Erinn Diaz: Entrepreneur, Performer, Author, Optimist
Our country is outstandingly beautiful.
Though I’m definitely a city girl at heart, there’s no doubt that the vast land of the west is truly a sight to behold. We left the theatre in Cedar Rapids, Iowa (see my previous blog about English River Outfitters and all they do for veterans!) and went to Kansas City, Missouri, where we had a small and meaningful show at a community known as Riverstone. Outside the tiny theatre, there was a wall of tribute to all of the veterans that were residents at Riverstone, complete with active duty photographs of these men and women when they were young adults. It was so emotional to see the wall, and to meet so many of the veterans in the audience. I’ve said it before, and it still stands true…. We truly have the greatest seat in the house when we perform Letters From Home. Sometimes we’ll see a memory flood back, sometimes tears of joy or remembrance will creep into the corners of their eyes. Young men who are now in their twilight are suddenly 19-years old again in their hearts. My cousin, Debbie and her family came to the show as well, and after we all went out to celebrate her birthday and taste some famous Kansas City barbecue.
We left Missouri and went to WaKeeney, Kansas... a very small town… so small in fact that we only saw one car pass the entire time when we were loading in at the auditorium! This show was a joint venture put on by the Ladies Auxiliary of the VFW and the American Legion and was for all veterans and community members. And what a FUN crowd! We found out after the show that one gentleman we pulled up onstage had just recovered from serious health issues and his smile was broad as he beamed onstage. Some folks came from 5 hours away for the concert! It was wonderful to be in a new area with new friends. We had the opportunity to visit the stunning Kansas Veterans Cemetery as well.
Yesterday’s show was in Dodge City, Kansas… tracing it’s origins to 1871 when rancher Henry Silter built a sod house west of Fort Dodge to oversee his cattle operations in the region. With a population of only 27,000, Dodge City is rowdy in spirit and old western heritage! Our performance was at the American Legion, and not only were several community members and veterans in attendance, but there was a busload of incredible veterans from the Kansas Veterans Home. These men and women all had their own unique story, but one in particular, Lewis, was a Prisoner of War from 1961-1980. It was an honor to meet such a hero, and what a strong man to survive everything he was put through for so long. A visit to the Boot Hill Casino & Resort after the show for dinner made for an enjoyable end to the evening.
Well, we got out of Dodge (literally!) and traveled through Oklahoma! Courtney and Nelson cringed as I played the Oklahoma soundtrack along our way. The land was rich and beautiful with nothing but farms and oil drills for miles upon miles. We stopped at an adorable little place called Margarita’s for lunch and met the owner (Margarita) who made the most delicious warm, doughy sopapillas I have ever eaten! And now we’re back on the road… listening to some western music on the way to New Mexico where we’ll be stopping later this evening. Wishing you all a beautiful sunrise, health, wisdom and light.