“I told the guys, ‘Anyone that doesn’t want to go doesn’t have to, but would you like to go to Iraq and entertain the troops?’ Everybody wanted to go. There wehttps://starsforstripes.com/charlie-daniels-and-his-band-went-to-kyrgyzstanuzbekistan-afghanistan-kuwait-and-iraq-to-perform-for-the-troops-in-april/re people that wanted to go, but we just didn’t have the room.”  – Charlie Daniels




PHOTOS (Courtesy of Randy Harris)

Charlie Daniels Performs 9 Shows for more than 15,000 Soldiers – Encore Access

DAY ONE & TWO, APRIL 5 & 6: Today we depart from Nashville to Kyrgyzstan on a C-40 Private Jet – courtesy of the Tennessee National Guard.  There are only 3 C-40’s and now they are building one more.  It is a “flying office in the sky”.  Approximately 40 first class seats – and there are only 18 of us from Nashville and we pick up 4 more passengers (USAREUR) in Ireland.  The flight crew was from Andrews AFB in D.C. Charlie Daniels Band is going over to entertain our troops.  First top will be Manas AB in Bishkek, Kyrgystan.  We had planned to stay at the Hyatt Hotel, but there was a political coupe a few weeks ago and the government was overthrown.  We had to cancel our hotel reservations and stay in tents on base.  We are traveling with a General and 3 other members of the Tennessee National Guard and will pick up a General and 3 members of USARUER when we stop in Shannon, Ireland to refuel. Met at the TNG air terminal for a 10 am departure.  The flight crew let me sit in the jump seat in the cockpit for the take off and the entire flight to DC.  Super nice group of guys flying us, but we “lose” them in DC and pick up a different crew.  Pilot was Darrell – pilot for American Airlines who had been called back to active duty and Dave – pilot for United who was called back to active duty.  Really enjoyed chatting with them on the flight up.  Darrell is married with SIX children and a “stay at home wife”…imagine that!  Dave is divorced with two girls.  It was much less stressful to be able to sit up there and actually ask questions that sitting in the back of the plane being struck by lightning!  They have Navy Blue flight suits.  I have the desert brown and green, so I’m working them to get a Navy Blue one! Landed at Andrews and had about an hour on the ground to  re-fuel and switch out our flight crew.  Got another great group of guys and “girl” for the long flights over.  They will sit on the ground in Cyprus while we visit various countries via military C-130’s.  Then will come back to pick us up for the flight home. This flight crew is: Beth Drew Scott Mike Manny Kerry Larry Gary Van

Can you believe I remembered all the names?  Chely will be SO proud of me.  She is my inspiration to try and remember everyone’s name.    We have a 6 ½ hour flight to Shannon, Ireland which means we will land there at 1:30 AM on the 6th.  Stay on the ground for about 1 ½ hours to refuel and then a 7 ½ hour flight to Kyrgyzstan.  Wouldn’t you just know that Kyrgyzstan JUST lifted their travel advisory.  I think we’re going to call the Hyatt from Ireland and see if we can get our rooms back! Thought that we were not going to be able to land in Kyrgyzstan because it was snowing and there was freezing fog with limited visibility.  But, our wonderful new flight crew got us on the ground exactly on time.  Boy, we hate to trade this nice plane in for the choppers and C-130’s!  We are all lodged in DV tents – I’m in exactly the same bed that I stayed in last November when I was here!   Charlie has a room that is a little nicer with a bathroom in it but the Generals are bunking with us.  Bebe had warned me before we left the U.S. that she’s not “much on camping” and was hoping we wouldn’t have to stay in tents.  J We got unloaded and Bebe and I “hiked” up to the building where the showers and latrines are located.   Took our showers and started to leave the room only to find that there is a “number” lock on the door!  Now, why in the world would you have to punch in a code to get OUT of the bathroom but don’t have to punch in one to get in?   We couldn’t get out, so we started fumbling with the lock and yelling and someone finally came and let us out.  Went to the DFAC to have dinner and sat with some really sweet young soldiers – Jason from Kansas City and David from Seattle (see, Chely, I REALLY am trying!).  Charlie was not supposed to perform here but he decided to do a 30 minute acoustic set – which turned into an hour set.  He was going to wait until tomorrow to sign autographs but ended up signing for 2 hours after the show.  I cannot begin to tell you how packed the room was or how excited these men and women were to have him there.  So many of the very young soldiers knew ALL the words to his songs.   When he took the stage and I saw the faces of the men and women, my heart just filled to overflowing.  It’s impossible to describe the emotion that we experience on these tours.  I’m now at the Coffee Shop (where I spent HOURS last November) answering my 100+ emails from yesterday.  We have some confusion about tomorrow’s flights.  We were supposed to leave early for the 2 hour C-130 ride from Kyrgyzstan to Bagram, Afghanistan.  BUT, the runways are being repaired in Bagram and we can’t depart until 3:30 pm.  Have to move our show time there from 6 pm to 8 pm.   More tomorrow…  Jude

