By Elaine WilsonSeptember 18, 2008
FORT SAM HOUSTON, Texas -- Country music superstar Tim McGraw thanked the military for their service and sacrifice by performing a free concert for about 25,000 service members and their Families Sept. 11 at MacArthur Parade Field here.
"We can only begin to sympathize the immense sacrifice the Soldiers and their Families make on a daily basis," said McGraw in a press release. "We hope our show gives them a brief interlude of their duties and time to enjoy themselves for a little while."
The Grammy-winning artist drew fans from throughout San Antonio to the field behind the post flagpole, which was transformed into a high-tech concert arena complete with giant view screens and a strip of vendor booths.
"I think this was a great idea ... definitely a good thing to mark Sept. 11," said Air Force Airman Ashley Dyer, Lackland Air Force Base, Texas. "I am a Tim McGraw fan and I was very excited to have the opportunity to be here to see him."
Before he rocked the post country-style for nearly two hours, McGraw took a few minutes to meet with wounded warriors and Family members backstage. He took individual pictures and signed autographs on everything from posters to a little girl's guitar.
"I'm going to be a singer and songwriter some day," Erin Silvas told McGraw while he signed her guitar. "Would you like my autograph'"
On stage, the Louisiana native sang his old favorites and new hits while the full-capacity crowd sang along word for word. In tribute to the star, Soldiers pulled their Velcro name tags off their uniforms and threw them on the stage. McGraw picked each one up, and without losing a beat, placed them on speakers in front of his band, the Dancehall Doctors.
"Tim is making it well known that he is here for 9/11, and we believe what he is doing for the Soldiers sets the mood for all to remember," concert attendee Bob Stanfield said.
McGraw's opening act, Katie Rae Davis, also was well received by the crowd as she performed a mix of her own music and popular country hits.
"I came down here from Fort Hood (Texas) and had surgery this morning," said Staff Sgt. Darlene Houle. "I heard about Tim McGraw's concert and thought this would be a good way to recover from surgery. I never heard of Katie Rae before tonight, but she was great."
The East Texas native was familiar to some in attendance. Prior to the concert, the 17-year-old singer visited the Warrior and Family Support Center here, where she performed up close and personal for wounded warriors, many of whom were not able to attend the concert that night.
During a short break in the concert, post leaders showed their appreciation to Davis and McGraw. Each was given a framed picture, and McGraw a letter from the installation commander thanking him on behalf of the San Antonio military community.
"I like that he came out on a memorable day. No one will ever forget his concert on Sept. 11," said Sgt. Nathan Hunt, Warrior Transition Battalion.
The concert was co-produced by the U.S. Army Family and MWR Command, Fort Sam Houston FMWR Directorate and Glenn Smith Presents, Inc.
(Esther Garcia, Jeff Crawley, Olivia Mendoza and Cheryl Harrison contributed to this article)