I was watching Larry King Live the other night (as an aside, that's when you know you are in your 30s - when Larry King becomes a viable viewing option in the evenings) and Robin Williams was on. In amongst lots of hilarious and borderline manic discussion, he mentioned that he spent time in Baghdad and Afghanistan entertaining the troops. As you know from my July 4th post, I've personally had a close friend deployed to both of those places, and I have a special place in my heart for the soldiers and their families back home. Hearing about Robin Williams' trips to visit the troops reminded me of a promise I made to myself when we moved to TN. Seeing as we are in the state of country music, I was sure I would be able to do this in person, but since I haven't bumped into Toby Keith in Publix or the diaper aisle at Target, I am about to fulfill this promise the best way I know how.
Dear Mr. Keith,
I am sure you receive tons of fan mail about how great your music is and how entertaining you are in concert. I have to agree on both counts - my two sons can sing every word on your greatest hits CD (I am such a proud mama!), and when I called my sister from my cell phone at your concert in Cincinnati several years ago, she cried listening to you perform. But this letter is to thank you for something else entirely.
I know that you have personally made several trips overseas to Baghdad and Afghanistan to entertain the troops, and I just really want to thank you for doing that. I remember distinctly turning on the TV one evening and seeing you over there in your body armor and cowboy hat (why that look hasn't taken off here, I don't know) joking onstage with a large crowd of soldiers. I remember scanning the crowd looking for my soldier friend, W., and when I didn't catch a glimpse of him, feeling disappointed. But then I realized that even though I hadn't seen his face, the faces I did see were smiling and laughing and having a good time. If you think your time over there is just a gift to the troops, think again.
I have no way of knowing whether W. saw you in concert that day. But just the thought that he could have been there, relaxing a bit and smiling, made me feel better. Although he hasn't shared the details of his time at war, I know it was a difficult experience. A few hours of good music and a little laughter may have been priceless. If family and friends can't fly over there to spread some joy, it means the world to us back home that you went in our place.
So thank you (and thank you Robin Williams and all those other entertainers who make the trip to see the troops). To answer two of the most profound - although possibly rhetorical - questions you pose to our generation: I liked you a ton before, but I like you now even more, and you are my daddy.*
Your fan and a soldier's friend,
*For those of you who are so uncultured you have no idea what I am talking about, two of Toby's greatest songs are entitled "How Do You Like Me Now?" and "Who's Your Daddy?". For an interesting rendition of these songs, give my 5 year old or 3 year old a call. They sing them all the time.