I sure hope you don't think this is cheesy or goofy but during the early days of the COVID-19 self-quarantine, I thought the VMM should make a statement to the community about how much we care about the people of Laurel and Jones County. So, I began working on this video...I chose a song very near and dear to my heart...and before I could complete it, the lead singer of the song I had chosen passed away.
His name was Bill Withers. I'm sure there are probably as many people who knew who he was as those that didn't, but I'll bet that even if you didn't recognize his name, you had heard his music before and just didn't know it. I grew up listening to his wonderful songs and was heart-broken when he passed away. It seemed to make this video more special to me, but what I learned while doing a little research just blew me away.
I didn't know this, but Mr. Bill Withers wasn't just a very successful musician...Although, he WAS that. He was nominated 4 times and won 3 Grammy Awards, not to mention the millions of albums he sold. He is a member of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, the Songwriters Hall of Fame, & the West Virginia Music Hall of Fame. WHEW!!! But this isn't the surprise I discovered....
Bill Withers was a VETERAN of the US Navy. He joined at the age of 17 and his service lasted for 9 years. While in the service, he served as an aircraft mechanic, but began to dabble in singing and song writing and after his discharge, moved to Los Angeles to begin his music career. Loved by millions and respected by all those who knew him personally, his legacy is secured in the music world. What's so incredible about his military story is that, prior to his death, he had been chosen by the US NAVY MEMORIAL board to receive the Lone Sailor Award. This award is bestowed on veterans of sea service that excelled in their respective careers during or after their service. Famous recipients of the award include former presidents Teddy Roosevelt, Ronald Reagan, and John Kennedy, as well as John Wayne, Bob Hope, and Arnold Palmer. Mighty prestigious company...in my humble opinion!
Oh yes! Our video...Sort of forgot to talk about that. This little video is just an attempt to share some love and support for the people of Laurel and Jones County. The year 2020 has been tough so far, and we are proud to say that a US Navy veteran wants to remind us all that you can always "Lean on Me"!
HOST & AUTHOR
Jeff Weber is the PR/Media Director of the VMM. He is a retired history teacher and the son of a career U.S. Army officer/ Vietnam War veteran and has served as a VMM volunteer for over 5 years.