The Concert for Valor

Staged to boost awareness of veterans’ support groups, raise funds for veterans charities and salute the troops, HBO’s Concert for Valor drew hundreds of thousands of fans to the National Mall in Washington, D.C., on Veterans Day. HBO, Starbucks, and Chase were the main sponsors, and thanks to a fellow music loving friend, who works at Starbucks HQ, we were lucky to have two “Honored Guest” tickets – landing us in front of the massive crowd.

We arrived at about 2:30, set up camp on our blanket, and started playing cards to pass the time when rehearsals began. A woman walked out, the crowd buzzed and I said, “Should we know who that is?” when I realized the woman was Meryl Streep! Holy cow! We knew we were in for a great night. Meryl Streep

The Black Keys ran trough their entire set! The Black Keys

After a few celebs came out to read their lines and get used to the set up, we figured out how things wold work: A band would perform, a celeb would introduce a video about a military member, the member would be recognized, and the celeb would introduce the next act. Things were slow during the afternoon, but zipped right along at night since while everyone was watching each video, the lazy susan style stage was spinning around to reveal the next act’s set. The technical aspects of the evening were fascinating. And speaking of technical and fascinating: hows about the scaffolding on the Capitol dome? US Capitol Jennifer Hudson

Jennifer Hudson sang the National Anthem and later joined Jessie J for Titanium. Jennifer Hudson & Jessie J

Thanks to the sneak peek in the afternoon, we knew when we saw Meryl that it was time for Dave Grohl. Dave Grohl

My mind was officially blown when The Boss himself joined Dave and The Zac Brown Band for Fortunate Son.

The Boss, Dave Growl, Zac Brown

Big D and I are big John Oliver fans. True Fact: His wife is an Iraq War veteran who was an Army Medic with 1st Cav. And as the saying goes, “If you ain’t Cav, you ain’t sh*t !” (which was fun to yell along with him and the crowd!)

John Oliver Carrie Underwood

Carrie Underwood does not phone it in.

Jack Black had the crowd chant to introduce Metallica. Metallica. Metallica. Metallica! I was surprised they were such the crowd favorite – they were impossible to photograph since arms were flying everywhere.

Jack Black Metallica

From the NY Daily News regarding Springsteen: “…Nuance came from Springsteen’s solo set. Accompanied by just an acoustic guitar, he didn’t flinch from alluding to the more controversial or gritty elements of war. He offered a stripped and slow version of “Promised Land,” the better to savor lyrics which address America’s possibilities, not necessarily its realities. He went further with a desolate and wounded take on “Born In The U.S.A.,” which critiques the military presence in Viet Nam in the ’60s. Likewise, his somber take on “Dancing In The Dark” emphasized the sadness behind its passion.” Bruce Springsteen

Bryan Cranston used a Heisenberg threat to encourage folks to support the troops saying “There’s still a lot of room in Belize for people…” and mentioned both of his parents who served before he introduced Rihanna.

Bryan Cranston Rihanna

Eminem joined RiRi for Monster and then opened his solo set by shouting “Happy Motherf—ing Veterans Day!” Just as our forefathers intended. Eminem

There are tons more photos over on Flickr including folks I’ve omitted here like Bob Woodruff and Jamie Foxx. Thanks again to my pal AK who helped us with tickets! Finally, here’s a little video recap I put together a few days after the show: 

Whirlwind!

This week’s calendar is a blank slate – something I haven’t seen in quite a while. The last two weeks have been full of really exciting adventures!

After three long years, Big Ds project is complete and his 1965 Shelby Cobra replica was delivered from his extraordinary cousin’s garage in Oklahoma to our doorstep.
unloading

That same night, I rocked out at a secret Foo Fighters show at the legendary 9:30 Club.
9:30 Club

I spent a fantastic weekend at “home” in Jacksonville Beach, FL where I visited great friends, ate at some favorite spots, attended three days of the PGA Players Championship, and hit the beach.
me, Shelley & Cheryl at North Beach Fish Camp

Did we win!?

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just before massive sunburn

If you’re an NPR listener (and/or big nerd) you’ll know what a treat it was to attend Carl Kassell’s final recording of Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me at the Warner Theater.

Wait, Wait, Don't Tell Me

Carl & Peter

Friday, we attended the Evening Parade at the Marine Barracks. Established in 1801, it’s the oldest continuously operating Corps post.

Oldest Post of the Corps - founded 1801.

Silent Drill Team

And yesterday, I ran the Marine Corps Historic Half Marathon in Fredericksburg, VA. This is by far the most challenging course of the 12 Half Marathons I’ve done. Everyone hears about Hospital Hill (and dreads it) but there are a LOT of other hills too. A lot.

But I survived, and celebrated at home last night.

glad that's done

celebration

And now back to that work calendar…

Tons more photos from these and other fun adventures are over on Flickr.

Fall wrap-up

Here’s a quick look at recent adventures I’ve been meaning to post about. Thought I’d wrap all of this up so I can get to what I really want to write about: My day at the White House earlier this week.

Besides the marathon, October was full of fun stuff!

I attended the Mount Vernon Wine Festival with Jenny, Tricia, and Tricia’s mom, whom we affectionally call Lulu.

Potomac view from Mt Vernon lawn

Angie invited me to join her at a conference in Las Vegas. I’ve never been there before and enjoyed touring around each day while she worked and then rubbing elbows with notable attorneys (and Joe Theisman!) during the cocktail parties each night.

