The Voice of America

Lee Greenwood entertains at Berkeley County Youth Fair

Lee Greenwood entertains at Berkeley County Youth Fair

August 10, 2006|by DAVE McMILLION

MARTINSBURG, W.VA. - Martinsburg resident Ann Nicholson thinks the possibility of stronger America lives in the words of singer Lee Greenwood.

Greenwood, who performed Wednesday night at the Berkeley County Youth Fair, is often identified as the "ultimate name that comes to mind" when patriotism is mentioned in the entertainment industry.

After years of working to gain recognition in the music industry, one song - "God Bless the USA" - put Greenwood in a niche in pop culture that seems to be reserved for him alone, according to his Web site.

Besides creating a name for Greenwood, "God Bless the USA" is a song that is often played at special events locally.


Greenwood gave an energetic show, waving his hands together as encouragement for people to clap, and singing his repertoire of songs.

Greenwood's appearance at the fair attracted hundreds of local people, like Nicholson, who identify with his words.

Nicholson was wearing camouflage pants and a camouflage hat, which bore pins representing the 82nd Airborne.

Nicholson said one of her friends was a member of the military unit.

When Nicholson said she heard Greenwood was coming to the fair, she took off from work and came to the fair's outdoor stage at 4 p.m. Wednesday so she could have a front-row seat.

"Everybody should take pride in that song," said Nicholson, referring to "God Bless the USA."

"If everyone would take that song to heart, we would have a lot stronger America here," Nicholson said.

Pat Price, a volunteer at the fair, said fair organizers started getting calls in May about Greenwood's show when word began to spread about his appearance. That is a much earlier response than most shows for the fair, said Price, of Martinsburg.

"I think it is the greatest thing that has happened to Martinsburg," Price said.

Greenwood's music career had humble beginnings, and he started working on his musical talent in junior high school, according to his Web site. He learned to play many instruments by age 14 and worked his way up through the ranks in the business, including performances in Las Vegas lounges.

After the Gulf War in 1991, Greenwood was one of the most in-demand performers, the Web site said.

Greenwood talked about topics between his songs, such as his family life. Greenwood said he and his wife read to their children at night and "we always say our prayers. We always pray for the military," Greenwood said.

Wednesday's show was filled with patriotism.

Before Greenwood's show, two members of a local West Virginia Air National Guard unit were honored for their service in Iraq.

Brad Runkles and Derek J. Brown, members of the 167th Airlift Wing, received Purple Hearts after they suffered injuries when the vehicle in which they were riding came in contact with an improvised explosive device in June 2004 in Iraq.

They were introduced as "true American heroes" on stage by WAYZ radio disc jockey Bob Steele.

"This is what it's all about, ladies and gentlemen," Steele told the crowd.

Today's schedule

9 a.m. - Horse show, horse arena

9 a.m. - Dairy judging, indoor arena

Noon - Indoor exhibits open, exhibit building

1 p.m. - Goat judging, indoor arena

4 p.m. - Milking parlor opens, barn area

5 p.m. - Commercial exhibits open, commercial building

5 p.m. - Sight Mobile, commercial exhibit area

6 p.m. - Watermelon-eating contest, indoor arena

6 p.m. - Carnival opens

6:30 p.m. - Kiddie pedal pull, indoor arena

8 p.m. - Bull riding, track area

11 p.m. - Fair closes

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