Mount Vernon’s Dan Emmett Festival Celebrates Veterans with Lee Greenwood and Honor Flight


MOUNT VERNON, Ohio – Lee Greenwood took the stage Saturday at the 32nd annual Dan Emmett Music and Arts Festival for a one-night-only tour-de-force celebrating our nation’s veterans.

John and Diane Holley, area residents and Honor Flight volunteers, contacted the Dan Emmett Board Chair, Joe Rinehart, when they learned Lee Greenwood would be at the Festival. Rinehart helped them iron out the details of the meet and greet, and Greenwood did not disappoint.


Dan Large and Tom Roberts

Two of the vets who attended the special meet-and-greet were old friends. Fred Dailey served in the Army and his buddy Lowell Henthorn the Marines during Vietnam. The men had grown up together and caused mischief, both at home and abroad, to hear them tell it. Dailey went on to become Ohio’s longest serving Director at the Department of Agriculture, but still resides just outside Mount Vernon near his friend Henthorn.

Tom Large and Don Roberts, two Air Force veterans, also got to meet Lee Greenwood before the show. Large was able to spend enough time with the patriotic singer to get a book signed before the performance. Large, a Vietnam vet, also shared his concerns about the American peoples’ loss of love for their country with Greenwood. Roberts spoke briefly with Greenwood, shook hands and had some pictures taken.

Army veterans Joe Heindl and George Oliver joined the mix, speaking and glad-handing with Greenwood. Two sailors completed the group: Andy Hesselbart and Andy Panyik. Panyik and his wife Beth stayed for the festivities and enjoyed the concert.

Greenwood spoke to the press after meeting with the veterans and shared his sentiments, “The World War II veterans, the Vietnam veterans, the Korean veterans are dying at a rate that’s unbelievable. My father served in World War II as well. You’ve got to take time for the veterans. You always make sure they know that they’ve been honored and honored for their service.”

Honor Flight Columbus assisted with the concert. They are a veterans’ support organization that arranges free flights to Washington DC for World War II, Korean and Vietnam vets. The trips are designed for these men and women to visit their memorials and interact with fellow military members from their era. As of June 8, 2019, more than 6,000 central Ohio veterans have been able to make the journey.

The annual Dan Emmett Festival brings droves of people to Mount Vernon. The occasion recognizes home town boy Daniel Decatur Emmett, who was born there on October 29, 1815. Emmett was an accomplished musician and composer and performed in minstrel shows. He is best known for “Dixie,” the anthem of the South during the Civil War.

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Beth Lear is a reporter at The Ohio Star.  Follow Beth on Twitter.  Email tips to






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