WASHINGTON (Feb. 7, 2012) -- Service members from throughout the National Capital Region were given a number of treats at the 2012 Washington Auto Show's Military Day.
Along with cupcakes, a food spread and a mega-lineup of desserts, active duty personnel and veterans were saluted with free auto show admission and entertainment. The U.S. Army Band's Downrange performed while attendees got to meet and greet current "Dancing with the Stars" champion and wounded warrior J.R. Martinez and professional wrestling great and former Marine, Sgt. Slaughter.
Though he teased the audience that he may dance to one of the Downrange numbers, Martinez used the reception to show his formidable motivational speaking skills by warmly telling service members that they have been supporting and fighting for an easy-to-say, two-syllable word.
"Free-dom," Martinez said by emphasizing each individual syllable. "We wear the uniform, whether it is you who wears the uniform or your wife, girlfriend, your mother or brother or sister or grandfather, your friends or family who are right beside you. They are wearing it in a different way. We do it because we love to serve. We love the responsibility. But it is not about us. It is about this beautiful thing we all love -- freedom. We go out into the world to defend that."
Martinez, was wounded and burned when a landmine exploded during a patrol in Iraq. He battled back to become a key motivational speaker. After over 30 surgeries and skin grafts, Martinez recently served as the grand marshal for the 2012 Tournament of Roses parade on New Year's Day in Pasadena, Calif.
The reception was kicked off by Downrange, which rocked the exclusive Jan. 31 service member-veteran "Welcome Home from Iraq and Afghanistan" party at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center. The USA Cheerleaders, a professional cheer team who support the military worldwide, were also on hand for photo opportunities and to mingle with the crowd.
The auto show, which also hosted President Barack Obama during Military Day, encompassed two levels and 750,000 square feet of the convention floor. The convention center also featured more than 32 domestic and foreign-made vehicles, vintage and concept cars and 700 mini-vans, trucks and sports utility vehicles.