If you go
* What: Chattanooga Unite: A Tribute on the River
* When: 2-9 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 16
* Where: Opening parade will travel along Broad Street beginning at M.L. King Boulevard and ending at Ross’s Landing on Riverfront Parkway
* Admission: Free, but donations will be taken
* Phone: 423-756-2211
* Note: There will be free parking and a shuttle service originating at Finley Stadium
Interview with Samuel L. Jackson in tomorrow’s paper
Barry Courter spoke with actor Samuel L. Jackson, who will emcee the Chattanooga Unite event on Wednesday. Read in Wednesday’s Times Free Press what the former Chattanoogan has to say about the event, Chattanooga and being the highest-grossing film actor of all time.
Country artists Trace Adkins, Colt Ford and former Staind frontman Aaron Lewis have been added to the Chattanooga Unite: A Tribute on the River benefit event honoring the five military men killed July 16 and their families Wednesday at Ross's Landing. They will join Brantley Gilbert onstage during his closing performance, according to Friends of the Festival marketing coordinator Amy Morrow.
Friends is handling the production end of the event, including bringing the Coca-Cola Stage used during the Riverbend Festival out of storage for the concert.
Gilbert's set will culminate the daylong celebration, which will include a performance by Harry Connick Jr., a parade, and a memorial ceremony emceed by Chattanooga native Samuel L. Jackson. The U.S. Navy Blue Angels will fly over at 4:30 p.m.
Gilbert, whose song "One Hell of an Amen" has touched the lives of military personnel and their families around the world, said he'd approached several performers about joining him onstage for the event, and to a person they were receptive. Many had scheduling conflicts, however.
"There is something about country music," Gilbert said. "Everybody wanted to do something to help. Everybody has been so supportive."
Gator Harrison with iHeart Radio, who is one of the planners of the tribute, said Gilbert has been working hard to make the event memorable.
"He said from the beginning that, 'I know I have some buddies who want to come play.' Colt Ford is so much fun to watch perform, but he is an American patriot, as well.
"People will likely know Aaron Lewis from the rock band Staind, but he has been singing country for a couple of years now and dude just loves his country and wanted to be there," Gilbert said. "What can you say about Trace Adkins? The only thing bigger than his physical stature is his heart. He has done so much for people, some of it people know about and some they don't.
"I think Wednesday will be something we remember and talk about for years to come."
The event is free, but attendees are encouraged to make donations at collection bins placed throughout the site or online at ChattanoogaUnite.org. Funds will benefit The National Compassion Fund.
Adkins has sold more than 10 million albums and is a Grammy-nominated member of the Grand Ole Opry, as well as a television personality, actor, author and spokesman for the Wounded Warrior Program and the American Red Cross. He has performed on seven USO Tours.
Ford wrote the Jason Aldean multi-platinum hit single "Dirt Road Anthem" with Gilbert. Ford's latest album, "Thanks for Listening," features collaborations with Keith Urban, Randy Houser, Justin Moore and Lee Brice.
Lewis switched gears, moving from the Staind rock/metal band to a solo career in country music.
Food and beer vendors will be selling their wares during the event. Everything, including the food and beverages, staging, lighting, staffing and city services, has been donated, according to Friends of the Festival Executive Director Chip Baker. All proceeds will go the National Compassion Fund, which benefits victims of mass crimes and terrorism.
Contact staff writer Barry Courter at firstname.lastname@example.org or 423-757-6354.
2 p.m. Armed Forces Parade along Broad Street from M.L. King Boulevard to the riverfront at Ross’s Landing
3 p.m. Memorial Service and Remembrance with emcee, Samuel L. Jackson
* National anthem and Pledge of Allegiance
* Presentation of military colors
* Tributes from community and military leaders
* “Eternal Father” (Navy and Marine funeral song)
* Flags presented to families
* 21-gun salute
* Playing of taps
* Chattanooga Combined Church Choir
4:30 p.m. Blue Angel Missing-Man Formation flyover
* 5-6:30 p.m. Harry Connick Jr.
7-8:30 p.m. Brantley Gilbert and Friends (Trace Adkins, Colt Ford, Aaron Lewis)
8:30 p.m. Fireworks