DAY THREE – APRIL 7TH: I am so tired, I can’t even remember everything that happened today! Right before I departed Nashville, I decided to buy a new pair of Wellington’s to have for the cold weather in Kyrgyzstan.  Rushed to the mall and found exactly what I was looking for.  My normal size felt a little too tight, so I opted for the “looser” half size up.  Wore them on the flight over but was disappointed because they felt so “uncomfortable”.  Then I was walking through the terminal in Ireland and it felt like the inside of the shoe had come loose.  I was really ticked off and pulled the shoe off to investigate.  Learned that there were PLASTIC inserts in the top of each shoe for “protectors” that should have been removed before I wore them. Now, after taking these out, the shoes are way too big.  I’m having to wear 2 pair of socks just to keep them on.  Lindsey – you get new shoes when I come home.  Got 4 hours sleep and got up and walked down to the gym.  So many flights have been cancelled due to weather, that they had to convert the “cardio” side of the gym to sleeping quarters.  So, I got to work out with free weights.   Took my shower and figured out the “lock” on the inside of the bathroom.  There is an “outside” entrance to the shower where you don’t have to walk down the hall to the offices.  The lock on the inside is to keep the “locals” from wandering around inside the office building! After the shower, we went with Charlie to sign some flags and autographs for various groups on the base, including the security forces protecting the entrances.  Grabbed some sandwiches from Subway and headed to the C-130.  We were told that the plane MIGHT not be able to land in Bagram, Afghanistan because there was a sand storm and very high winds.  Bagram is where the Chinook went down last night.  We would either go back to Kyrgyzstan or divert to Uzbekistan.  Our flight crew was out of Alaska and very nice but the plane was so crowded.  We had 17 soldiers on with us trying to get to Bagram, too.  And, I sat on the wrong side – couldn’t stretch my legs out and my butt was FREEZING the entire way….literally…just my butt, nothing else.  Charlie sat up on the flight deck the entire time which was great for him.  We flew the 2 hours to Bagram and were unable to land.  We diverted to Uzbekistan so we could give those troops a surprise performance!  The folks on the ground thought someone was playing an “April’s Fool” joke on them.  They couldn’t believe Charlie Daniels was coming to their base.  And, they had to deal with housing 23 of us PLUS the 17 soldiers.  But, they rose to the occasion and did a great job making arrangements for us.  We were able to set up in one hour and gave them a show from 8-9 pm.  Charlie signed autographs for a couple of hours and then everyone, except me, went to bed.  It’s about 2 am again and I am definitely headed to bed.  We don’t think we can fly until 7 pm tomorrow night.  We have to stop in Bagram and pick up a sound tech and all our production that we rented from Kuwait!  It has been there for 2 days waiting on us.  Plus, we feel so badly that Bagram didn’t get a show, SOOOOO….the General has arranged for us to use the BACK of another C-130 for an acoustic show while ours is being refueled.  Won’t have any mics or amps or anything else, but we’ve pulled it off for 2 nights and I’m sure we can do it again.  Our drummer has been using a metal garbage can for drums!  Troops still love it.  Won’t be able to send email from this computer until I arrive Kuwait.  GOODNIGHT! Jude

DAY FOUR – APRIL 8TH I stayed up until 2:30 am working on email because I thought I could sleep late today.  We couldn’t get a flight out of Uzbekistan until 7:00 pm and would not arrive Kuwait until around 3 am the following day – which certainly wasn’t great, but the only way we could get there.  We are pretty much at the “mercy” of the military and have to “hitch” rides when there is a crew and plane going the way we need to go.  These guys have much more important things to do than haul around entertainers.  I had just gotten in my bunk when I thought I heard someone knocking on the door.  I ignored it thinking no one would be knocking at 3 am.  It continued.  I got up and a soldier was standing there apologizing.  Said he just got word that we could get out on an early morning flight but he would need everyone’s passport by 6:30 am and luggage out by 7:30 am.  He wanted me to make the decision but I first had to know if the new flight would be going through Bagram, Afghanistan because we had all our production equipment and a sound tech from Kuwait stranded on the ground there without us.  He confirmed that we would make a stop in Bagram to pick him and the equipment up.  So, I got about 2 hours of sleep before having to get up to round up everyone else who all thought we had a full day off.  Had breakfast with two really neat guys.  One of them asked me “why I did this”.  