Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Music show will feature Billy Joe Shaver, corpsman

Captain Moonlight to visit Bosque Bottoms

Meridian – The old joke is only funny because it's true.

Marines – “grunts,” the men in combat who carry the fight to America's enemies – won't go across the street without the Corpsman.

They have their reasons. Believe it.

That's the Hospital Corpsman, a Navy hand who keeps Marines with wounds alive until help arrives in the form of a dust-off chopper headed for the MASH unit or batallion aid station. He has an important place in the scheme of any cassus belli in which Uncle Sam finds himself embroiled.

That's why it hit the mind's eye like a thunderclap when Blue Star Mom Mary Duty said Billy Joe Shaver will play the Moonlight Music Festival for returning Iraq and Afghanistan War vets over Memorial Day weekend.

Mr. Shaver, author of “Fast Train to Georgia,” “Tramp On Your Street,” and “Honky Tonk Heros,” was a Hospital Corpsman during his Navy enlistment long, long ago.

Caleb Duty, a two-tour veteran fresh from the fight, tried to organize the event his family's property near Robinson, but neighbors objected so strenusously that city officials pre-empted the plan due to safety concerns.

What to do?

Mrs. Duty, an activist who believes “The war isn't over until everyone is home and everyone is helped with his wounds,” had no clue, nor did her son, Caleb, who works at the family business, Papa Rollo's Pizza on Waco's Valley Mills Dr.

She is a Blue Star Mother, one of the lucky ladies whose son came home from the wars in answer to her fervent prayers. She knows, as does her son, that a lot of the veterans don't have a family to whom they may return. She also knows that most of them are very resistant to asking for help from such service organizations as the VFW or American Legion, whose membership is much older than they are.

The Veterans Administration with its myriad rules and regulations can sometimes look like and become an abstruse and impenetrable maze.

But a funny thing happened when Bosque County Judge Cole Word fielded a phone call from a Vietnam Veteran he's known all his life.

“He called mad enough to fight,” said Judge Word, recalling his conversation with Ronnie Ogle. “Have you been reading about this?” Mr. Ogle asked the Judge.

That's when the wheels started turning.

“We've been welcomed with open arms,” Caleb Duty said of his experience with officials in Meridian. There are no stumbling blocks.

It takes far more than 60 days to book the type of bands the attraction will use. Billy Joe Shaver has already agreed to play the event. Others are working with their booking agents. PFG Foods and Ben E. Keith, a Budweiser Distributor, are negotiating to sponsor the event.

Regional bands will play in the Barbecue Cook-Off pavilion during the day. Headliner acts will play on a stage situated in the midst of RV camping spots, tent and ground camping accomodations in the evening hours.

The goal?

Raise some funds to help homeless vets, men with no family or friends to help them make a smooth transition back to civilian life, find their way to employment, good health, and a happy life.

This old pasture hard by the Bosque River, just down the hill from the Courthouse Square, has seen many a herd of cattle ford there and go on to the rail head in Cowtown or the pastures of Montana.

It will host yet another gathering, this one a gathering of warriors who hunger to come home.

Said the loving mother of the Marine who is home from his war, "If they can have a revolution in Egypt and Syria and it started on Facebook - we can have one right here, too. Because that's what this is - a revolution."

1 comment:

  1. Great job, Jim. Thanks. We will keep you posted on the festival. By the way, you were online before it made the news. Good job. You are lightnin'fast!