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Liberty celebrates Fourth with soldiers
Ashanti, Trace Adkins boost morale
trace adkins
Trace Adkins sings during Friday night's concert. - photo by Photo by Lauren Hunsberger
As the sun set on Fort Stewart’s 4th of July celebration, providing relief from the heat, soldiers and their families flocked to the stage on Donovan Field where two national music acts rocked the crowd well into the evening.
Rhythm and blues sensation Ashanti took the stage first, revving up the audience with her energetic performance and providing a short break from daily duties for countless soldiers.
Soldier Anzren Johnson, whose husband also serves in the Army, said she was thrilled to be spending her holiday enjoying the festivities on post.  
“It’s a good opportunity right before you deploy to allow the soldiers to let their hair down, even if just for a moment,” Johnson said. “It allows us to focus on something else right before we deploy. So I think it was a great opportunity and really fun.”
After Ashanti’s set, country superstar Trace Adkins kicked off his portion of the show with his songs “I Got My Game On,” and “Swing.”
Adkins, who previously has voiced support for the military and its missions, already has performed at a few other installations this year and dozens in the past several years. It’s a tradition he said he will continue for as a long as it’s necessary.
“It’s important for me personally just to be able to say ‘thank you’ to the folks who are doing the heavy lifting,” Adkins said. “As long as there are people serving on my behalf, it’s my way of showing appreciation.”
Plus, he said the crowds are like no other.
“It’s the most appreciative audience you’ll ever perform for, and I always jump at the chance to do it.”
Adkins took a moment before his performance to offer encouragement for troops gearing up for deployment.
“We haven’t forgotten why they’re there and what they’re doing and what they’re mission is. It’s noble and I think it’s worthy of their efforts. I stand firmly behind them,” he said. “I’m not one of those people who say I support the troops, but …” his voice trailed off. “There is no qualification for my support. I support the troops, period.”
As for advice, “Keep your powder dry,” he said.
Longtime Adkins fan Mackie Cucolo, daughter of Maj. Gen. Tony Cucolo, danced and sang along with the crowd throughout the show. Cucolo, who is a recent graduate of the University of Texas, said she particularly likes Adkins’ sense of humor but also respects his and Ashanti’s desire to boost morale.
“It’s exciting and it’s really nice that these guys would come out here to do that,” she said.
The concert was followed with a fireworks show in honor of the troops.

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