My response was, “Why do you do this?  Why do you risk your life for someone you’ve never met?  You enable me and other Americans to live the wonderful lifestyles we enjoy and I’m not doing anything that every American shouldn’t be doing” Got on our C-130 with a great flight crew.  Only had a few other people on the flight with us to Bagram and it was only about a 1 hour and 15 minute flight. When we landed, there was a huge dust storm taking place and the wind was still blowing really hard.  We went into the Pat Tillman Center that just opened about 3 days ago.  It’s a beautiful facility for our troops.  The NFL donated the money to the USO for them to build this in Pat Tillman’s memory and Charlie Daniels had the honor of being the first person to perform there.  We had no production equipment – just guitars and his fiddle.  The drummer made a shaker out of Tupperware and used it.   We had to leave one of our “escorts” from USAREUR as he was not cleared to go to Kuwait and Iraq.  We got to talking and realized that we had met in June 2003, when we had the huge show with Chely Wright and Kid Rock at the Baghdad International Airport.  He was working “security” for the stage.  I had thought he looked familiar, but I meet so many people, that I wasn’t sure where I might have met him. Bebe wore some bright pink shoes the other day and General Frutiger has been on a “mission” to buy her a pair of desert books because he doesn’t want her to be a “target” in Iraq.  Today I wore my pink camouflage pants and pink shoes!  Caught a lot of grief from him but the soldiers loved the outfit.  J We loaded up the C-130 with box lunches and took off for Kuwait – a 7 plus hour flight.  It was so miserable.  You can’t really stretch your legs out and you sit in web seating that is like a bench hung from the ceiling.  Again it was freezing but the General made sure we got poncho liners out of the sleeping bags to wrap up in.  I was about to sit in my “usual” seat in the very front part of the plane when the flight crew explained that a “urinal” was installed there and would have a curtain around it and I might want to sit somewhere else.   Good idea!  Usually they only have a “honey bucket” (bucket with a trash can liner in it) in the back but this time they had an actual toilet like you see in campers and it actually flushed!  Still had to climb up on this “throne” and pull a shower curtain around you to use it.  Such luxury, though. We didn’t land in Kuwait until after 7 pm and the hotel was ready for us. This is a 4 star Radisson Hotel and absolutely beautiful.  Has a couple of pools and is located right on the beach.  The restaurant has a buffet dinner that is unbelievable.  So, I’m working on email again at 1 am and chasing down “lost bags”.  At least we know where they are – just not how we’re going to get them here!  Tomorrow is the show at Camp Arifjan.  They had to build a bigger stage because they are expecting over 8,000 people to attend!  Hope the weather is good and WARM!!!  Will be able to send email again tomorrow but not sure after than when we had into Iraq. Night.   Jude

DAY FIVE – APRIL 9TH Forgot to mention that the reason we were performing in the Pat Tillman Center yesterday is because of the show being cancelled the night before.  Charlie was determined to sign autographs and “pick a little” for the troops and they LOVED it.  The only opportunity was when we were refueling the aircraft, so we arranged to have everyone carry on their instruments and hop off for a little impromptu session for them.    So far this trip, he has performed 3 unscheduled shows!  He is an amazing man! The staff at the Radisson “like me” – probably because I give them so much business!  They gave me a beautiful suite this time, but it is a little too big for me.  There is a “living room, dining room, two bathrooms, bedroom and entry way.  The bellman knocked on the door to deliver my luggage and I opened THREE doors before I figured out which one was the outer door.  I also have this beautiful balcony with a lounge chair and tables that overlooks the pool and beach.  Quite different from the tents I’m accustomed to staying in.  Best part is DSL line in my room, though. I got in a wonderful jog this morning along my “normal route”.  It’s on a busy street but goes out near the beach at one point.  Pedestrians do NOT have the right of way here as I learned when I almost got mowed down by a speeding SUV this morning.   It was only 84 degrees at 7 am so I knew I could run outside.  I’m usually here when it’s about 110 degrees at 6 am!  Funny that 84 sounds “cool” enough to run outside. Didn’t even realize that today is the two year anniversary of the fall of Saddam!  We arrived at Arifjan at around 3 pm and Charlie did a little “Meet and Greet” with a couple of hundred troops.  Then we went over to the hospital to visit with the wounded.  No one in there with serious injuries, thank goodness.  Mostly work related injuries as in jumping off a truck and hurting a leg, dehydration, that sort of thing.  There were only about 12 people in there.  