My husband had a show this July 4th only four hours away from Nashville in Rogersville, TN. My parents are visiting from Texas, and so we made the trip to see him play. East Tennessee is absolutely beautiful, so it was a treat to make the drive out, and its always fun to see a show!
After a fantastic concert, we settled in to watch the fireworks. I was about to sit down on my lounge chair backstage when a man standing at the barricade asked me to come over. My initial thought was, “Oh no…” already anticipating a request for an autograph.
Now, I don’t make promises that I could even remotely fill such a request… especially since generally such a request is frowned upon. Or at least it always has been with past artists. My husband is still the “new guy” and I don’t want to make waves. So it was definitely with trepidation that I approached him.
Within moments of walking up, I was handed a military ID, and told that he had just gotten back from Afghanistan and would be returning in 28 days. He’d traveled himself from Nashville specifically hoping to meet Joe Diffie (whom my husband works for). He asked if I could possibly make that happen.
I paused a bit, but I decided the least I could do is try. So I headed towards the bus… not entirely sure what to do. I was saved when I saw the tour manager coming at me.
So, starting with, “please don’t hate me…” I explained the situation. And much to my pleasant surprise, he said he’d ask Joe! While I waited, two women approached me asking if Joe would be doing an autograph session after the show, then asking who I was, etc. I was, quite frankly, blind sided by them… and it is also people like these two women that make me hesitant to speak with show attendees. Its questions being shot at me rapid fire that will fluster me, and in turn irritate.
I was TICKLED when the tour manager came off the bus to say that Joe definitely wanted to talk to the man, and I lead him over and introduced them.
Over the course of about the next hour, I had the opportunity to interact with the soldier several times, learning he was originally from Texas — attended my rival school of University of Texas — and that he had come home on leave with many injuries. Shrapnel in his leg, a broken finger, bite wounds on his hand, etc. The fireworks freaked him out (understandably so!) but his kids loved it.
Finally, when he met Joe, he told several stories of things he had experienced while in Afghanistan. And afterwards, he came over and thanked me profusely for taking him seriously and making it happen that he got to meet Joe. He hugged me several times and gave me a kiss on the cheek (telling my husband that if he pointed out that he’d just kissed an Aggie they’d tussle right there!), and all I could keep saying was, “No… thank YOU for all you do.”
The experience of meeting this soldier was a highlight of my July 4th. Getting to thank a soldier… we should all have the opportunity to do that. They are the true heroes.