If Charlie Daniels were still around, last week would have marked his 85th birthday. During his lifetime, the “Devil Went Down to Georgia” artist wasn’t afraid to speak his mind or voice his “proud to be an American” outlook. Part of this die-hard patriotism involved supporting US Vets by starting The Charlie Daniels Journey Home Project and hosting an annual Charlie Daniels Patriot Awards Dinner.
This year’s dinner in Nashville marked the third annual benefit. It furthered the great work of TCDJHP, the Country Hall of Famer’s non-profit. By the end of the night, they announced an impressive number topping $250k in donations to the cause.
Charlie Daniels’ Legacy Lives On in the Support of US Vets
Charlie Daniels’ longtime manager, David Corlew, explained the difficulties of hosting the event this year. “We were faced with both a physical challenge as well as an emotional one … moving venues as well as trying to do one without Charlie,” he relayed. “I quote Charlie in saying, ‘By the grace of almighty God and the United States military,’ we did it. It was an epic evening with friends, family, an awesome group of veterans, warriors, and music giants. It couldn’t have been any better, and I know Charlie would be proud.”
Before his passing, Daniels actually worked closely with Corlew to pick this year’s Patriot Award winners. As usual, they picked individuals who embodied his organization’s mission. Ultimately, the goal remains to support veterans as they go through the transition of their return, rehabilitation, and reintegration to civilian life. Country star Darryl Worley accepted one of the awards for his activism and went on to perform his patriotic hit, “Have You Forgotten.”
“I was humbled to receive the Patriot Award in the presence of so many veterans that have given selfless service to our nation,” says Worley. “I was so honored to be at the top of Charlie’s list. It all just makes me want to ‘do it better!’”
Other heroes who accepted the honor this year include Benghazi survivor Mark “Oz” Geist, MTSU’s Daniels Center, and Daniel Defense firearms manufacturers Marty and Cindy Daniel.
Other Event Highlights
Multi-platinum star Chris Young also performed at the event, joined by a slew of other special guests and speakers. Guests enjoyed speeches and presentations from former US Navy SEALS as well as the former New York City Police Commissioner, Bernie Kerik. One of the speakers, Chris Spence, actually boasts the title of one of the “Real Horse Soldiers” that the “12 Strong” film is based off.
In closing, David Corlew gave a special shout-out to 96-year-old Navy vet Mathias Gutman, who also attended the event. He said the salute was for Gutman’s service on six islands in the South Pacific during World War II. In other words, Gutman embodied a “true American hero.”
TCDJHP continues to do its part in carrying on Charlie Daniels’ mission to support US Vets. They solely rely on public donations to continue their daily operations.