Lee Ann Womack has just completed a Stars for Stripes tour visting troops in Italy and Germany. Stars for Stripes President/CEO Judy Seale was with Lee Ann at the “Homefront Celebration” for US troops in Vicenza, Italy on June 14. Here’s Judy’s report for June 14:
Today’s activities include interviews, autographs, and Lee Ann’s concert. We were an hour late leaving the hotel and I was a little bit stressed. We missed the live interview with AFN and went straight to the autograph session at the BX. There was a very long line for autographs, and we were able to get AFN to call Lee Ann and let her go live on the air before their broadcast ended.
We left the autograph session and went to the show site. A huge crowd had already gathered. Lee Ann met with the General and his wife for a while and learned a little more history about the men and women stationed in Vicenza. She then did interviews with Stars and Stripes, AFN and the local base newspaper, and met the winners of the Stars and Stripes contest.
We all watched a “Spirit Video” which showed scenes from the troops one year deployment to Afghanistan. Lee Ann took the stage right on time. The weather was perfect and the crowd was huge. They crowded as close to the stage as possible and Lee Ann gave them an awesome performance, interspersed with thanking them for their service. The General gave her a beautiful silver plaque afterwards and LTC. Sughrue gave her and the musicians and crew one of his coins. The Denver Bronco cheerleaders performed next, and Master P and Lil’ Romeo closed the show. It was a great night with a variety of entertainment that was sure to please everyone.
The staff that helped us plan this – all the people at Camp Ederle, MWR/USAREUR, the production company and tour bus company from Germany worked so hard on this event and it was definitely a tremendous success.
Being able to provide entertainment to this group of people was so special to me because of the time I was able to spend with them in Afghanistan. I had a few minutes to walk around and chat with some of the soldiers and there were several that remembered me and thanked me for bringing them entertainment during their deployment in support of OEF. THAT is what makes all the long hours spent putting these events together worthwhile.
We sometimes forget how badly the troops deployed to the bases throughout Germany and parts of the world other than Iraq and Afghanistan NEED entertainment to boost their morale and show them that we appreciate their sacrifices. I was fortunate to be able to spend a little time at dinner last night talking to LTC Sughrue about this. I would like to close today‚Äôs report with a little message from him:
“Entertainment/Entertainers to the front… why it is so important:
Soldiers are prepared to give their lives for our freedom – I am and fortunately my family truly understands it as they too value it in its purest form. Each one of us grows up in America knowing and understanding freedom in our own unique way; and during our impressionable years of growing up we also tend to emulate mentors and idolize a song, a singer, and/or an entertainer(s).
When an entertainer visits our Soldiers on the front, the dynamic is the most unique expression of mutual appreciation I have ever seen in my life. Entertainers that make the journey, giving of themselves to visit our Soldiers overseas, have a much better appreciation of our freedom and send that message to the heart and soul of the military community inclusive of the Soldiers, civilian work force, and family members. The visit equates to their personal expression of selflessness – a value internalized by our Soldiers and families in respect of freedom. We are not only honored, but the visit inspires us to want to do even more. It tends to be one of the most significant highlights of our lives.
Thank you is simply not enough.”
A line that stands out for me in his message is “the visit inspires us to want to do even more. It tends to be one of the most significant highlights of our lives.” One email from a soldier, marine, airman, or sailor is all it takes to inspire me to do even more and EVERY tour becomes the highlight of my life. It’s impossible to explain to a celebrity how a tour will forever change their live‚Ä¶they have to experience it to understand.
Judy Seale is President/CEO of Stars for Stripes, a non-profit organization dedicated to providing quality entertainment to internationally deployed U.S. military forces. Bringing together professionals from aviation, entertainment and the military, Stars For Stripes is improving the overseas tour experience for performers, sponsors, donors, and most importantly, for the dedicated men and women protecting our national interests.
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