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National Veterans MuseumUSA Patriotism! proudly recognizes . . . well-known Chicago entertainer Joe Cantafio, who is the founder and CEO of the National Veterans Museum ... for his ongoing support of our troops through his performances and other love of country efforts.

While Joe's primary efforts since 2011 is with the National Veterans Museum, here are highlights of his other patriotic efforts associated with supporting America's troops and veterans...

After the attacks of September 11th, Joe Cantafio tried to enlist into the military but was turned down because of his age.

Joe then turned to his first love, music, and created a “one-man” show titled “Let Freedom Sing,” a tribute to the FDNY firefighters. The show caught the attention of the nation and Cantafio and FDNY firefighters toured the country during 2001 - 2002.

On a flight home after a show in California, Cliff Russell, the brother of deceased FDNY firefighter Stephen P. Russell, asked Joe; “How do I continue to heal after you are done?” Cantafio answered, “We'll take it to the troops and thank them for keeping the fight off the streets of America and bringing those cowards to justice.” 

During the month of February of 2004, Joe Cantafio assembled an “all-star” band which he named, The 101st Rock Division. Along with Cliff Russell, Cantafio and the band performed 9 shows in Iraq, including performances at Camp Victory (Baghdad), Camp Anaconda (Balad), Tillil Air Base, Camp Falcon (Baghdad), Martyrs Monument (Baghdad) and Baghdad International Airport. In addition, the group entertained American and coalition forces in Qatar, Bahrain, Kuwait, United Arab Emirates, and Djibouti, Africa. 

Upon his return from the Middle East, Cantafio and Vietnam Veteran friend, Robert Kolling founded USA Forgotten Heroes. Bob and Joe developed events and enlisted the service of other entertainers to perform for the thousands of wounded warriors who fill our Veteran Hospitals across the nation for several years until Joe Cantafio founded the National Veterans Museum.

On Thanksgiving night 2004, Ryan Joseph Cantafio USMC, (Joe's cousin from Beaver Dam, Wisconsin,) paid the ultimate price for American freedom. After the funeral services, Cantafio penned a beautiful ballad titled, Brave Warrior.  Cantafio said...

“The song was inspired by Ryan, his short life and his great service to our country, however, it is dedicated to all “brave warriors,” who have joined our great military and served selflessly, giving up all of their “tomorrows” so we can live in peace and freedom today.

 

I wish all Americans could see what we saw in February of 2004. Our troops are doing an incredible job under less then comfortable conditions. Sure, we all see the key battles, the over-hyped scandals and the death toll on the nightly news, but why don't we see the new schools and buildings, the new roads, electric power plants and water and sewage systems and yes, even recreation areas that the US military personnel are building?

 

While entertaining in Iraq in 2004, I would ask our troops why are you here? The top two answers were; 1) ‘So my children won't have to deal with this ...' and 2) ‘ ...to rid the world of terrorists.' Some of the finest people I have met in my life, I have met on military bases. 

 

America is truly blessed to have such dedicated, patriotic, committed and honorable military personnel. God bless America and may God continue to bless our great troops. I know my family sleeps very well at night because of them.”

 

Note: Joe Cantafio is also involved with Free Throws For Heroes ... shooting 100 free throws each June to raise money for a memorial fund in honor of several fallen heroes, including his cousin, USMC Ryan Cantafio. (Joe is a great free throw shooter with a 90+ percent success rate.)

 

Joe Cantafio and Jade perform on Joe's “Let Freedom Sing Tour” at St. Zachary's Augustfest in 2002. (l to r) Vic Lubieniecki, Frank Capek, Joe, Chuck Acosta (drums) Joe Macicak and Steve Albue.

Soldiers Christmas Project - Christmas 2009

Joe Cantafio
Joe Cantafio


Joe with a solider after a show in Iraq.

Joe and the guys perform on the steps of Saddam's Baghdad, Iraq Palace, renamed Camp Victory by the American Forces.
Joe and the guys perform on the steps of Saddam's Baghdad Palace, renamed Camp Victory - 2004.

Joe and the guys with a troop in Tillil, Iraq - 2004

Joe with Air Force Col. Patrick “Bull” Sheets - Iraq

Army Capt. Chase Martin, Joe, and Jon Brant - Iraq

Soldiers Christmas ProjectJoe Cantafio partnered with veteran Chicago broadcaster and voice actor Paul Brian in the Soldiers Christmas Project, a holiday celebration of the spoken word, music and song has been released for download by JP Music of Oak Brook, Illinois.

The 11-cut CD includes poems honoring the service of our military, the traditional biblical Christmas Story from the Book of Matthew, O. Henry's “Gift of the Magi,” and other original works including what many have said will be the next big single for the season, “I Want a Kiss,” brought back to life after a quarter century of waiting to be released!

“The timetable this recording project was on would have made any sane person walk away,” said Paul Brian. “The idea for it hit me when I was hospitalized with the flu last month. I called Joe and said, ‘I have an idea,' and from there we've been going at warp speed to today when we're proud to make these remarkable readings and recordings available to the public."

Both performers designated the Wounded Warrior Project for contributions from the proceeds of the album.

Experience the video of Joe Cantafio's inspiring performance of his heartfelt song, Brave Warrior
Joe Cantafio wrote Brave Warrior in memory of his cousin, Ryan (a Marine), who was KIA in Iraq in 2004.

Other Recognized Stars  |  More Tributes  |  Listen to Patriotic Songs / Music

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