Less than a three weeks ago, country music duo Big & Rich delighted fans with “God Bless America” at the Route 91 Harvest Festival in Las Vegas. An hour after that performance, a gunman opened fire on Route 91 concertgoers, killing nearly 60 people and injuring hundreds more.
So when Big & Rich returned to Las Vegas on Oct. 19 to headline a benefit show honoring victims, heroes and first responders of the massacre, they knew they had to close out their set with “God Bless America” because, this time, that song had an even deeper meaning for them and their fans.
“We’ll never forget looking out at 22,000 plus [people] at the Route 91 Festival holding their iPhones in the air with the lights turned on, and singing together ‘God Bless America,’” John Rich told the crowd of thousands, who poured into the Orleans Arena for the benefit show dubbed “Vegas Strong: A Night of Healing.”
“Tonight, we honor the wounded. We honor the fallen, and we remember tonight what unifies us as Americans,” John continued. “And that is, we love our freedom, we love this country, and we sing together at the end of the day.”
Then thousands of fans lit up their cell phones and sang together in unison. This time, belting out their voices for the ones who couldn’t sing with them.
Big & Rich’s set at the “Vegas Strong” event followed other performances by Rascal Flatts, Cam and Las Vegas local Sierra Black, as well as many pre-recorded messages from country stars. Fox News host Sean Hannity, who introduced Big & Rich at the Route 91 Harvest Festival, also made an appearance.
Sean tells Fox5Vegas, “What happened to this city reminded me of covering Sept. 11 when it happened. It’s the worst of circumstances: all these people injured, and then the stories of people saving lives.
“We can’t be a nation that stops living,” he continued. “With freedom comes responsibility. Not everyone is responsible. There are evil people, both here and abroad. Then there are the heroes, and [this concert] is about honoring them.”
To see more video from the “Vegas Strong: A Night of Healing” benefit show, check out the full YouTube video here.