Peter Gaytan, executive director of the Legion’s Washington office, joins up with HISTORY’s Trace Arnold – aka the “Rib Whisperer” – and Soldier’s Wish Executive Director Rick Bauer at the Salute & Serve Our Nation’s Heroes event at Charlotte Motor Speedway. (Photo courtesy Soldiers Wish)

Salute & Serve event a success in Charlotte

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The inaugural Salute & Serve Our Nation’s Heroes event – featuring the efforts of The American Legion, Soldier’s Wish and the HISTORY channel – was a big success at Charlotte Motor Speedway in North Carolina over the weekend.

More than 400 tickets to the HISTORY 300 NASCAR Nationwide Series race were given to servicemembers and veterans. A soldier who has completed four tours of duty in Afghanistan was, along with his family, given a VIP experience while attending the Coke 600 Sprint Cup Series race. And two North Carolina National Guardsmen were guests in the HISTORY Channel’s VIP suite for the HISTORY 300 and were given a behind-the-scenes tour of NASCAR. Medal of Honor recipients also were honored for their service with a special tasting provided by HISTORY’s Cross-Country Cookout.

Stars from several HISTORY programs, including Rick Dale from "American Restoration" and Willy Robertson from "Duck Dynasty," were at the track over the weekend. Soldier’s Wish Executive Director Rick Bauer was on hand, as was Peter Gaytan, executive director of the Legion’s Washington office. Gaytan shared the Legion’s message and asked those in attendance to thank those currently serving in the U.S. Armed Forces. "Through Soldier’s Wish and The American Legion, we can say ‘thank you’ to those who have served and those currently serving," said Gaytan.

The American Legion and Soldier’s Wish had a tent at the Charlotte Speedway where people could nominate a servicemember or veteran to have a wish granted; more than 1,000 nominations were submitted.

North Carolina Legionnaires – including National Executive Committeeman Jerry Hedrick and Department Adjutant Frank Stancil – were on hand to pass out hundreds of Legion brochures and answer any questions about the Legion.

Several more Salute & Serve Our Nation’s Heroes events are planned for the remainder of the summer. They include:

    • June 6-9 – CMA Music Festival; Nashville, Tenn.
    • June 25 – HISTORY New York City Event
    • July 6-7 – Summerfest; Milwaukee
    • July 20 –  Chicago
    • July 29-31 –  Oshkosh Airventure; Oshkosh, Wis.
    • Aug. 4-6 –  Sturgis Motorcycle Rally; Sturgis, S.D.