Nov. 08--In 2007, Amy Scruggs of San Diego walked into the USO at Ontario International Airport and asked volunteers there "How can I serve?"
She initially served refreshments to returning and deploying military personnel. Then she started singing for them there and at concert venues and military bases.
Patriotism was nothing new for the former San Dimas resident whose love of country began at age 4 when she sang the national anthem and "God Bless America." Using her regional success as a country-and-western singer opening for such notables as Trace Atkins, Eric Church, Charlie Daniels and Clint Black, Scruggs uses her voice and sense of patriotic purpose to entertain military men and women and veterans throughout California. In January, she begins hosting the weekly Amy Scruggs Hour on ESPN 1700AM in San Diego.
On Veterans Day, she performs a full concert commemorating the final-phase dedication of the San Dimas H.E.R.O.E.S. Veterans Monument. Volunteers from the San Dimas Helping Establish a Remembrance Of Every Serviceperson Project, the nonprofit which initiated and oversaw construction of the veterans monument completely from community and business donations, stage a traditional 5:30 p.m. dedication at the monument in Freedom Park at the northwest corner of San Dimas Avenue and Commercial Street.
The dedication includes popular Go Country 105.1FM disc jockey Shawn Parr as master of ceremonies; remarks by retired Marine colonel and now California Department of Veteran Affairs Undersecretary Lawrence D. Gonzales and tributes by school, church and community groups to honor veterans from the Civil War, World War I, World War II, Korean conflict, Vietnam War, Gulf Storm, Operation Iraqi Freedom and peacetime duty. Names of veterans inscribed on the second granite wall of the monument designed by Eddie Martinez Jr. and a temporary mural by professional artist and San Dimas High School art teacher Dominic Black and his students will be unveiled.
Scruggs and her Ghost Riders Band, led by her son and lead guitarist Ryan Owens, take the stage at 6 p.m.
"We plan to sing and play our hearts out for the men and women who've served our country and protected freedom," Scruggs said.
Her love of country music and her country was instilled in her by her father, Tom Scruggs, an Air Force veteran, and encouraged by her mother Marilou Scruggs when she realized their 3-year-old daughter had a natural and special affinity for music, especially patriotic and country music. Born in Covina and raised in San Dimas from age 3, Amy's talent was nurtured by family, educators and community residents in a small-town environment she said gave her solid roots as well as wings to soar musically.
"We were visiting family friends when I was 3 and they had a piano. I climbed up on the piano bench and started playing it and singing 'Jesus Loves Me.' My startled parents said 'maybe we ought to do something with that.' They arranged piano lessons with Mary Beth Warfeld in La Verne. Later, I got involved with the children choirs and choral sings conducted by Martene Craig who was then Pomona First Baptist Church's minister of music," Scruggs said. The love and encouragement she received from these two ladies helped her take music steps beyond her first fledgling forays into music as a toddler, she added.
Singing, said Scruggs, lets her evoke emotions and stir passions at a higher level than mere conversation. She loves musically transporting people back to a special memory or moment. It is a talent shared with two of her four children. Although teenagers Jeff and Matt prefer dirt-bike racing as recreational pasttimes, Ryan, 22, and Alisa, 8, find music as fulfilling as their mother. Alisa plays guitar and sings.
Ryan, who became roadie for her band to earn money to buy his first truck, had sworn he'd "never, ever" play on stage with her. But the music bug bit him while carrying band members guitars, so he taught himself to play rhythm guitar. "And now, here I am, playing in my mom's band and loving every second of it," he happily declared. Ryan also writes original music for her.
"When he gave me his first song, I about fell over," Scruggs confessed. "I realized he wasn't a little boy handing me an amateurish art project. It was amazing. I asked him if he'd allow me the privilege of singing his music. I really respect his creative ability."
The pair and Ghost Riders guitarist Brian San Paolo, drummer Carmie San Paolo and bassist Aaron Lawler will perform patriotic and country songs, including composer Dave Adams' "Comin' Home," a song of gratitude to military personnel, past and present.
(c)2013 the Inland Valley Daily Bulletin (Ontario, Calif.)
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