Charlie Daniels would be so proud.

The 3rd annual Charlie Daniels Patriot Awards dinner was last week at City Winery in Nashville. At the charity’s first dinner since Daniels’ death, more than $250,000 was raised to benefit Daniels’ veterans non-profit, The Charlie Daniels Journey Home Project (TCDJHP).

The evening’s Patriot Award honorees include “Have You Forgotten” singer Darryl Worley, Mark “Oz” Geist (Benghazi survivor and co-author of 13 Hours / U.S. Marine Corps, retired), the Daniels Center at MTSU and firearms manufacturers Marty and Cindy Daniel of Daniel Defense.

“It’s special in a lot of different ways,” Worley said of receiving the award. “It’s rewarding to be recognized for your hard work, but I think Charlie and I felt the same way about that. This isn’t something we had a choice in. This is something we saw and knew it had to be done. No one was doing it, so we said, ’That’s going to be our gig.’ Him not being there is weird. I know he’s looking down and smiling, and he’s in a whole lot better place. There’s just a big void.”

He treated the audience to a performance of “Have You Forgotten.”

“Charlie saw something in me,” Worley said. “He said, ’God’s not done with you. You’re going to do greater things through him.’”

Chris Young, a former Patriot Award winner, entertained guests with a multi-song set that included his first No. 1 hit “Gettin’ You Home (The Black Dress Song),” his CMA-nominated “Famous Friends,” and “The Dashboard,” an emotional ballad about a soldier who returns from war.
“This isn’t just an event, but a movement and a legacy for Charlie,” said Young, who donated a large sum of money to The Charlie Daniels Journey Home Project after his performance. “I’m so grateful that you wanted to have me here to play some music and be a part of it.”

Daniels’ longtime manager David Corlew quoted the singer, saying: “I quote Charlie in saying ’By the grace of almighty God and the United States military,’ we did it.”

“The doubt fell on all of us when Charlie passed,” Corlew said. “When you spend half a century with someone, you wonder what life will look like without him. That brings us to tonight, and it’s emotional, but it’s a feeling of strength, too. We sold a lot of tables, and a lot of people wanted to be a part of it.ROBYN MCISAAC

“I’m encouraged,” he continued. “The most fun part of this year was the day I got to sit down and lunch and tell him he was winning this award. It’s hard because there’s not many artists who do go and give that extra time.”

The 3rd annual Charlie Daniels Patriot Awards dinner benefits The Charlie Daniels Journey Home Project. This not-for-profit organization assists other not-for-profits in securing funds to help causes that benefit veterans of the United States Armed Forces.