Celebrating and commemorating our veterans. United States military veterans and their families.

KISS a Vet – Gig Line #22


By Marsha M. Brown

Almost everyone has heard the metaphorical phrase, “Don’t judge a book by its cover”. That old adage has probably proven itself true for most if not all of us at one time or another.

A long time ago, I came to realize that people from all walks of life, professions and income levels love our service men and women.

While my sweetie pie and I were surfing TV channels one night, we saw an advertisement for the show “Gene Simmons Family Jewels”. In the pre-show clip that was about to start, Gene Simmons, the famous vocalist and base guitarist of the rock band “KISS” was interacting with his long time 20+ year girlfriend Shannon Tweed and their two children.

My first thought was to turn the channel…immediately. I had no interest in watching someone with demon looking makeup talk about his perspective on things. He didn’t play the kind of music we enjoyed and I could never imagine attending one of his concerts. Plain and simple, I had no interest whatsoever in watching the show. But my better half Billy stayed the channel. I didn’t argue, I just sat there waiting until a commercial came on thinking he would turn it to something else. Surprise, surprise, surprise…he didn’t turn the channel and as it turned out; I didn’t mind or leave the room to watch TV in another part of the house.

Shocked? I was too. I sat there with my eyes glued to the set. I was surprised and interested that Mr. Simmons was very likeable, funny and extremely protective over his family. Quickly, it became clear that he was a devoted father, that he loved and deeply respected his mother, was interested in his family history and that he loved our country…very much.  

We’ve watched that show numerous times since then and I came to the realization that I could look past the scary makeup and focus on the person himself and his views on life. I learned that he was not born into privilege in the United States but rather that he was born in Haifa, Israel and that his Mom is a survivor of the German Nazi concentration camps.

On one of the shows Mr. Simmons, Shannon (they are now married) and their son “Nick”, went on a trip to Israel. While they were there Mr. Simmons felt his heritage. They visited The Wailing Wall where he left a written prayer; he retraced the steps Jesus is said to have taken while bearing the cross and they visited Yad Vashem, the Holocaust History Museum in Jerusalem. At the Museum he saw countless pictures of Holocaust survivors and displays that depicted what it was like for the Jewish nation in 1944 including proof of his own Mother’s imprisonment.

During the program, I learned more about the suffering of Jewish families who were deprived, tortured and killed at the hands of the Nazi’s. It was sad and very hard to think about.  

In other episodes, Mr. Simmons boasted of his respect for our military and visited our troops celebrating their heroism and sacrifice. He attended the “Rock for Vets” event and Shannon participated in the “Kiss a Vet Program” as well as the countless other appearances he has made to acknowledge Veterans and promote our troops during his concerts.

In the most recent August 2012 edition of The American Legion magazine article entitled “My America”, Mr. Simmons referred to his young age when he realized it was his “responsibility to learn to speak English if (he) wanted to access all the freedoms and opportunities America had to offer”. In addition, he also is quoted as saying, “I also learned it was my responsibility to know America’s proud history and to understand that if it wasn’t for America, the world would be in chaos”. Further, “The greatness of America, the freedoms we have and the opportunities we are given are made possible only by the proud men and women of our military”. It was nice to see in print that Mr. Simmons supports our Veterans and our troops enough that a portion of each ticket sold during their last tour went to Wounded Warriors.  

My writing about this is to simply state that many people, even the ones you may least expect, deeply appreciate our military, honor our troops and participate in fund raising activities on a regular basis. It doesn’t matter what little we think we can do, we can all do something to help our Veterans.

What ‘shtick’ entertainers use in their performances, how people dress, what they have or what they don’t…doesn’t matter, America is a melting pot of nationalities from everywhere that love, support and embrace our American way of life.

That being said, every Veteran I’ve spoken to is grateful for the fund raisers, publicity and events that people from all walks of life participate in to benefit them. But, the real sacrifices are being made each and every day without exception by our Veterans on our behalf. When you see a Veteran, clap, cheer, shake their hand or just say’ thank you’, it’s the least we can do.

Write to me at editor@giglineheroes.com . Until next time, be safe, be happy, be proud and stay tuned.

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