While protestors took to the streets denigrating the election of the nations’ new president in the big cities there was strong unity and comradery among the soldiers, sailors, Marines and airmen who have served or serve our nation at the “Concert for Heroes” Veterans Day Nov. 11 at Galway Downs.
While bands played, Marine and Army veterans, who may have shared a friendly rivalry during wartime, walked arm and arm knowing they had given their all to defending the greatest nation in the world, America.
“Thank you brother. Thank you for your service,” was heard over-and-over again by veterans, their families, friends and area residents at the annual concert sponsored by Manzanita Ranch, and this year The Phoenix Patriot Foundation, Gosch Ford, the owners of Galway Downs and others.
The growing celebration of thanks to our veterans saw more and more veterans and their families stroll in to the rocking music of JD Priest, Tim Moyer and Tom Bray, the Barnyard Boyz, Phoenix Patriot Band, Michael Thomas and Friends, Slow Traffic, Jen Householder and nine other local bands as the evening grew on.
The bands, who all gave their performances free that evening, praised and thanked the veterans attending with some proudly remembering their own military service days in World War II, Korea, the Cold War, Vietnam and the Middle East and enjoying the freedom they earned by putting their lives on the line. “Thank You, Veterans,” the band members shouted as they took the stages.
Two stages, the Patriot Stage in the new Galway Outdoor Amphitheater and the Kentina stage saw the veterans, families and spectators move back and forth to hear both popular and patriotic songs played by the talented musicians. Children and grandchildren of the veterans romped and played in the green grass in front of the Patriot Stage well into the evening. Glasses were lifted to each other and those still serving in our armed forces at the Kentina.
Present for the event was Ken Smith, owner of the newly designed Galway Down amphitheater and Kentina named after he and his wife. Smith said he was proud to host the Concert for Heroes at Galway and for his friend Johnny Roberts, director of Manzanita Ranch where the “Horses are the Therapy.”
While the Patriot Stage was being readied for the Barnyard Boyz that evening, Roberts, a veteran himself and a cancer survivor, took a seat in front of the stage to take a few minutes to thank all the veterans attending and explain how Manzanita Ranch and its “One Good Day,” program invites veterans, first responders and cancer survivors suffering from Posttraumatic Stress Syndrome and other debilitating diseases to spend a day at the ranch with his horses to get away from the memories that continue to haunt them.
It is a proven therapy for those suffering from their past traumatic experiences. It is the third year “Concert for Heroes” has been held on Veterans Day, the first during the dedication of the Moving Wall at the Duck Pond in Temecula.
Darrin Isham, Phoenix Foundation Musical Director and decorated Navy Seal, brought the microphone out to those “most important VIPs,” some the veterans in the audience shaking their hands and asking them where and when they served and to specially thank them for their service.
Another special guest, newly elected Riverside County 3rd District Supervisor Chuck Washington, a veteran himself and his wife, stopped by to say “Thank You” to the Veterans attending. He added his special thanks to the wives and girlfriends of servicemen and veterans who support and love their husbands during time of war and peace.
There were several special pauses during the 2-10 p.m. special “Concert for Heroes,” playing the “Star Spangled Banner” opening the event and at sunset when the entire crowd of veterans, their families, friends, patriots and community leaders became silent to hear “Taps” played by Tom Bray. Hands over hearts and heads bowed all remembered and sent their silent prayers to their friends and fellow brothers in arms lost in battle, but never forgotten.
Other bands playing for free at the “Concert for Heroes” at Galway Downs Nov. 11 included Life Time Rocker, Tim Walsh, Noizee Neighborz, Joe Gillaspie and Ryan Beuter, Ox Roxx, Shoot 4 Tuezday, Off the Vine and Joe and Bernadette.
Plans for next year’s Veteran’s Day Concert for Heroes is already underway and is inviting bands and volunteers who are interested to sign up or who wish to help Manzanita Ranch to contact Johnny Roberts at manzanitaranch.org. Manzanita Ranch is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization. (909) 816-9450.