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Kix Brooks, fiddle master Charlie Daniels, “Redneck Woman” Gretchen Wilson, and contemporary Christian artist Amy Grant, along with General Tommy Franks (Ret.), gathered at Nashville’s Allen Arena on the campus of Lipscomb University last night (March 23) to pay tribute to American soldiers, and to raise funds and awareness for the university’s Yellow Ribbon program.
Larry Gatlin, lead singer of the Gatlin Brothers, served as emcee for the event. The Yellow Ribbon program allows military veterans to receive a free or reduced tuition for their education at the faith-based university. The program supplies the funds that soldiers need beyond the amount normally provided by the GI Bill, so soldiers can more easily obtain a degree. “The government only pays part of [the money needed for education], and for someone who gave everything for our country, that is not enough,” Larry said.
Gretchen Wilson performed a romantic ballad from her upcoming album, I Got Your Country Right Here, “I’d Love To Be Your Last.” Speaking of her own commitment to education, she said, “In 2007 I went back to school to get my GED, to set an example for my daughter. In May 2008, I earned the GED and have since met so many people who are passionate about education. The Yellow Ribbon program ensures the education of the Americans who have protected us.”
After a false start or two, Amy Grant performed her latest single, “Better Than a Hallelujah.” “This should be a comfort to anyone who wants to be an artist in the music industry. You don’t have to be perfect.” She quipped. Several of the evening’s attendees were members of Challenge America, a program founded in 2009 by Amy and husband Vince Gill to assist wounded American soldiers.
Kix recalled the story of Brooks & Dunn’s first concert in Pennsylvania after the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, where they performed “Only In America” to a crowd of flag-waving fans. Since then, Brooks & Dunn have made it a point to have soldiers featured at each of their concerts in order to honor people who have served America. “This country really just wants to thank all of you guys for serving us,” he said before singing an acoustic version (sans Ronnie Dunn) of “Only In America.”
Charlie gave a spirited acoustic rendition of “In America,” “We can never do enough for our military.” Charlie said, before recognizing a few military friends in the audience and introducing General Franks. Charlie’s strong support of the U.S. military has led him to perform for members of the military around the world.