I’ve given a couple of speeches recently, and in them, I’ve highlighted dad’s patriotism and I thought I would try to expand on it, and further explain what he has done to help our veterans, even after his passing.
Dad was born in Wilmington, NC in 1936, and while only a child, had vivid memories of World War II, one of his first being the bombing of Pearl Harbor.
With Wilmington being a major shipping port, he said that you could sometimes see the light from burning ships that had been targeted by German U-Boats off in the distance.
And of course, he often told the story of praying for our brave soldiers storming the beaches of Normandy on D-Day which gave him the revelation at a very early age that only two things protect America, “The grace of Almighty God, and the United States Military.”
Dad never served in the military. He failed his physical due to his poor eyesight which he attributed to a very high fever he had when he was a child, but he had a great love and respect for those who fought for our freedom.
One of the first things that I remember connecting dad with veterans was a song The CDB recorded in 1982 called “Still in Saigon.” The song was told from the perspective of a Vietnam vet who was struggling with PTSD ten years after serving in Southeast Asia, and the struggles of coming “home” and sadly, the less than friendly welcome that he received after serving.
That song resonated with a lot of Vietnam vets and many of them started coming to dad’s shows and thanking him for shining a light on their struggles.
Again, “Almighty God, and the United States Military.”
This continued on for years, and dad even started doing tours of military bases from Guantanamo Bay to Germany to South Korea.
Then a terrible day 19 years ago when our world changed forever, and our brave men and women were sent to countries that were hard to pronounce, many of them ended with “stan.” Dad took the band over there and performed many times after 9/11, he even performed in a dust storm at al-Asad Air Base in Iraq.
On one of the tours, dad’s drummer had to resort to beating on five-gallon buckets because they did not have a drum kit for guest performers, or even for any of the men and women stationed there that played drums back home. In fact, dad realized that many of the men and women stationed at the bases had musical talent, but very few instruments were available to them. So, in 2005, dad launched Operation Heartstrings to get musical instruments to the bases, and into the hands of those stationed there. They even partnered with Gibson Guitars to provide one hundred Gibson Epiphone guitars for the musically inclined soldiers stationed in the Middle East.
After I introduced dad to Twitter in 2011, he soon started some daily messages, one of which included “22 VETERANS COMMIT SUICIDE EVERY DAY!” and he helped the TN National Guard promote the Guard Your Buddy app which is a support app for TN National Guard members and their families with counseling and suicide prevention information built in to the app.
That was only the beginning, the ball was about to start rolling.
In 2014, dad and his manager, David Corlew, started The Journey Home Project, which was recently renamed The Charlie Daniels Journey Home Project, a charity whose sole purpose is to help veterans adjust to civilian life, and the need is tremendous.
Dad always said that we owe an unpayable debt of gratitude to those who have fought for our freedom, especially to the ones who made the ultimate sacrifice for that freedom.
TCDJHP partners with other military veterans’ organizations to meet the needs of our brave heroes in the best way possible, depending on the need.
This led to a partnership with Middle Tennessee State University to launch The Charlie and Hazel Daniels Veterans and Military Families Center on its Murfreesboro, TN campus. The Daniels Center helps student veterans and their families with school and non-school related needs, and has fulltime VA employees right in the center.
That partnership led to a partnership with the Nashville Predators to create The General’s Fund which will help fund The Daniels Center and help the academic needs of over 1,100 student veterans.
That announcement back in early March was one of the last events that dad was able to be part of. Shortly after, all but two shows were canceled for 2020, before he could get back on the road.
Dad has “changed addresses,” but The Charlie Daniels Journey Home Project lives on, and is a huge part of keeping dad’s legacy alive.
Please help us keep his legacy going and his love for our country and the love of our military.
“Almighty God and the United States Military.”
Pray for our troops, our police, our country and the Peace of Jerusalem.
— Charlie Daniels, Jr.
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