A number of years ago, I had the privilege and honor of performing for U.S. Troops at many of the military installations throughout the Far East and Europe. These U.S.O. Tours were absolutely wonderful. The soldiers were so grateful for the taste of home that we were bringing them through our music.
I have many wonderful memories of my time as a Government Inspected (G.I.) Entertainer. We were transported by the Flying Tigers in huge, powerful military helicopters. We were given the same boxed lunches that the soldiers received while we were onboard the helicopters. I remember being amazed at the amount of food that each box contained. However, I then realized that these guys and gals were doing very difficult physical work and they needed hearty sustenance. I ate only a small portion of my boxed lunch, as I needed to be able to fit into my costumes when I got to the base. It was all very exciting!
Some of the military installations in Korea were so remote that we had to be air lifted in. It was impossible to reach these locations via ground transportation. We performed at the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ). Though the Korean war had long been over, the tension there was palpable. We saw North Korean soldiers standing on guard. We also saw groups of North Korean soldiers marching in formation. It was a unique experience that I’ll never forget.
While in Japan, we visited the city of Hiroshima. This city is best known as the first city in history to be targeted by a nuclear weapon when the United States Army Air Forces (USAAF) dropped an atomic bomb on the city in 1945. It was very sobering to be there.
While in the Paris, I met a man who openly praised America and reflected on the Invasion of Normandy, also known as “Operation Overlord.” He was there! To hear him tell the story made me feel as though I had been there too! He told of the allied forces swooping in to save France. He said that France thought that all was lost and then on Tuesday, June 6, 1944, the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom attacked. This became known as D-Day. Later, Poland, Belgium, Greece, Czechoslovakia and other countries joined the invasion. World War II was soon over. What incredible history!
I had the pleasure of performing for 200 Veterans yesterday in honor of Veterans Day. I was moved to tears, thinking of the sacrifices that these brave men and women have made for America and for Americans. As a result of their commitment, we are free to come and go as we please. We have a democratic system of government that allows us to disagree with each other and work together to find solutions. We have the benefit of diversity and the benefit of many valuable perspectives. We are fortunate indeed. I am grateful today and everyday for our military, past and present. I am thankful to those who have fought and died to protect our freedom. Many “THANKS” to our Veterans.
May God Always Bless America.