American Freedom Festival A Tribute to the Veterans of America's Armed Forces Event Summary by Ted Hacker, AFF On October 25, 2008 the American Freedom Foundation presented the 5th Annual American Freedom Festival at the Patriot Center at George Mason University in Fairfax, VA. American Freedom Foundation co-founder, Sergeant Major of the Army (retired) Jack L. Tilley hosted the event, which pays tribute to the men and women of America's Armed Forces. More than 8,000 enthusiastic music fans packed the Patriot Center to hear country music stars Alan Jackson, Trace Adkins and James Otto. The entire event was broadcast to over 350 military bases in over 170 countries around the world on The Pentagon Channel. In keeping with tradition, various presentations and acknowledgements to those who fight to keep us free were made throughout the evening. Beginning with co-presenting sponsor, The National Guard, Special Assistant to the Director of the Army National Guard, Major General Raymond Carpenter, introduced the Guard presentation, which included a moving moment when wounded warrior SFC Bryan Florence was recognized. Representatives of co-presenting sponsor, Trend Integration, then joined SMA Tilley on stage. Together they presented a check for $50,000 to Operation Rebound, established by the Challenged Athletes Foundation (CAF) to provide unparalleled sports opportunities and support to our veterans who have suffered permanent physical injury in the line of duty. Accepting for Operation Rebound was SFC Michael J. McNaughton who lost his right leg and two fingers on his right hand when he stepped on a land mine while performing his duties. It was quite a moment! No one could have ever expected what happened next. John Haggai, joint venture partner of Outback Steakhouse, our third presenting sponsor, presented SMA Tilley with a check for $75,000 representing the proceeds of the16th Annual Outback Steakhouse Charity Golf Tournament, which recently named the American Freedom Foundation its beneficiary. The crowd went completely crazy with appreciation for Outback. SMA asked John to join him as the final presentation of the evening was made. Lieutenant General Robert Wilson, Brigadier General Gary Cheek and Rear Admiral Matt Nathan were asked to come on stage to accept a contribution from the American Freedom Foundation to in the amount of $100,000! It has been the mission of the foundation to help our wounded warriors and their families in as direct a way as possible. will direct this contribution to Walter Reed Army Medical Center, Naval Medical Center San Diego, Brooke Army Medical Center and Bethesda Naval Hospital to help provide care to our wounded heroes. A hush came over the audience as Lieutenant General Wilson gave his moving remarks about our military and their families and what they meant to all of us. Earlier in the evening at the Sponsors' Reception, SMA Tilley made check presentations to Easter Seal Military and Veterans Initiative, Rebuilding Together (Veterans' Housing Program), Trees For Troops, Military Child Education Coalition, Operation Second Chance, Gold Star Family Support and Armed Services YMCA. In all the American Freedom Foundation gave away $200,000 in support of our wounded warriors and service members everywhere. It was an amazing event and evening with great entertainment, moving tributes to our military and recognition of charities via contributions that do such unbelievable work on behalf of the men and women of America's Armed Forces.