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For nearly a century, country music legends have all stood on a single piece of oak floor while playing at the venue of all venues – the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville.
The Opry Circle was the center part of the stage at the Ryman Auditorium when the legendary show moved there in 1943. In 1974, when the current Grand Ole Opry House was built, a 6-foot circle was cut from the oak stage floor and installed center stage in the new auditorium.
Generations of country music greats have performed inside the circle, and to celebrate the Opry’s 90th anniversary, Grammy-nominated artist Trace Adkins brought a replica of the circle on his recent USO tour to share that experience with troops and military families overseas.
Far from a stranger in supporting troops, Adkins first volunteered with the USO in 2002 and became one of the first entertainers to travel to the Middle East with the organization. To date, the Louisiana native has participated in 10 USO tours and traveled to seven countries – visiting, entertaining and creating moments for more than 43,218 troops and military families. His most recent tour – which spanned April 12-21 – included stops in the Middle East.
“Trace says he’s had a heart for our troops for a long time, and we know they have a heart for him as well,“ said J.D. Crouch II, CEO and President of the USO. "His enduring commitment to our military is legendary, and this time he’s taking along another legend with him: a piece of the Grand Old Opry.”
In collaboration with the USO, Adkins is also a part of the Opry’s Cause for Applause: Salute the Troops activities in May, which will benefit the USO and MusiCorps throughout Military Appreciation Month.
“One of my very first, big performances was at the Grand Ole Opry,” Adkins said. “I remember that day very well. I also fondly remember the day, back in 2003, when I was invited to become a member. The Grand Ole Opry is a lot like family to me – as is the USO.”