This week we finished the Military Tribute Tour. We went back to Kuwait for 3 shows, and then did our last show on the tour in Djibouti. It was a bittersweet experience having it come to an end, but it made such an impact on me.
It was interesting to me as this was my first time coming back performing with the title “David Archuleta” and having to embrace that since my mission. I wasn’t sure how I was going to feel, but there was a different motivating factor this time, which was that this tour was all about giving tribute to the troops. We flew out to these countries; to these military bases on our own time and without getting paid anything. We came out to get to know them, and express our gratitude for them with what God gave us in our abilities and talents.
I would divide the focuses on this tour into 2 different categories: 1st, Getting to know who these men and women were and 2nd, Getting to know what they do.
Traveling to the different bases in each country gave us a realistic view of what is going on and the work that these troops do. They showed us everything from the aircrafts and vehicles to the loading areas and offices; from the chow halls where they eat to the living quarters— whether they were buildings, CLU’s (containerized living units), or tents. We saw all of the different parts it takes to put it all together, and all of the people it took with different skills.
My favorite part of these tours and staying on these bases was getting to meet these servicemen and women and hear their stories. One of them I met in Camp Patriot in Kuwait. She was a Captain, and had an 11 month-old daughter, but she had been away from her for the last several months. On top of that, her husband was also deployed in another camp in Kuwait, so neither of them are able to be there with their new daughter to watch her grow during these first months of her life. The daughter stayed with grandparents in the meantime.
I was impressed to hear stories similar to this time and time again. A lot of times we have stereotypes for these men and women of what kind of lifestyle they come from, what matters to them, and how normal they really are. I met parents, grandparents, people my age and even younger than me everywhere. They all were far away from family and loved ones, and while they are fulfilling to their amazing duty to serve our country it still is no easy task to be away from family and loved ones in tough circumstances that are not your typical home environment. I jumped at the chance to listen to them, and simply be around them. If there was nothing else I could give to them, at least I could give them my time— there is nothing more valuable to me than that, and so I am glad that I could give even a little bit of time to be with them and get to know who they are and what they do.
At the end of the trip we were able to go to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. We did a faith-based meeting (also known as a fireside) with stories and music similar to what we were doing on the tour, only more faith-focused. I really loved getting to do these firesides throughout our trip when time permitted, and to feel the hearts and spirits of these strong-spirited youth in these parts of the world.
After this fireside we went out to an Ethiopian restaurant where they had traditional Ethiopian dancers and an Ethiopian band. It was awesome! A few people in the restaurant recognized me, along with a worker, and the next thing I know the owner comes up to ask if I would sing for everyone there. At first I felt awkward, but in the end I thought “eh, why not?” and got up to sing 2 songs: “Stand By Me” and “Everybody Hurts” which I had been singing during the military tour. It was quite the experience being backed up by an Ethiopian band along with my voice coach, Dean Kaelin who was on the tour with us. Good times!
It’s been unforgettable. I am taking so many memories with me from these past few weeks. I just want to thank again these men and women in the military for serving and doing what they do. I am so grateful that they took us in and allowed us to experience a little bit of their experiences. It means so much to me, and to everyone on our tour. We appreciate you and your time you shared with us. Military Tribute Tour accomplished!
Well that’s a wrap for this blog. Thanks for reading!