sean Sullivan, commander of Naval Submarine Base New London, Conn., praised the mid-August performances of Deborah Allen, Heather and Jennifer Kinley, and Michelle Wright, which he said "delighted over 1,000 of our nation's finest with their show performance."
Sullivan said the performers made a particularly lasting impression as they toured the base and one of its submarines. "By personally thanking our sailors for their commitment to our nation's freedom and by willingly signing every autograph requested, these country stars contributed immeasurably to the morale of our fighting force," he said. "Everyone went home energized and proud of who they are and what they do for this great country."
At Mountain Home Air Force Base, Idaho, Air Force Lt. Col. Glenn Winkler, commander of the 366th Services Squadron, called this summer's Charlie Daniels Band concert "a huge success."
He said The Spirit of America Tour's sponsorship of the event "lets our troops know that Americans do care and support what they are doing."