This is the same hospital that Chely visited in September and they invited her to watch an appendectomy –which she did! Had some major problems with our sound system.  This same system had been set up in Afghanistan 2 days ago in preparation for our show there.  When our flight was cancelled, they simply tore it down without using it.  Evidently, there was an “electrical power” issue and it blew up the cables.  When they plugged in today with those same cables, it blew up the equipment.  Fortunately, the company had another set of equipment that they brought in.  (Remember – there is only ONE sound company in all of Kuwait because concerts are forbidden in Kuwait.  Alcohol is also forbidden in the entire country!).  We also learned that instead of giving us a separate generator for our show, they had three other huge buildings all trying to run off the same power source.  But, we got everything working and were only about 5 minutes late starting the show.  It was an outdoor stage and there were more than 5,000 people attending.  It was awesome.  Charlie played for more than an hour and signed autographs for almost 2 hours.  It got to see all my friends from Camp Arifjan and Colonel Brick Miller and his wife that I met last September and have stayed in touch with via email.   He’s deployed here for 2 years, so he gets to bring his wife with him. I was backstage talking to some of the MP’s and one of them was trying to tell a young MP how to “dance”.  Now, I cannot dance, but I took a couple of lessons on how to two-step before I left Nashville because I always feel so bad when I have to say “no” to a soldier when he asks me to dance.  So, I gave him a little private lesson.  At least he didn’t know how badly I dance.  J Since BG Frutiger was giving me a hard time about my pink shoes, I decided to wear pink pants and a pink top as well.  I told him we would take a “poll” amongst the soldiers and see if they wanted to see me in pink or in desert camo.  I think I’ll win that argument.  Wait until he sees my bright orange cargo pants that I brought to wear in Iraq  We met up with Cpt. Joshua Stiltner who will be our escort throughout Iraq.  Bags out at 6:30 am tomorrow and we depart for APOD at 8:00.  Then C-130 into Iraq for our first show at Camp Victory.  We’ll be staying in one of Saddam’s former palaces.   Last time there was a DSL line right in my bedroom so maybe I’ll be able to send out emails from there. Jude

DAY SIX – APRIL 10TH: Up early (too early to even get in a jog!) for departure to Iraq.   Of course, our airplane had mechanical problems and was late arriving to pick us up.  Pretty typical during these tours.  We flew in a C-130 from Kuwait to Baghdad with no problems.  Landed and checked into the DV quarters on the lake.  This is the same palace I stayed in with Chalee and Danni in July (where we took several “souvenirs”  and where we sat out back with my friend who is the 2 Star – smoking cigars, swatting at bats, and watching mortars land around the base!).     The General (who is my friend is at the International Zone) and I fought hard to take the show there because they never receive any entertainment.  They have not had a celebrity show there since I had Chely perform there in September.   Politics got involved and I lost the battle – this time!  I was standing in the check-in area and saw some young men checking in.  Something told me they were a part of my friend’s “entourage” so I introduced myself.  They took me over to the base exchange area where he was “rug shopping”.  Wish I had more time here to do a little shopping but our days are crammed full with visits to the remote sites – the reason we’re here!   He has another great group of young men working with him.  Hopefully, they will send me some photos that we took last night with their cameras.  Charlie did an interview with AFN and then he did a “live” feed from Baghdad to the CMT Awards Show in Nashville.  How cool is that?  I can’t wait to get home and see it.  Hopefully SOMEBODY (hint, hint) taped it for me.  The show was outdoors and again, he had around 5,000 people attend.  It was another great performance and he signed autographs for several hours afterwards.   I got to visit during that time with my friend and afterwards, we went to the “midnight” chow at the DFAC.   Still seems strange that we only get to visit in Baghdad.   He’s relocating to Korea in a few weeks and since I spend so much time there, guess we’ll be visiting in Seoul in the future.  The room that they put us in at the palace is probably the worst one as far as “location”.  The bathroom is outside the bedroom and since it’s located right next to the check-in desk, everyone in the lobby considers it the “public restroom”.  I had to wait to take a shower until someone got out of it at midnight when we returned to lodging.  Jude DAY SEVEN – APRIL 11TH: I wanted to get up and run with the General but since we got in so late and had to get up so early, we decided not to plan anything.  Then Bebe woke up at 4:30 am, so of course, I woke up, too, since we’re sharing a room.  Wish we had planned to run because there would have been plenty of time.    