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Willie Nelson Recalls ‘Determined’ Post-9/11 Farm Aid

Paul Natkin, WireImage

With his annual Farm Aid concert scheduled just a couple of weeks after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, the organization’s president, Willie Nelson, and Farm Aid organizers were faced with the difficult decision of whether to postpone the show or move ahead as planned.

In an exclusive essay for the Huffington Post, Willie writes of the concern as to whether concert attendees would be ready to enjoy themselves. Ultimately, they decided the show, set to take place in Noblesville, Ind., should go on.

“Farm Aid is a celebration of the unique resource we have in our family farmers,” writes the entertainer and activist. “After 9/11, in that time of grief and shock, we wanted to remind folks of our country’s strength through the strength of our family farmers — the backbone of this nation. We were determined to send a message of hope. We felt the strength, resiliency and ingenuity of our family farmers could serve as a model for the nation.”

With 26 years of Farm Aid concerts now behind him, Willie acknowledges that the 2001 event was a standout.

“I could see looking out at the audience that this was not just a concert, but a coming together around all that is right and true in the United States,” he notes. “Gathering at Farm Aid 2001 was a statement of our solidarity, our belief in each other, our faith that we would carry on, stronger than ever. We opened the show with Arlo Guthrie and the whole Farm Aid 2001 lineup singing ‘This Land Is Your Land,’ and the audience sang along. Through our tears, our hopeful strength, our determined smiles, we were together — one voice.”

Among those who joined family farmers in the concert’s spotlight that year were first responders who had been at the sites of the attacks in New York, Washington, D.C., and in Pennsylvania. They were, Willie says “crucial resources and pillars of strength for all of us.”

After the concert, family farmers drove from Indiana to New York to donate food they had raised to feed firefighters, policemen, EMTs and volunteers at Ground Zero.

“The destruction of the World Trade towers,” says the singer, “sparked a treasured relationship between Farm Aid and the organizers and farmers of New York City’s Greenmarkets.”

Recalling the days after the attacks in which Americans pulled together to help each other out, Willie concludes by writing: “As we face the challenges before us now, it is my hope that we all remember that spirit, take a cue from family farmers and their know-how, and come together again to rediscover our strength.”

Farm Aid 2011 was held last month in Kansas City, Kansas. To learn more about the Farm Aid organization and their mission, visit www.farmaid.org. Read Willie’s entire essay for the Huffington Post here.

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