Jim Belushi (“K-9”) and Dan Aykroyd (“The Blues Brothers”) came out to cheer and sing for veterans at their 22nd Annual Veterans Holiday Celebration on Sunday at the West Los Angeles VA Campus for 3500 veterans, service members and their families. The theme was “Honoring America’s Heroes”, and 800 volunteers supported this heroes’ celebration.
From the holiday banquet hall to “The Blues Brothers” movie car on display, entertainment tent, and sponsor tables, we were fortunate to meet veterans from World War II, Vietnam, Afghanistan and Iraq, and hear their brave stories. Volunteers served a full turkey dinner, while Carolers sang. Supercuts also gave out free haircuts, and you can see all the action in our 20 PHOTOS in this story.
Jami Bess (Jim Belushi’s daughter) sang before the headliners hit center stage, while Jim stood in the crowds beaming with pride. Jami gave heartfelt thanks to veterans on stage saying, “Thank you for having me. I just want to serve you guys the way you served us. Thank you so much for all your work.”
Legendary Producer Actor/Writer/Producer Rob Reiner (“All in the Family” introduced the entertainment headliners (Jim Belushi and Dan Aykroyd), and then joined this dynamic duo as they sang classic tunes such as “Mustang Sallie.” After this song, Dan Aykroyd shared sincere appreciation, “Thank you ladies and gentleman. It’s an honor to be here. Thank you so much.”
Many thanks to the exciting entertainment line-up introduced by the Master of Ceremonies Scott Shimamoto, including:
• National Anthem: Ms. Holiday Hadley
• Keynote Speaker: Mr. Curly Elliot (Pearl Harbor Survivor)
• Jim Belushi and the Sacred Hearts Band
• Special performances by Bernie Dressel (Brian Setzer Orchestra), Carl Verheyen (Supertramp) and Stuart Hamm (renown bass player)
• Laker Girls and Kings Ice Crew roaming the grounds
• Danny D and The Dents
• Jami Bess (Singer/Songwriter and Jim Belushi’s daughter)
• New Directions Choir
• Blues Brothers movie car on display (Paul Casey Productions who gave out Blues Brothers 2000 pins)
What was even more inspiring was to see veterans and service members reunite with their fellow comrades and their families. We were honored to eat dinner with Alan Peye and Glen Anthony (who served in Afghanistan). We also met Pete Howenstein (WWII Survivor, Battle of the Bulge in Normandy) and Jim Sivazlian (Vietnam veteran). To give thanks, we honored Jim Sivazlian with one of our Hero Goody Award Tags from the Goody Awards.
Members of the Naval Sea Cadets Corp were also there doing a formation. In addition, the USC Veterans Association of young veterans (led by their President Mike Johnson), who mostly served in Afghanistan and Iraq, were there as volunteers.
Towards the end, many veterans danced in front of the stage, which was a fun way to close this heroes celebration. Many thanks to the 800 volunteers who made this event a huge success and big cheers to all the veterans. Thank you for your service!
© Liz H Kelly, National Digital Entertainment Columnist and Goody Awards Founder