A Grand Ole Evening - Soapbox Jr.
It seems like I’ve been writing an awful lot about tributes to dad recently, I guess primarily because there have been a lot of them in the past couple of weeks. Most of them have centered on the military, probably because of the proximity to Memorial Day.
This continued Saturday night which was another huge milestone, and a bit of a “Sadiversary” as it was the first time mom and I had returned to the Grand Ole Opry House since the last time dad played the Grand Ole Opry in 2019.
It was the Opry’s “Salute the Troops” night and boasted a start-studded lineup with Luke Combs, Chris Young, Lauren Alaina, Riders in the Sky, “The Queen of Bluegrass” Rhonda Vincent and the Rage, Jeannie Seely and one other artist who I’ll get to in a little bit.
First of all, everyone we saw with the Opry, from the security guards to manager “Opry Dan” Rogers, we could not have been treated any better. The one provision that was different from previous years was that we had to sit in the audience instead of backstage. Because of Covid protocols, the backstage is limited to working personal and artists, but they also wanted us out in the crowd for something very special.
We sat with retired Army Lt. General Keith Huber, who works with the Charlie and Hazel Daniels Veterans and Military Families Center at MTSU.
The Daniels Center is the largest veteran support center on campus in the U.S. and it helps military-connected students at MTSU “seeking academic success and quality employment.”
It is also supported by the Predators Foundation, the charitable arm of Nashville’s NHL team, and Saturday night they announced that Big Machine Motorsports and the Big Machine Music City Grand Prix would also be partnering with the Daniels Center.
Apparently, MTSU & the Daniels Center sponsored the entire second half-hour of the show, because Gen. Huber got up to announce the partnering, and part of the presentation was a beautiful video tribute to dad which brought a few tears to mom and I.
The televised portion kicked off with Chris Young, and he mentioned dad’s involvement in the Daniels Center, and thanked Gen Huber for keeping dad’s legacy alive, said how much he missed dad and recognized mom and me in his remarks.
Thank you, Chris.
A photographer captured a picture of me and mom during Gen. Huber’s announcement, and while you can see the emotion on both of our faces, the blue lighting made my eyes look like I went the distance with Apollo Creed.
We parked in the backstage area, so we were walking back and I got a text from a publicist friend that Randy and Mary Travis were backstage, so we said hello before we left, it’s always good seeing them, they are very dear people.
Now about the other artist that was on the Opry that night.
A few weekends ago, I went back to meet Gen. Jerry Boykin at World Outreach Church to get him to sign a couple of books to dad, posthumously. Christian artist, Matthew West, was leading worship at the Saturday night service and performing a short concert after.
After Gen. Boykin signed the books and I said hello to Col. Ollie North who was also speaking that day, I headed out of the green room, and just caught a glimpse of Matthew talking to someone. I almost stopped and introduced myself, because I’m a huge fan. His music has helped me through some tough times and helped bring me closer to the Lord. But I had just left the room and thought it would be awkward. I had been there to get the books signed, mission accomplished, and I didn’t want to step back in and “gherm” (music biz term) him.
When we walked through the backstage area before the show, we saw a few people we knew, and then and low and behold, somebody introduced me to Matthew, who I didn’t even know was on the show. We talked briefly, because he had to go rehearse, but I was glad I got to talk to him briefly and get a picture… So, I got to gherm him after all.
God’s timing may not always line up with mine, but He is always faithful.
It was a great evening, filled with lots of emotion and music.
By the way, if you haven’t checked out Rhonda Vincent’s parody of “I’ve Been Everywhere,” with a pandemic twist as “I Ain’ Been Nowhere” – which she performed that night - do yourself a favor and check it out. It’s brilliantly hilarious.
Let’s all make the day count!
What do you think?
Pray for our troops, our police, our nation and for the peace of Jerusalem
God Bless America!
— Charlie Daniels, Jr.
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