Photo Flash: Tenor Anthony Kearns Pays Tribute to Veterans at Capitol Hill Club
On Tuesday, May 19, 2015, renowned tenor Anthony Kearns headlined the Fourth Annual Memorial Day Kick-off and Tribute to Veterans at The Capitol Hill Club next to the U.S. Capitol. Check out photos from the event below!
The sold-out event featured CBS' Chief White House Correspondent Major Garrett as the Master of Ceremonies and a special performance by Mr. Kearns, a member of The Irish Tenors, who also performed as a solo guest artist in the 2014 Memorial Day Concert in Washington, D.C.
Kearns said he was honored to return to the nation's capital to perform for such a distinguished audience in advance of Memorial Day -- "a day of remembrance for those who have fallen in defense of freedom around the world."
The event benefited K9s For Warriors, a 501(c)(3) organization dedicated to providing service canines to warriors suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disability, traumatic brain injury and/or trauma as a result of military service post 9/11.
Said event organizer Kirsten Fedewa, "We were honored to have a great group of people including Major Garrett and the talented Anthony Kearns, and many brave American heroes, many members of Congress. The event also benefited a great cause -- bringing humans and animals together for healing."
In addition to Kearns, the star-studded event included dozens of members of Congress, senior staff, decorated military leaders, and media.
Speakers included Brigadier General Steve Ritchie, USAF Retired, the Air Force's only fighter pilot ace since Korea; Rep Charlie Rangel, the second most senior member of the U.S. House of Representatives and a Korean War veteran; Rep. Martha McSally, the nation's first female combat pilot; Rep. Ryan Zinke, the first Navy seal elected to Congress, and Rep. Mike Coffman, a distinguished veteran who served in the Persian Gulf War and in the Iraq War.
Guests also heard from Major Jason Haag, USMC Ret., who appeared with his service dog Axel, to discuss his work with K9s For Warriors.
General Ritchie is the only American pilot in history to down five enemy MiG-21s. In Vietnam, Ritchie's 339 missions and 800 combat hours resulted in his receiving nearly every award the Air Force offers. The day after the event, on May 20, 2015, Gen. Ritchie and other ace pilots from World War II received the Congressional Gold Medal, an award bestowed by the United States Congress. The Congressional Gold Medal and the Presidential Medal of Freedom are the highest civilian awards in the United States.
Mr. Garrett introduced each speaker with flair and appreciation for his or her service to our country. Among those recognized by Major Garrett was Captain Jas Booth, an Army veteran who has devoted herself to helping over 350 female veterans in 15 states to avoid homelessness
The evening was concluded with a spectacular performance by Mr. Kearns. The famous Irish Tenor opened the program by singing the National Anthem, which Major Garrett called a "roof-shaking" experience.
Kearns, accompanied by well-known pianist Patrick Healy, sang a selection of songs, including the much-anticipated "O'' America." -- written by Brendan Graham. Mr. Kearns previously performed "O''America" with the U.S. Air Force Band. Kearns debuted the song in March 2013 as the guest of Speaker John Boehner for President Barack Obama, foreign dignitaries, and 100 bipartisan members of Congress at the Friends of Ireland lunch in 2013.
The set was concluded with "God Bless America," led by Mr. Kearns, who invited the whole audience to sing.
The event also features a Markers Mark bourbon tasting, premium wines and beer, and light hors d'oeuvres. Sponsors included The Congressional Institute, Cyber Defense Magazine, The Student Veterans of America, The American Veterans Center, and others.
Photo credit: Kirsten Fedewa & Associates, LLC
Anthony Kearns, Patrick Healy
Rep. Charlie Rangel (NY), Rep. Mike Coffman, Rep. Ryan Zinke
Rep. Sam Graves, Melissa DeVriese
General Steve Ritchie (right), with wife Mariana, and son Matt Ritchie
Rep. Mike Coffman (right), with Rep. Ryan Zinke (left)
Gen. Steve Ritchie, Mariana Ritchie, Kirsten Fedewa, Anthony Kearns