FORT CAVAZOS, Texas — The annual Freedom Fest celebration drew thousands of members of the Fort Cavazos community to the Great Place to celebrate America’s independence.
Freedom Fest began with a Salute to the Nation ceremony where each state was recognized. The ceremony hadn’t been performed for four years. Then, attendees enjoyed browsing around different vendor booths, eating food and stellar entertainment.
Rock band Bowling for Soup was the opening act and lead singer Jaret Reddick said, on the Great Big Podcast, that the band has performed for military members for years all around the world and it’s been a rewarding experience.
“Being able to put smiles on (service members) faces and for the officers to come up and say, ‘Man, it is so great to see everybody smiling and having a good time,’ that’s what’s been great,” he said. “First and foremost, it’s amazing to (travel and perform) for the men and women who keep us all safe.”
Reddick shared that his family has served in the military and the wife of their bass player, Rob Felicetti, is currently serving in the Navy, which is why they jump at opportunities to perform for service members.
“My dad served and his brother is still missing from the Korean war … we definitely understand the sacrifice and we’re super happy anytime we get the chance to come in and give somebody a half-hour or hour of smiles,” he said. “It’s just the best.”
Tone Loc and Vanilla Ice also took the stage to entertain the attendees, then the night was wrapped up with a 30-minute long fireworks show. Jessica Weiss and her son showed up early, with their Vanilla Ice shirts, to ensure they had a great spot to watch both the entertainment and fireworks.
“Honestly, you can’t go wrong with fireworks or Vanilla Ice,” she said.
Dr. Peter Craig, director of the Directorate of Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation, said Freedom Fest is a great opportunity to give back to the community that gives so much to Fort Cavazos throughout the year.
“This is a chance for us to give back to the community,” Craig said. “The Killeen community, Cove, Belton, everybody all along here — they all support us throughout the year.”
After the Salute to the Nation ceremony, Lt. Gen. Sean C. Bernabe, III Armored Corps and Fort Cavazos commanding general, asked three things of the attendees.
“One, take a little bit of time between now and the Fourth of July to think about our forefathers and the courage and bravery it took for them to stand up and say, ‘We’re going to declare our independence from the British Empire and we’re going to build a new nation,’” he said. “That took guts and courage… Two, during this upcoming, four-day, holiday weekend please spend some time with those you love. Three, while you do that, please be safe and take care of each other.”