Amber and Will Patrick, both 24 and serving in the National Guard, sat at one of the many tables which dotted the lawn of Villa di Felicita on Saturday as the fourth annual Country for our Country benefit concert got underway.
“My dad served in Vietnam, and I always wanted to do the same thing,” Patrick said. The Patricks, one of many military members who were in uniform for the concert, said they were “grateful and honored” to be there.
As he introduced country musician Derek Sholl and his band, Tyler Ford’s David Irwin, who was the lead sponsor for the event, told the crowd that the purpose of the event was to “raise a little money. We’re going to put some kids through college and help reintegrate some soldiers back into society.”
Col. Rick Noriega, who served in Afghanistan for 14 months in 2005, told the crowd he carried a copy of Psalm 91, which he called the soldier’s prayer.
“It basically says that if you put your trust in God, nothing will happen to you,” he said.
Noriega, a former Texas state representative who lives in Houston, said he and his wife Melissa drove up for the event. When Noriega was deployed to Afghanistan, his wife served in his place until he could return.
The Country for Our Country concert featured Rodney Atkins, recipient of the Academy of Country Music’s Top New Male Vocalist in 2006. He has multiple awards and multiple No. 1 hits including “If You’re Going through Hell (Before the Devil Even Knows)” and “It’s America.” The Saturday concert also included Derek Sholl and Heidi Newfield, as well as newcomers Wayland Hicks and The Backroad Travelers, Jaida Dreyer and Storme Warren.
The event included a silent and live auction and food and drinks. Mrs. Pennington said Thursday that she expected about 1,500 people to attend the Saturday concert.