The real “Lt. Dan” caught up with Fox Fan on what Memorial Day means to him.
Q: Tell me a little about what you've been working on with our troops since we caught up with you last year?
A: I've been incredibly busy this year and it seems to get busier every year. Last year, the Lt. Dan Band and I did multiple concerts for the troops with various Military organizations. I got to secure a few days off from CSI NY around thanksgiving and we played 3 concerts in Iraq. We went on two overseas trips for the troops plus various other concerts all around. I visited the Army Medical Center, Walter Reed and been all over on several occasions. It's been a busy year and each year I kind of say that maybe I should try to slow down a bit. I've been involved with so many different organizations each year and I want to continue to visit each one of them each year. The war goes on and the troops and their families still need us so I want to try to do what I can.
Q: In your conversations with our troops, what have they shared with you about their experiences and how they feel?
A: Yea, I always hear different stories. My nephew is with the 82nd Airborne Division over in Afghanistan near Kandahar and due to come back in August. That's a pretty serious area over there. Now that I've been doing this for so long, and been so many places and been on TV talking about it so I meet people all the time. Some families will come up to me who has a son or daughter in the service overseas and they want to tell me their own family stories. A lot of people are out there very, very busy defending our country and we don't want to ever forget them.
Q: How do you feel your work overseas has affected you on a personal and perhaps a professional level?
A: Yea I've made what have become just very valued and personal friendships with many who serve our country and I have stayed in touch with certain folks. I meet so many and of course I can't stay in touch with everybody, but I've made some very good friendships with various folks and I see them when I can. I'm going to see a couple this weekend, one was in Korea and one was in Afghanistan and now they both happen to be stationed in D.C. so that should be a great time. I've stayed in touch with lots of wounded soldiers over the years. Some of my most valued pals that I've met since 9/11 are buddies from the FDNY that have retired since then and have kept active with the FDNY. I am very grateful for all my pals.
Q: The Lt. Dan band - give our viewers an update. Any shows or events coming up soon?
A: We've been busy this month with 8 shows. Since I'm on TV, doing charity work with the band is my part time. July 4th we are going overseas playing on for the fifth time. Then, we'll be back in Germany to do a concert and about a week later we'll play in Naples, Italy. It's just a 2 show tour this summer, but every summer for the past 8 years I've taken the band somewhere for the troops. Last year, we did 40 concerts and about 30 of them were either USO or Military charities. I love doing it and it's a good feeling to be able to pitch in and do something positive.
Q: What are your plans for this Memorial Day?
A: This Memorial Day, I'm co-hosting the National Memorial Day Concert with Joe Mantegna that is broadcast on PBS at 8p et. It's LIVE from D.C. right in front of the capital filled with music and special guests. There's usually about 200,000 people sitting on the lawn in front of the capital. It's a great way to take a minute out on Memorial Day to remember those who sacrifice for us. Memorial Day for many is just a BBQ or a ballgame, but it really is a significant holiday and it's there for a reason. It's my pleasure to take a moment out for those who do this for us.
Q: This Memorial Day, what do you want to say to all of the men and women serving our country at home and overseas?
A: I'm very very greatful that we have men and women willing to serve our country especially in such a dangerous and difficult time. I know how hard they work and how difficult these deployments are on them and their families. I want them to know from me that service and sacrifice is not taken for granted and I appreciate the freedom that I have and I know where it came from and it's from our defenders who ensure that we all can go about our daily lives with safety and security.