Had breakfast with him and then we departed via helicopters to our remote site visits.   He is an outstanding “leader” because he takes such good care of his men.  The guys in his entourage that were allowed to attend Charlie’s concert had a wonderful time and you could tell it was such a morale boost for them.   It was a truly amazing day.  Impossible to put into words.  Our first black hawk flight was from Baghdad to Camp Bernstein.  I’ve been to some really remote locations but never that far North.  And, talk about “remote”.  There was NOTHING anywhere near there.  We specifically targeted visits to these Camps because of the huge contingency of Tennessee National Guard stationed there.  There were very few women stationed at this Camp.  The show was set up inside a hanger and as I walked around during the performance, a soldier asked to have his photo made with me.  Then, there was the domino effect….soldier after soldier came up to have his photo made with me!  I even had several guys ask me if I was Charlie’s wife. J  They were just thrilled to see a “female” in civilian clothes and I had worn a bright blue top and jeans that were split up the legs and tied with little suede strings.  They also said that they hadn’t “smelled” a female’s perfume since last November and were following me around “sniffing”.  There was a puppy at the camp and he immediately came up to me, stuck his nose inside one of the openings on the leg of my jeans and licked my leg.  I commented that he must have “been out here a while, too” and it cracked the soldiers up.  By the way – it is HOT here.  Kuwait was supposed to be hotter, but Iraq if definitely the hottest place we have visited.  It had to be in the high 90’s and this is only April.  I remember that it was 140 degrees in the shade in Baghdad last July 4th! Although it was supposed to only be a little acoustic set, Charlie performed for an hour plus signed autographs afterwards.  Near the end of the show, the chair he was sitting in collapsed.  Fortunately, he wasn’t hurt and the Camp had him autograph the chair after the show.   We had lunch with the troops and I felt bad because they only get two meals a day – breakfast and dinner.  Since they had “lunch” today, they would not have dinner.  Really enjoyed visiting these guys.  This was the FIRST entertainment of any kind that they have received.  Next stop was Camp Cobra which was even more remote.  There were only 3 females stationed there and I talked to one of them for a while.  She was married and has a 3 year old daughter.  She had been there since last June, has not been home once, and will be there until November.  She said that at first, she was a little bit “bitter” about having to leave her family. But, after she got over there and started visiting with the locals, she knew that this was where she needed to be.  She started a program for the women where they help orphans and also got  a building built so that the women could run their own “shops” and not have to buy everything from male vendors.   I was backstage watching the show and a “local” came up and wanted his photo taken with me.  We did that and he disappeared for a while.  Then he came back with “gifts” for me – two pair of earrings, a necklace and a RING.  I asked him if the ring meant we were married and he said, “Yes, it is the tradition!”  I told him I was going to hold out for the Mercedes before committing.   I found out he is a Kurdish interpreter.   Again, Charlie performed for over and hour and then signed autographs and took photos.   And, once again, this was the first entertainment this Camp has ever had. Last stop of a very long day was Camp Anaconda in Balad.  They had built a HUGE stage.  They had made Charlie a beautiful cake welcoming him to Anaconda.  The best part of the evening for me was hooking up with a soldier who had been my very first escort in Iraq in December, 2003.  His name is Major Stew Stephenson and he was AWESOME for us in December with Craig Morgan and Jolie Edwards.   We reminisced about him having to escort us between Al Ramadi and Fallujah in a soft vehicle!  Very dangerous ride.  He actually served a year in Iraq and then begged to come back for another year.  He is a very, very special person and I am so blessed to have him as a friend.   We have stayed in touch via email and it was so special to be able to see him again.  He was the BEST escort we have ever had. There had to have been about 5,000 people at the Anaconda show.   However, Anaconda gets entertainment on a regular basis.  This was my third visit to this Camp.  This is also the Camp where we usually take mortar fire.  I was surprised NOT to have an attack.  Charlie signed autographs for hours.  Then we took a Chinook home instead of our blackhawks.  They told us we would be doing some “: maneuvering” and they lived up to their promise.  At one point flares were going off outside.  I thought they were just test firing but this morning we were told that the helicopter actually took ground fire!  Made it back to lodging at Camp Victory before midnight.  I stayed up late again answering emails.

