Country Singer Rockie Lynne Salutes 'America Supports You'
By Linda D. Kozaryn
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, July 4, 2006 The Defense Department's "America Supports You" program is a good thing for the nation's men and women in uniform, breakout country music star Rockie Lynne said today on ABC's "Good Morning America."
Country music singer, songwriter and lead guitarist Rockie Lynne speaks with wounded servicemembers during a visit to the Pentagon May 12, 2006. Photo by Susan Levy, courtesy of Universal Records
(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
"For the first time in our nation's history -- during a conflict -- we are saying, 'Whether you are for the war or whether you're adamantly opposed to the war, we support the troops,'" said the singer, songwriter and lead guitarist who says he acquired his work ethic in the military.
"I was in the regular Army in peacetime, but it changed my life," Lynne recalled of his time with the 50th Signal Battalion at Fort Bragg, N.C. "I gave them three years of my life, and they gave me back a lifetime of a work ethic, and a dedication, and some friends."
Good Morning America's Independence Day show highlighted servicemembers becoming U.S. citizens and previewed an upcoming Nightline show about the 200,000 sons and daughters of deployed troops. Lynne and his band performed for the show's Summer Concert series, playing his recently released singles "Lipstick," and "Do We Still" from his new self-named album on the Universal Recordings label.
In honor of the nation's 230th birthday, Lynne also sang "Red, White and Blue," the ballad he wrote as the theme song for the "America Supports You" program in 2004. Since then, he's performed the patriotic tribute to the troops at the Pentagon, the Grand Ole Opry and at numerous concerts and shows across the country.
In the song, Lynne calls members of the armed forces "modern-day Minutemen and -women, like heroes from the past" who reflect the values America holds dear. He points out that America's military is a cross-section of America, representing every corner of the country, every race, every religion and every socioeconomic status.
Despite their diverse backgrounds, Lynne sings, all are "red, white and blue," ready to respond to whatever mission their country calls upon them to carry out.
"The military is a melting pot," he said. "Regardless of their background, they're all part of the same team, and that's why all of America needs to support the troops."
Lynne said he enlisted in the Army fresh out of high school - as a 6 foot, 3 inch, skinny, out-of-shape kid with low self-esteem. He told American Forces Press Service that his military experience helped fund his musical training.
After playing at venues across the country for more than 15 years, Lynne got his break at age 39 when he signed with Universal Records.
Throughout his career, Lynne said, he's never forgotten his military roots or lost his appreciation for the sacrifices servicemembers make every day.
"I have an amazing respect for those kids. They're all volunteers," he said. "Every single one of them felt a calling to serve our country. And it's important that we stand behind them and make sure they know we support them in that calling."
During two recent visits to the Pentagon, the country singer met with some of the troops wounded in the Iraq and Afghanistan.
"I know how undeniable their will is and their sense of patriotism and their camaraderie with their unit," Lynne said. "You hear them say time and time again, 'I wish I could go back with my guys.' But I never cease to be absolutely floored by their uplifting attitude -- by the spirit of what I can only describe as 'Americanism,' that just comes rising up out of those young men and women."
Lynne said he'll never forget the positive outlook of one young man he met at the Pentagon. Sitting in a wheelchair wearing a prosthetic limb from the knee down, the young veteran had a huge smile. He told the country singer, "It's not as bad as it looks," and said his new goal is to join the Army's Golden Knights parachute team.
"No matter what you're going through in your life, you realize that nothing that we have to struggle with is hard," Lynne said. "What they deal with is hard on a daily, minute-by-minute basis."
People may shy away from talking to these young people, Lynne said, but "sticking our head in the sand" is not the right thing to do. "We have to grasp the reality that these young men and women are paying, some with their lives, some with their limbs, and some with their sense of cognizance for the rest of their lives."
One servicemember, who turned his head to show Lynne the large circular scar on his shaved head, told him, "At least I can walk and talk."
"We can never, ever forget the debt we owe these men and women," Lynne concluded. "They deserve our care."
As he has for the past two years, Lynne will again show his support for the troops during an annual motorcycle ride and benefit concert in Minnesota honoring fallen servicemembers and their families. Sept. 8 to 10, veterans, military family members and self-described patriots will crisscross the state to personally thank the troops' families for their sacrifice. For information on the ride, go to www.tributetothetroops.org.