Brantley Gilbert paid a humbling homage to the five courageous fallen military members Wednesday, September 16, during CHATTANOOGA UNITE: A TRIBUTE ON THE RIVER. More than 80,000 people flocked to the riverfront for the event including the families of U.S. Marine Gunnery Sgt. Thomas Sullivan, U.S Marine Staff Sgt. David Wyatt, U.S. Marine Sgt. Carson Holmquist, U.S. Marine Lance Corporal Skip Wells and U.S. Navy Petty Officer Randall Smith.
The multi-platinum selling singer/songwriter closed the day-long event with #1 hits like “Country Must Be Country Wide”, 2X Platinum “Bottoms Up” and Gold-certified “One Hell of an Amen”. Trace Adkins, Colt Ford and Aaron Lewis joined Brantley on the esteemed Riverbend barge stage to share their appreciation for those who risk their well being every day to protect our freedoms.
An avid supporter of the military, Brantley felt a call to action when he heard the news of the tragic July 16 shooting. Last month, he announced the special concert on-air with local radio station WUSY.
“We all know why we’re here. We’re here to mourn and we’re here to grieve but we’re also here to celebrate the lives and the legacies of those we lost,” Brantley began from the two-story tall Riverbend stage. “We can’t bring your husbands, brothers or sons back, but hopefully we can make you smile tonight,” directing his thank you to the families of the fallen soldiers.
The star-studded tribute kicked off with an Armed Forces parade, memorial ceremony and remembrance followed by a Blue Angels flyover. Chattanooga native, Samuel L. Jackson emceed the event, which included additional performances by Harry Connick, Jr. and Jamey Johnson.
Donations from the free event continue to roll in, tallying over the initial $230,000 presented to The National Compassion Fund yesterday. The families of the five fallen soldiers will benefit from the Chattanooga Unite funds raised. Donations are still being taken via chattanoogaunite.org.