DAY 8 – APRIL 12th: This is our last day in Iraq and it is very sad.  I overheard a couple of the musicians talking this morning and they were saying how their lives would never be the same after this visit.  I wish everyone – not just Americans – could come here and experience what we see every tour.  It is life-changing and I am a better person for it. We took blackhawks to Camp Caldwell – another remote site with our Tennessee National Guard.  I was surprised by the “lush, green countryside” on the flight up.  I’ve flown over so much of Iraq and usually only see a few “square patches” of green grass.  But this was “green” as far as the eye could see.  We also passed huge smokestacks that I thought were oil refineries but turned out to be brick factories.  The guys at this camp were delighted to have us visit.   Once again, we were the first entertainment they have had.  They had built us a stage and even purchased a drum kit from somewhere.  There was band playing and a “Rocky Top” sign on top of the stage.  Charlie performed for over an hour and signed autographs again.  We didn’t have time to eat lunch with the troops because we have to fly back to Germany today. Flew from Camp Caldwell to Baghdad International Airport and then transferred everything to a C130 for the flight to Kuwait.  Landed right on time in Kuwait and transferred everything to the C40.  Our C40 flight crew has been “on the beach” in Cypress since they dropped us off.  All nice and tanned while we were FREEZING in the ‘Stans!  I think we all passed out on the flight from Kuwait to Frankfurt.  It’s been a very challenging trip but I would go back tomorrow if the opportunity arose.  We had buses waiting for us at the military base in Frankfurt and the bus company belongs to one of my dear, long time friends – Michael Tietze.  I haven’t seen him in years but plan to spend some time with him tomorrow before I depart to Nurnburg to meet up with Richard Marx. That will be an entirely new adventure to begin tomorrow – actually, today.  It’s 2 am and I’m signing off. Jude

DAY 9 – APRIL 13TH: Got everyone off to the flight line.  General Frutiger presented Charlie with a very special award for his service to the U.S. Military.  The 4 Star (General Bell) wanted to present it but it meant us traveling to Heidelburg and there just wasn’t enough time.  My friend with the bus company dropped me off at the regular airport and I was able to get on an earlier flight to Nurnberg.  I am getting a cold and feel pretty lousy, so I was looking forward to getting in early, catching up on email and going to bed.  Arrived in Nurnberg with no problems but it’s strange for me not to have someone meeting me at the airport and taking care of me.  I had to remember to exchange money and then find a taxi to the hotel.  I survived. J Beautiful hotel and they upgraded me to a Junior Suite, which is nice….but….the wireless does not work in this room.  They are actually not sure it works anywhere other than the LOBBY….shades of Switzerland.  Definitely still a third world country.  I had a “technician” in my room for two hours trying to get me on line.  I finally had to settle for “dial up” which is incredibly slow.  By the time we got the internet working, it was 6 pm and I had to run out and purchase some ink jet cartridges (that I forgot to bring!).    Old Town Nurnberg with its walls is located right outside the front door of the hotel.  I walked across to find a computer shop and it is so beautiful.  Wish I had time here to “explore”.  If I feel better tomorrow morning, I’ll at least go jogging around the wall.  Richard Marx and his group arrive tomorrow and hopefully the internet does work in his room.   I had to go down and talk to the manager about it because the sales rep assured me that they had “high speed connection” in each room. One of Charlie’s musicians wrote down his “thoughts” about the trip.  I asked him for a copy of it because he did such a great job of expressing what we all feel.  Here’s his thoughts: