Their hard-driving songs have chronicled hard times past and good times ahead. Now Everclear will help Fort Leonard Wood celebrate the nation's 240th birthday on July 4 at Gammon Field.

"It is an honor for us to play for our troops both here and abroad," said lead vocalist and guitarist Art Alexakis, whose voice many listeners may recognized on hits such as the classic rock tribute "AM Radio," "Santa Monica," "Father of Mine," "I Will Buy You a New Life," and more.

Alexakis, along with guitarist Davey French, bass player Freddy Herrera, keyboardist Josh Crawley and drummer Sean Winchester, have played at military installations across the U.S. and worldwide, including those in Iraq, Kuwait, Abu Dhabi, Doha, Japan, Korea, Germany, Hawaii and even Guantanamo.

"Being able to bring a little bit of American rock and roll to the brave Soldiers is our way of thanking them and our country for their service and sacrifice," Alexakis said.

Bringing Everlear to Fort Leonard Wood was an easy decision.

"Almost all their songs are hits," said Eli Wilson, Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation Community Activities manager. He added that the concert is just one of many events that will take place during what is annually the largest Independence Day celebration in central Missouri.

The event, which draws between 12,000 and 15,000 spectators each year, is free and open to the public. However, Wilson noted that the federal Real ID guidelines will be in effect, and he urged visitors to make sure they have the proper ID before driving up to the gate.

"We've been instructed that we will follow the guidelines of the Real ID Act, so if visitors have a state-issued ID from Missouri, Minnesota, Washington or American Samoa, they will have to provide an alternate form of ID," Wilson said.

Visitors can get a jump on the celebration as early as July 2 with the annual "These Colors Don't Run" 5k run and the Red, White and Blue Golf Tournament, scheduled for 8 a.m. July 4. See story, page C3 for more information on these events.

Gammon Field will open at 3 p.m. July 4, with multiple activities, including static displays, interactive games, musical entertainment, vendors, a car show and more. Free events for children include pony rides, a petting zoo, interactive inflatable play areas and carnival rides. food and beverage concessions will be available for purchase.

"We'll have some of the typical stuff we've always had, but we've also added some things this year," Wilson said. "The carnival rides are one of the new things this year. They will be free. We'll have two rides meant for adults and two for kids. It should add a carnival atmosphere to that area of the field."

Other events include:

-- The July 4 Car Show is currently accepting entries online at fortleonardwoodmwr.com. The show is free and open to the public and will include multiple categories of cars, trucks and motorcycles. For more information, visit the website or call the FMWR Auto Craft Shop at 573.596.0131, ext. 60243.

-- The July 4 Cornhole Tournament is another new event that will be a part of the celebration this year. Two-person teams can sign up online at fortleonardwoodmwr.com to compete for prizes. The tournament will start at 3 p.m. Entry is free and open to the public.

-- The Disc Dogs from Kansas City will perform again this year, with shows scheduled at 5 and 7 p.m. "Each one will be about a 20-minute performance. We will have them right in the middle of the field in front of the parade stand," Wilson said.

Live music is scheduled to begin at 5:30 p.m. with a performance by the 399th Army Band rock band, the Rough Riders.

At 7:30 p.m., the Independence Day ceremony is scheduled to begin, with remarks from Maj. Gen. Kent Savre, Maneuver Support Center of Excellence and Fort Leonard Wood commanding general, and the 50-Gun Salute to the Union.

Everclear takes the stage at 8 p.m.

Following the concert, visitors can enjoy the largest fireworks display in central Missouri.

Wilson noted that the fireworks, concert and many of the events and activities are made possible by the money the post earns from its recycling efforts.

"Lots of the things we have available are because of the recycling program," he said. "That affords us to have those activities on the field."

Wilson also noted that the celebration involves the efforts of hundreds of military and civilian personnel.

"This event is put on and supported by the entire installation," he said. "It's not just an FMWR event. Every brigade, every directorate is involved in some way. It is definitely a group effort to put on this event for the community."

The event features festival seating; visitors are encouraged to bring their lawn chairs.

No alcoholic beverages of any kind, coolers, pets, fireworks, bicycles, skateboards or roller blades will be allowed at the venue.

For more information, call 573.596.0131, ext. 66913.


Enjoy the celebration: Have the right ID ready

Visitors to Fort Leonard Wood's Independence Day Celebration should be aware of the post's access-control procedures, which include requirements to comply with the federal Real ID Act. All persons age 18 years and older must present a state or federally issued picture identification.

Individuals with a driver's license from Missouri, Minnesota, Washington and American Samoa, or those not having a Department-of-Defense-issued-ID card, will need a supplemental form of identification, such as a Social Security card, birth certificate or passport to gain entry onto the installation.

Contact the Visitor's Center for questions about entry documentation at 573.596.0131, ext. 60590.