Amid the celebrations Saturday night (Oct. 8) marking the Grand Ole Opry's 86th birthday, the venerable Nashville music hall welcomed three new members: Gary LeVox, Jay DeMarcus and Joe Don Rooney -- better known as Rascal Flatts.

The trio was inducted by fellow Opry member Little Jimmy Dickens, and prior to taking the stage, Joe Don recalled a conversation he'd had with his father earlier in the day.

"I remember when I was growing up, I would watch the Grand Ole Opry on TV," he said. "He remembers when he was growing up listening to it on the radio. Now here we are in the year 2011 watching and listening online... We are humbled by this and can't wait to see what the future has in store for us and the Grand Ole Opry."

Rascal Flatts' induction was part of an Opry birthday bash televised live on GAC: Great American Country.

The Ohio group obviously has a lot of supporters in the country-music world, but it's most famous fan may well be President George W. Bush, who surprised the band with a video tribute. In particular, he praised the musicians for their charitable work.

"We are big fans of Gary, Jay, and Joe Don," he said, speaking for both himself and former First Lady Laura Bush. "We love their music, and we also love their compassion and generosity. Throughout their success, Rascal Flatts have given back to their community and to our country by supporting the Make A Wish Foundation, Vanderbilt Children's Hospital, and the American Red Cross. I am especially proud of their efforts to honor the men and women of our armed forces, and the heroes who are wounded on the front lines."

"So thanks for your example of excellence and patriotism," he added. "And congratulations as well as a hardy welcome to the Opry."

Watch Rascal Flatts' Grand Ole Opry Induction

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