When I look back on my ProTour, I cannot seem to find the words to explain the impact it had on me. However, I assure you, I will do my best.
Growing up in the United States, we grow up with an appreciation for our military because of things we see on the news and hear about on TV. What we don’t realize is that words like sacrifice, and bravery aren’t just words, they are truths that the servicemen and women I met on my tour live by everyday.
I was very fortune to visit such amazing bases on my ProTour with Armed Forces Entertainment, because all the bases I went to were secluded. The men and women stationed at these bases could not be with their families, and they had limited resources and limited Wi-Fi to communicate with their loved ones back home. To see these things firsthand makes you realize that the sacrifices extend past the services members themselves, but to their families and friends.
Starting in Greenland, we landed at Thule Air Base. In Thule, there is nothing but the air base. There was no town, one grocery store, one community center for recreational activities and just 20 minutes of daylight each day. Although these things sound harsh and almost unlivable, the service members at Thule were incredible. They were happy, they were lively, they were passionate about their jobs. They took Thule for what it was, and they embraced it. Just sitting down and talking about their families back home, or playing basketball, or bowling, the service members in Thule reminded us that life is all about what you make of it.
We got stuck in Thule for a few extra days, which allowed us to meet and spend time with the rest of the men and women at the base. The best part of getting stuck was sitting on the floor with everyone singing songs while Joey played music on his guitar. It was great to just share a few hours with these amazing people, living in a moment that I will never forget.
From there we went to Honduras, which was completely different from Greenland. We landed at the Honduran airport, about an hour and a half away from Soto Cano Air Base. This base was interesting because it was not designated to one branch of military. Our time there was short, but I had another memorable moment there. We were watching the Super Bowl with some Army members where I started up a conversation with a shy guy. It was hard to ignore the giant scar that crossed his face. He started talking about how great Honduras had been until he was out in the town one day and saw a man leaning over a woman beating her. He went in to save the women, but the man came at his face with a broken beer bottle. In this moment, I realized that our service members are not only protecting our rights and freedoms in the US, but they are making the whole world a safer place. This man was a true example of a hero to me. He didn’t care that he had a scar, he only cared that the woman being injured was OK.
My last stop was El Salvador. In El Salvador the base is called an embassy. Our naval troops cannot stay on base, so they stay at a hotel. We shared an amazing day in El Salvador. We went to the embassy to do a short performance, tour around and get a firsthand look at the Blackhawk helicopters. That afternoon, we got to just sit and talk with everyone on base. We got to meet some Navy SEALs that drove about two hours to meet us, and we got to do some tap dancing with some naval members that had danced in their younger years. This afternoon was memorable because it felt normal. It felt good to sit and talk about people’s lives at home — their kids, their dogs, things they missed. It felt good to hear about everything they couldn’t wait to get back home to.
Realistically, I cannot put into words all the incredible moments I had on my tour. The best I can do is tell you that every moment I spent with a service member from any branch, at any grade, was inspiring. It taught me so much about our military, our country's battle and the world we live in. One of the greatest things I heard on this tour was, “Sometimes we even forget we are human, but it was really nice for you guys to come here and remind us.” The people we met were not just service members. They were dads, moms, sisters, brothers and friends. They are people just like us, and I am forever grateful for the bravery and sacrifices that they make every day to keep us safe and free.