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Toby Keith and Rodney Atkins Salute the Troops This Veterans Day Weekend

Image courtesy of Greg Watermann (via ABC News Radio)
Image courtesy of Greg Watermann (via ABC News Radio)

This Veteran's Day weekend, we remember the troops who have served to protect the United States. No format of music consistently honors those who serve as much as country music, and that's evident with stars like Toby Keith and Rodney Atkins who regularly perform for the troops overseas.

Toby has played nearly 200 shows for the troops overseas since he started his yearly tours with the U.S.O. more than a decade ago. He began doing the tours in honor of his veteran father.

Says Toby, "I just kind of went and I got there and saw the void that was there and the U.S.O. was like, 'Man, any time you want to come back, we'll take you.'"

Toby has been back every year since and often goes out to entertain troops on very remote bases. Even seeing a helicopter is a big deal to these troops who may be deployed out there for 18 months.

"It's like, 'Something's coming out here to see us.'" Toby says. "There may be 25 guys out in the middle of nowhere."

Toby plans to continue making the trips as long as he can, and he says, "I'm honored to do it. It's great boys and girls, and thank God we have 'em over there."

Rodney Atkins can speak firsthand to the intense work the troops put in every day to defend America's freedom. Looking back on one of his tours entertaining the troops in Afghanistan, Rodney recalls getting up in the middle of the night and seeing a soldier doing intense physical training in the freezing rain.

Rodney says, "He was carrying sandbags, like 200 pound sandbags and throwing them down and then he’d pick them back up in the freezing rain.  He’d walk twenty five yards, whatever, throw it down, pick it back up. "

Rodney walked over to the soldier and asked him if he had been ordered to do this training. The soldier told him no one ordered him to get up at 3 a.m.

Rodney recalls him saying, "I’m doing this because I never know when I’m gonna have to carry one of my brothers or sisters back through the gates of hell.'"

When he heard that, Rodney realized he had nothing to complain about at all in his life. He says, "It’s just amazing what they go through.  Keep the men and women in your prayers."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

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