By SARAH SHMERLING | Editor-in-Chief
In observance of Patriot Day 2020, the American Legion Ronald Reagan-Palisades Post 283 teamed up with the Veterans National Entertainment Workshop to honor those on the frontlines of the pandemic with a “Salute to First Responders” virtual concert on Friday, September 11.
The hour and 16-minute show featured U.S. military veterans and active duty personnel, first responders, and essential workers, who performed prerecorded original and popular songs.
Host BJ Lange, U.S. Air Force Reserve Medic and member of Hollywood American Legion Post 43, opened the show with a note of gratitude.
“As a retired U.S. Air Force Reserve Medic, I am profoundly grateful for all of the first responders out there and on this Patriot Day, the American Legion Palisades Post 283 would like to honor all those people out there on the frontlines during this worldwide pandemic, including doctors, nurses, paramedics, health care workers, police, firefighters, essential workers, active guard and reserve military,” Lange shared. “Everyone who is working day and night keeping our country running and our community safe.”
The concert featured a range of local officials and celebrities who all checked in to thank first responders.
Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti explained that the pandemic has been a time of sacrifice, a time when everyone has been tried and tested: “But it has also been a moment of extraordinary service. In every corner of our city, Angelenos have stepped up to the challenge, supported each other and remained committed to what matters most.”
He went on to thank doctors, essential workers and all of those who have shown up to work every day—despite the anxiety of the pandemic.
“We see you and we love you and we are grateful for you,” Garcetti said. “So as a proud member of the American Legion and on behalf of four million Angeleno souls, I thank you for your service and sacrifice and standing with us when we’ve needed you and we will continue to stand with you, today and every day.”
The National Anthem was performed by Staff Sergeant Quartrail Tucker, U.S. Army, followed by Pacific Palisades-based Scouts BSA Troops 223 leading the Pledge of Allegiance from the recently completed Veterans’ Gardens at Palisades Recreation Center.
Other officials to offer their thanks in the video include Alex Padilla, Secretary of State of California; Rudy Ortega Jr., Fernandeño Tataviam Tribal President, and Mark Villasenor, Fernandeño Tataviam Vice President; and Los Angeles County Supervisor Hilda Solis. Celebrity appearances included Loretta Swit and Rich Little.
Musical performances, which were contributed from around the country, included a song by Missouri-based Boxcar, a cover of Sia’s “Save My Life” performed by Theresa Bowman, U.S. Air Force veteran, and a piece by the National Virtual Medical Orchestra, which is made up of healthcare professionals and support staff.
The concert ended with a message of thanks from Palisadian Jimmy Dunne, a composer, writer and musician, who explained his relationship with music.
“It’s been part of my life since I was a little kid,” Dunne shared. “I didn’t really come from a musical family but it was something that was just a part of my life and I started writing songs in grammar school and haven’t stopped.”
His song, with assistance from Amanda McBroom, “America (Lives In Me),” rounded out the show, with a montage of photos.
Lange signed off the concert, reiterating a message of gratitude.
“A big thank you and round of applause for all of our veterans, first responders and officials who joined us here today,” he concluded. “To all of our first responders and essential workers that are out there, thank you for your service, you inspire us, you give us hope and you are our heroes.”
The show remains available for anyone to watch at alpost283.com/salute-to-first-responders.
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