Jerrod Niemann has been an outspoken supporter of the military for years, performing on USO Tours whenever his schedule allows. The singer recently sat down with trio Runaway June, as part of their#OfftheRoad With Runaway June series, to discuss why he finds it so important to keep performing for the troops serving overseas.
"There are makeshift stages that they throw together," Niemann explained. "[We play] several in one day. We did as many bases as we could in an area, unless we were traveling. But I'll tell you what – and you know this – you can love and respect our military, 100 percent. But when you get out there, and you're just a fly on the wall, you can see just a glimpse of them decked out and doing their thing, it adds such a crazy layer. Because I've noticed, at the end of the trips, it's kind of emotional at the very end, because you realize they're all still there."
Niemann spent last Christmas performing overseas for the troops, which is something he will never forget.
"Living in such a divided country, it was truly ironic to be in Iraq on Christmas night, and looking across at our whole room full of our brave Americans," Niemann recalled. "Men and women from every spectrum, and every ethnicity that this earth has ever produced."
"I saw one consistency, and that was our American flag right here," Niemann continued, pointing to a tattoo on his left arm. "I thought, 'Man, I wish every civilian could see the unity right here in this room. And then you start to see these men and women show you beautiful memories that you know they're missing."
The experience of spending the holidays with those who didn't have the chance to go home forever changed Niemann's life.
"It was incredible," Niemann told PopCulture.com. "It was, in its own way, obviously a life-changing experience. I think that's the most fascinating thing about our military, is we all know they're willing to take the ultimate sacrifice and lay their lives down for us, but it's like, 'What if you're overseas and your child who has cancer is at St. Jude [Children's Hospital]'? Or you missed the first steps, or your parents passing away, or dance recitals, their first football game, whatever it might be.
"There's so many freedoms that we do kind of take for granted, and they give us that right to take it for granted," he continued. "For me, it's just those moments of reality, really."0comments
Niemann released a song called "Oh Glory," in honor of the sacrifices those in the Armed Forces make. Download the song on iTunes.
Photo Credit: Getty images/Harmony Gerber