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Toby Keith: Celebs Won’t Do USO Tours - ‘Too Lazy, Too Afraid, or Too Politically Connected’

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Rich movie stars, multimillionaire pop icons, sports heroes - all have the means to go anywhere in the world at a moment’s notice, and do. They show up at French movie premiers, parties in the Hamptons, and yachts at exotic locales.

So why can’t most of them appear at a USO show to entertain America’s troops?

According to country star Toby Keith, who entertains the troops every year, celebrities are “too lazy, too afraid, or too politically connected” to touch down with the armed forces. 

Keith made his observation in a recent interview in the Military Times:

Q. You’ve said that it’s crucial to ­support our service members no ­matter the politics. Why is ­supporting our troops so important to you?

My dad would never let any solicitors in our house. He had a poor-boy flag on his farm: It was just a piece of pipe with a flag on it; you couldn’t raise or lower it. You had to get a forklift to go up and change the flag or you had to take the pole down — it didn’t have a rope on it. He’d fly that thing 365.

If the solicitors came by, knocked on his door, he wouldn’t let them in. But as soon as the veterans’ organizations would come by he’d bring them in and give them coffee and they’d talk about his disability and his military discipline. It was during the Korean War that he lost his eye. He came back and instilled in his children that the vets are very important to us and you had to respect them.

He kept asking me to go on a USO tour and I said, “Dad, I’m doing a 150 shows a year. I don’t have time to go all the way over there right now.” And he said, “Find time.”

The year I agreed to do it he got killed in a car wreck. I went for him.

When I got over there, I saw the void. It wasn’t like when Bob Hope was doing it and everybody was cool with it. Now, there’s three reasons: They’re either too lazy, too afraid, or too politically connected. My agent became a USO board member the next year, and we started working our butts off to get people over there. We realized how difficult it was.

In fact, my agent called one big act and said, ’Why don’t you go over to Baghdad to the Green Zone to do a show or two?” And he said, “No, we’ll just let Toby do that.” I said, “Toby can’t do it all.” But I did say, well, I’ll give two weeks a year; and I did it for 11 years. I did somewhere between 220-240 shows; a week in each desert.

 

 

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