Veterans will be honored during a concert Saturday night in downtown Leavenworth.
VFW Post 56 will present Veterans Benefit Concert 2 beginning at 8 p.m. at Haymarket Square, Cherokee and Seventh streets in downtown Leavenworth.
Edge of Forever, a Lynyrd Skynyrd tribute band, will be the featured performers at the event, which is being billed as Operation Awareness.
The concert is intended to raise awareness to suicide prevention.
“Everyone goes through hard times and it’s not a disgrace to talk to someone and vent,” said band leader and lead vocalist Eric Gassen. “It’s a tough world out there and remember, you are not alone.”
All proceeds from the fundraising event will be donated to the Leavenworth County Suicide Prevention Coalition, Team Fidelis, regional suicide prevention organizations and the national VFW wellness program.
A recommended $5 donation is being asked as visitors enter Haymarket Square.
“Edge of Forever is a very unique group,” said Tom Poulter, commander of VFW Post 56. “They travel all over playing concerts but one of their purposes is helping veterans. They are donating their time and talent for a great cause.”
Gassen is one of seven Leavenworth residents in the band. The others are Ed Chapman, keyboard, Roberta Riddle, backup vocalist, Lisa Johnsson, backup vocalist, Stephen Mellott, bass, Paul Weaver, road technician, and Jesse Mathis, stage manager.
The other members of the band live in the Kansas City, Missouri, metro area.
Gassen said the concert’s final song will be “Free Bird.”
“During ‘Free Bird,’ we are going to ask that everyone in the audience light a lighter in memory of those we’ve tragically lost to suicide,” he said.
Gassen said lighting the lighters “symbolizes to those in need that there is light at the end of the tunnel.”
Gassen said audiences “gets emotional” when the band plays “Free Bird,” the 1973 hit song by Lynyrd Skynyrd.
“That’s the song that always gives them goosebumps,” he said. “And it’s the same for us in the band.”
This will be a return visit by Edge of Forever to Leavenworth. The tribute band performed in a similar benefit concert at Haymarket Square in May.
Poulter said the post distributed approximately 700 admission wrist bands at the May concert.
“We always like to play in Leavenworth,” Gassen said. “We like to travel, but it’s nice to play at home.”
The event gets started with a performance by classic rock band Crosseyed Jack at 5:30 p.m. They will play for two hours before the VFW Post 56 hosts a ceremony that begins with the presentation of colors at 7:30 p.m. Poulter will lead the audience in the Pledge of Allegiance before the playing of the national anthem.
Food and drink vendors will be available at the concert. No coolers are allowed.
For more information about the event, contact T_poulter@hotmail.com