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Country Singer Helps Celebrate Army Birthday

By Linda D. Kozaryn
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, June 16, 2004 – Country music star John Michael Montgomery helped celebrate the Army's 229th birthday by singing four of his hits at the Pentagon today.

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Singer John Michael Montgomery, left, signs an autograph for a sailor at the Pentagon, June 16. Photo by Linda D. Kozaryn
  

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Wearing camouflage fatigues, the Grammy-award winning singer blended in with the crowd when he arrived at the Pentagon courtyard concert site -- except for his tall, black cowboy hat, that is. Montgomery took time to shake hands, sign autographs and pose for pictures before going on stage.

Army Brig. Gen. James Kelley, chief of staff, U.S. Army Reserve Command, introduced the singer, noting that Montgomery has had 15 No. 1 country songs during a decade of hits and has sold more than 15 million records.

"His realistic lyrics capture the hardships and the determination and 'muddy boots' of our armed forces and their proud families," the general said. Montgomery's current hit, "Letters from Home," he added, is a tribute the nation's service members.

Montgomery described having a song about the military during a time of war has been a humbling and wonderful experience. He said he's met some "great American heroes in the military across the seas and families back here."

"This song," he said, "just really hit home for me, and as a matter of fact, that's what it's all about."

"Letters from Home" tells the story of a deployed soldier who shares parts of his family's letters from home with his comrades in arms. The final chorus sums up the troops' feelings in the letter the soldier's dad sends, saying, "Son, you make me proud."

"I hold it up and show my buddies, like we ain't scared and our boots ain't muddy," the lyrics go, "and no one laughs cuz there ain't nothin' funny when a soldier cries, and I just wipe my eyes. I fold it up, put it in my shirt, pick up my gun and get back to work. And it keeps me drivin' on. Waitin' on letters from home."

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Biographies:
Brig. Gen. James Kelley

Related Sites:
U.S. Army Reserve


Click photo for screen-resolution imageAppearing under an Operation Tribute to Freedom Banner, country music star John Michael Montgomery, center, and two members of his band sing one of his hit songs at the Pentagon, June 16. Photo by Linda D. Kozaryn  
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Click photo for screen-resolution imageCountry music star John Michael Montgomery, center, and his band play for service members and civilian employees at the Pentagon on June 16. Montgomery said that having a hit song -- "Letters from Home" -- about the military during a time of war has been a humbling and wonderful experience. Photo by Linda D. Kozaryn  
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Click photo for screen-resolution imageAfter entertaining at the Pentagon on June 16, country music star John Michael Montgomery, left, talks with a group of visiting wounded service members recovering at nearby Walter Reed Army Medical Center. Photo by Linda D. Kozaryn  
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