Becky and I got the chance to spend last night in the company of several hundred veterans and their sweethearts for a Valentines for Veterans concert featuring Mr. Aaron Tippin. He played to a sold out audience at the Walton Arts Center here in Fayetteville.
The Valentines for Veterans Concert Series began in 2007 as a way to pay tribute to veterans and provide a way for veterans and their sweethearts to spend time together. Most Americans are largely unaware of the staggering divorce rate blamed on Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom. The concerts are the VA's way of helping couples take care of each other around Valentine's Day.
And the Arkansas Gold Star Families were invited to attend as special guests. We had VIP seating in the second row and we were invited to show up early and get backstage to meet Aaron Tippin before the show.
As you can see, I will need MUCH more red carpet experience before I can be expected to know which camera I should look at and when…
After meeting Aaron – to whom I'll now refer as if we are old friends – we were escorted to our seats by a handsome young UA ROTC cadet named Clint. We quickly observed that we were two of the youngest people in the entire, packed theater. Retired vets from all five branches filled the place. We were just a couple of pups down front enjoying the show.
It was quite the Who's Who event. Mayor Jordan was part of the welcome, Jake & Woody from a local morning radio show were there to introduce Aaron - it was quite the thing. To start the festivities, they played each of "The Songs", and Becky and I hooped and hollered and HOOAHed like animals when they played the Army Song. (Mom – your favorite!) And much of the evening was sprinkled with Army/Navy or Navy/Marines comments boisterously yelled from random audience members.
After several unsuccessful attempts at a self-portrait, we politely asked the lady in front of us to take our picture.
And though I've attended my share of concerts and should know better, I filled my camera with about 75 pictures that all look exactly like this:
Someone should really develop a good way to take pictures at concerts that don't end up as really bright close ups of the backs of the heads of the people in front of you. Honestly. You can't even really see his cool American Flag guitar. You'll just have to take my word for it.
It's so cool the way Aaron has committed his time and energy to the troops deployed and separated from their families and to the veterans back home – and to writing good, honest, patriotic songs that mean an awful lot to people. He's not the biggest star out there, but he knows what he stands for and where he comes from — and he gives so much back.
While I am a card-carrying Country Music fan and knew nearly every word to every song, Becky politely clapped along and had a good time. I think the only songs she had even heard of were Kiss This and the Jerry Reed cover he did as part of his encore – East Bound and Down. But we had a great night and got to meet several other Gold Star Families from Arkansas. OH! And Aaron totally winked at me.