Bellagio fountain

me, Joe Theismann, and Angie
Hi Gary! (Check out those SuperBowl rings!)

Angie's winnings
Angie had great luck – she won even more after this!

Next up: a trip to New York City and Baltimore with Tricia I dubbed my “Victory Lap” since it was the week of the marathon. What a whirlwind: we attended a taping of Late Night with David Letterman on Halloween. Harrison Ford was one of the guests; he told a joke so inappropriate they had to start over! Afterwards we had dinner with Tricia’s mom and aunt and then we saw the Broadway Show Pippin. It was excellent!

Late Show

skating at Rockefeller Center

9/11 Memorial

Central Park

And the real reason for the trip: a few Matt Nathanson shows! Here’s our Matt-related Instagram Halloween Costume:
Instagram!

He and his band dressed up and performed a few songs as the group Poison:
"Poison"

And when we posted a selfie…
On the train headed home after an awesome adventure. We like that you again liked us liking you, Matt. Rock on!

We toured around DC when our good friend Gary visited. I’m so glad his time here coincided with Veterans Day.

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Arlington Cemetery Amiptheater
The Arlington Cemetery Amphitheater

Earlier today.

November also brought my birthday, and with it: a visit from Rachel and a Roger Clyne & the Peacemakers concert!

Somehow, after last night's birthday shenanigans, we still managed to sip some tequila. #cantinatour13
We attended a Mexican Moonshine tasting (Roger’s tequila) even though we were feeling the effects of some birthday celebrating from the night before.

#cantinatour13

Later in the month, Big D and I took a trip to Oklahoma to visit family and to see the progress on his Shelby Cobra – its a work in progress that’s almost complete.

D and Mark hard at work

Untitled

Love this sign.

And before I knew it: Thanksgiving snuck up on us. We celebrated with Big Ds family in Kokomo, Indiana, where we kicked off the holiday morning with a 5K.

David & Kerry finishing

Thanksgiving 5K finishers

If the 20° temperature didn’t keep us from running, it sure wasn’t going to keep us out of the hot tub!
always making me laugh

As usual, there was plenty of card playing, napping, and laughing.
End of a long day.

Kerry, me, Peggy & Richelle

Thanksgiving '13

And that brings us to Christmas! I can’t believe its only a week away. Some sights so far:

Starting to stick!
Our view of last week’s snow (a letdown after what was predicted!)

Surprised myself by finishing the wrapping and packaging. Just need a few things to arrive in the mail - even when I needed to be ready this early in Germany I never was.

Old Town Alexandria hosts a Scottish Walk – its a Very Big Deal (which I did not really know.)

Scottish Walk

Scottish Walk

Stay tuned for a Christmas related post from the most famous house in the country! But for now: holiday wishes from our house to yours!

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Greatest Generation

I joined the Fort Belvoir Officers’ Spouses’ Club recently and was thrilled to learn they support Honor Flight, a nonprofit organization dedicated to transporting as many United States military veterans as possible to see the memorials of the respective war(s) they fought in Washington, D.C. at no cost to the veterans. I joined their Facebook group and thought, “Hmm…I should greet veterans someday.”

Yesterday, The National Park Service closed all of its parks, including national memorials, as a result of the government shutdown. When I heard about the veterans who one way or another, got through the barriers and toured the WWII Memorial (as well they should!) I drove to the Memorial, but arrived after they were gone.

Shutdown, Day 1

This morning, I did not miss out.

The crowd was a mix of greeters who often gather, school kids on field trips, capitol hill staffers, and members of congress. I was a bit nervous since nobody seemed sure that the veterans would actually get into the Memorial and more barricades were in place than yesterday. Honor Flight representatives passed out American flags while we waited, journalists gathered, and I met a lovely woman who is furloughed from her job at the Department of Justice.

Waiting to welcome veterans to the WWII Memorial

Eventually, I overheard somebody tell Congresswoman Ann Wagner and Congressman Emanuel Cleaver (both of Missouri, and yes, I had to Google them when I got home) that “The park rangers will take a coffee break at 10:30” just in time for the arrival of the busloads of veterans and their escorts.

WWII vets

The crowd clapped, gave the veterans their flags, shook their hands and said, “Thank you for your service” again and again. One gentleman was overwhelmed at the crowd, the reception, and what I imagine was his first glimpse of the Memorial. When he started to cry, so did I.

Honor Flight veterans

Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.)
I won’t mention my personal politics, but I was happy to hear Michele Bachmann say “Every day there’s a shutdown, we’re going to be here to make sure the veterans get in. There’ll be some members of Congress here to make sure they get in.” She was clutching yellow caution tape that I’m guessing she took down from the barriers…(this is me, biting my tongue.)

Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.)

My new friend and I were asked to carry cases of water into the Memorial – it was an honor to be inside at the same time these heroes. I chatted with one man who landed at Utah Beach a few weeks after D Day.

Another was surprised by his granddaughter who arrived with her baby. Seeing the generations pose for photos was touching.

Heartland Honor Flight of Kansas City

So many of these men reminded me of my dad and his brother, two WWII veterans I miss terribly.
Dad, me, Uncle Robert

This amazing group survived World War II and the Great Depression, but unfortunately even they can’t hold back the passage of time. And our world will change when they are no longer with us. A little over a decade ago, there were around six million living WWII veterans; by the end of this decade (with a few hardy exceptions) they will all be gone. Sooner than we think, this unique, inspiring generation will be no more.

More pictures from a remarkable morning are over on Flickr.

An article about the day’s events is on Huffington Post.