The sun was beaming high above the Grand Ole Opry as many people packed the red carpet not just to see country stars like Trace Adkins and Terri Clark, but to give a spirited celebration for the numerous veterans of Desert Storm who were on hand for the annual Salute the Troops concert on Tuesday (May 23).
Clark was just one of the stars performing at the special event, welcoming the veterans on the carpet beforehand. “We’re honoring the troops and veterans of Desert Storm and not just Desert Storm, but every serviceman and woman who has gone out and put their life on the line to protect our freedom as a country,” Clark tells Sounds Like Nashville on the red carpet.
And for the “Now That I Found You” singer, this event is a personal one. Her grandfather was a member of the Canadian Armed Forces and was a prisoner of war for four years. He also suffered the heartbreaking loss of his two brothers while fighting. “Everything about that is right,” she says of participating in an event at the historic venue to honor servicemen and women. “It means a lot to me to be out here and be a part of this tonight.”
While the evening was packed with country music from the likes of Clark, Adkins, Chris Young and Charlie Daniels, it also served as so much more. Fans learned all about the heroic actions of the veterans that filled the audience and the National Desert Storm Memorial in Washington D.C. being built in their honor.
“Our heroes who protect this great nation that we love, the United States of America, when they come to visit us here at the Grand Ole Opry or we visit them wherever they are, it’s always a touching moment for us to say in our small way of saying ‘thank you’ for what you’ve done to help us have the freedom that we continue to have and to keep us protected so that we can go out and sing the songs that we love and do the music we enjoy,” Dailey & Vincent’s Jamie Dailey says humbly.
Like Clark, Salute the Troops has personal impact for Dailey’s musical partner Darrin Vincent, whose grandfather served in World War II and was a two-time Purple Heart winner. Dailey & Vincent also traveled to Washington, D.C. in 2007 with Jimmy Fortune to commemorate the 25th anniversary of The Wall at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. “Anytime they ask us to be a part of any function like this from the Grand Ole Opry, we’ll step up. Something we believe in being patriotic and we believe in our military and their military families,” adds Vincent.
Country music has always held our military and veterans in high regard and Clark believes it’s because the genre represents what they stand for. “I feel that country music lifestyle it’s about values, it’s about family, it’s about our country, it’s about our freedom,” she explains. “There are so many songs in our genre that encompass what the military is about and what our veterans are about and I feel like as a format, we are the military’s format, and that’s why I think it’s a no-brainer that we’re doing this here tonight.”