What are you doing over the three-day weekend? Barbecuing? Swimming? Staying cool indoors by catching a summer flick? Kix Brooks is celebrating Memorial Day with a special version of his weekly radio show, honoring service men and women with “A Salute to America’s Heroes.”
Brooks, of the country duo Brooks & Dunn, was inspired to tape the special as part of his “American Country Countdown” show after receiving a letter from a friend of Cpl. Jessica Ellis, a medic with the 101st Airborne Division at Fort Campbell, Ky.
The letter included a picture of Brooks and Ellis, snapped when Brooks performed for the troops in Iraq last year, and some horrible news. Ellis was killed last May when her vehicle struck an explosive device. Three other soldiers traveling with her were wounded.
"It made me sick in the stomach to think about a parent having to get this kind of news," said Brooks, who has two children of his own.
"When you're over in Iraq and especially when you're visiting with soldiers and you're doing shows, you get a little disconnect. You realize you're in a war zone, but when you're backstage and especially with these nurses and Jessica in particular who was just like any fun-loving 23-year-old girl and who looked like a college kid ... it didn't even seem real."
Ellis’ friend asked if Brooks would write to the soldier’s family because Ellis was a huge fan of country music and really enjoyed meeting the singer-singer.
After carrying around the letter in his briefcase and thinking about the right words to say, Brooks e-mailed Ellis’ family.
"They responded, and after many e-mails I think I finally got a handle on where their emotions were," he said. "They were obviously very proud of their daughter."
Last month Brooks spent time talking to Ellis’ friends during the taping of “A Salute to America’s Heroes.”
Ellis’ family requested that the show honor the soldier by playing tribute to all service men and woman rather than just singling her out because she was such a team player.
The special is being aired this weekend on about 125 stations as well as the Armed Forces Radio Network.
Hope all of our readers have a wonderful Memorial Day weekend! See you Tuesday!
Read the AP story here.
Click here for the “American Country Countdown” Web site.