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Naval District Washington's (NDW) Morale Welfare and Recreation program hosted the Defenders of Freedom Appreciation Day for all military and Department of Defense employees at the Six Flags of America theme park, Sept. 22.

The exclusive event offered a day at the park at a reduced rate and a concert by legendary southern rock band Lynyrd Skynyrd for the first 5,000 ticket holders.

"It's just nice to get out and [spend time with] other folks in the military, including myself and other folks here who volunteer to give up their lives," said Lt. Cmdr. Jason Fox, engineering duty officer for Naval Surface Warfare Center at Naval Support Facility Dahlgren. "It's always nice to get a thank you back every now and then, even though we don't expect it."

During the event approximately 5,073 personnel and their family members were able to enjoy more than 100 rides, slides, shows and attractions offered by the only theme park in the NDW region. Prior to the concert, 35 special guests received backstage passes to meet the band.

"My dad and my mom have brought me up singing this music," said Sarah Gray, park attendant and singer. "Lynyrd Skynyrd is amazing and it's a different feel from any music in the whole entire world. Meeting the band was like something I never even thought would happen."

Gary Rossington, founding member of Lynyrd Skynyrd, expressed the band's love for the military and looked forward to the audience enjoying the music and taking a little time to forget about daily stressors. "I hope [the audience] gets a lot out of us playing for them. We hope that they just like the music and forget their blues and troubles, and forget war for an hour and a half and just listen."

"None of us had to go serve overseas or be on the front lines, so we feel blessed that way," said Rossington. "We try to help anyway we can, we've played for a lot of benefits for them and try to help the wounded warriors. We are just behind our troops, we think the best thing that this country has is the military."

According to Lee Bell, MWR regional program manager, MWR wanted to put together a large scale event that impacted a greater number of personnel within the region. His staff worked together with Navy Entertainment, which provides quality live entertainment to military members and their families, to book Lynyrd Skynyrd.

For more information on events within the region visit http://www.face!/NavDistWash.