Retired Marine Gunnery Sgt. Tony Solomon just wanted citizens to recognize the services and sacrifices made by veterans - beyond the ceremonies on a couple of days a year.
A letter to the editor in this newspaper in May expressed his disappointment in lackluster response to veteran recognition efforts, in particular Military Appreciation Month in May. "Please try to do better," he pleaded. "We deserve it."
When asked, quite sincerely, "What would you have us do?" Solomon replied that he had figured out it if he was so passionate about this, then was up to him to do something first. He set his mind and efforts on planning the event that he envisioned.
Over the next months, Solomon held a meeting for interested volunteers, talked to officials, secured a location, visited with veterans' groups, solicited donations of food, beverages, talent and prizes, and pulled it all together.
Veterans Rock: A Day of Recognition will be held from 5 to 9 p.m. on Veterans Day, Nov. 11, at Bluffton's Oyster Factory Park, 63 Wharf St. in Old Town.
"I was tired of hearing from organizations that said it would never get done, I couldn't do it, nobody would support it because I'm not associated with any organization," Solomon said. "And now my community, my hometown, has stepped up for me - more than I thought they would."
Three bands - Groove Town Assault, Pretty Darn and La Bodega - have donated their time and talents.
Food from Sippin Cow, Merican Border food truck, She Crab Soup food truck, and Choo Choo BBQ will be available for purchase.
Also included are a silent auction and activities for children, including a clown and bounce house.
Resource booths will feature various agencies who provide services for veterans, including Veterans Affairs, HOPE PTSD research group, and Fisher House Charleston.
When asked why he did all this, Solomon replied, "I'm a Marine, my oath never expires. I've always loved my Corps, but in general, I love our veterans."
Then he added, "And I want to make my mom proud."
The event is free for veterans of all eras and their families. Admission for others is a minimum $5 donation. Proceeds will benefit programs at the Fisher House Charleston, which provides a home away from home for families of veterans and active military patients being treated at the Ralph H. Johnson VA Medical Center.
Donations will be accepted before and during the event of cash, non-perishable food, clothing and camping gear.
For more information or to volunteer, call Solomon at 843-816-5886.