By Amanda Kim Stairrett
Fort Hood Herald
About 100,000 packed Hood Stadium on Saturday to celebrate Freedom Fest, which was capped by the largest fireworks display in Central Texas.
A day of activities ended at sundown with a concert by country star Dierks Bentley, who told the crowd he was happy to spend his Fourth of July with the crowd and thanked the soldiers and families for their service and sacrifice.
Bentley's father was an officer in Japan during World War II and said he inspired him to write the song, "My Last Name." The singer said his dad was his hero for a lot of things, including his service.
Spc. Michael Kondorf, 19, and Staff Sgt. Sam Shoemate, 25, are intelligence analysts in the 13th Sustainment Command who are preparing for a deployment to Iraq.
They said the concert and fireworks were great and both did a lot to bring up morale. Shoemate has been in the Army seven years and said Fort Hood's was the biggest and best fireworks display he's seen. Freedom Fest was important because it was open to the public and people could interact with and appreciate soldiers.
"I am in awe of soldiers just as much as everyone else," Shoemate said.
He wanted soldiers who are currently deployed to know that the soldiers back at Fort Hood were taking care of things.
"We appreciate you guys more than anybody else," he added.