(May 26, 2019; New York, NY) - It's being called the official pinnacle event of Fleet Week 2019. SIDE BY SIDE: A CELEBRATION OF SERVICE™, a two-part event honoring thousands of service members started at Rockefeller Center and ended at Radio City Music Hall with an unforgettable performance by Imagine Dragons.
Before the show, the crowd was shown a short film interviewing service members, telling their stories. One in particular was of Navy veteran Dusty Kirby. More than 10 years ago he was caught in gunfire, shattering his jaw. The doctors at Northwell Health reconstructed his jaw, giving him his smile (and life) back.
As soon as the film ended, a figure walked out on stage to introduce Imagine Dragons. Who better than Dusty Kirby himself. It was an emotional moment that got a standing ovation.
The lights dimmed and GRAMMY Award-winning, multi-platinum band Imagine Dragons took the stage. They opened with a few of their well-known tunes like Believer, It's Time and Whatever It Takes. Dan Reynolds' voice was pitch perfect and his energy, which only got stronger as the night went on, was contagious.
From time to time, there was a story before the song, usually explaining where they got the lyrics from. Dan asked if there were any kids under 10 in the audience and said... "There are many young ones out there thinking of being artists. If you want to do art, do NOT do art. If you NEED to do it, if it pulls you every single day, if you want to sing, if you want to express yourself, if you NEED to do art, then you MUST do art. We need you, we need your art, we need you to come out to share your experience with us." He went on to say that he was lost in middle school and art was his lifeboat. He would come home from school, sit by the piano and write words that meant something to him...to express himself. And that's how he came to write "Zero", which was also featured on the soundtrack to "Ralph Breaks the Internet".
Northwell Health provided free tickets to hundreds of service members and their families. Throughout the night, Dan Reynolds would reach out into the crowd, giving them a high-five or shaking their hands and thanking them for their service. He said more than once how "this was the audience that means the most" and this night was the most meaningful for them to perform. It was gratifying to see the servicemen and women standing in the first few rows truly enjoying themselves. They deserved it!
The rest of the setlist included songs such as Shots, Yesterday and Start Over and ended on a high note with "On Top Of The World" and "Radioactive".
The celebration started earlier in the day at Rockefeller Plaza. Hosted by Alfonso Ribeiro, it included performances by Boyz II Men, Gavin DeGraw, Alex Boyé, Rock Star Karaoke, The U.S. Navy Band, and cast members from Jersey Boys and Wicked.
For more on Side By Side please visit SideBySideNYC.com.
Photo Credit: Courtesy of Northwell Health
“Northwell was honored to stand with those who have given so much of themselves to this great nation, which was especially fitting over Memorial Day weekend,” said Michael Dowling, President & CEO of Northwell Health, who more than a decade ago created Northwell’s Office of Military and Veterans Liaison Services. “It is our privilege and responsibility to continue our ongoing support to veterans and their families, including both medical care and behavioral health treatment for those struggling with PTSD. As a proud employer of thousands of veterans, we also remain committed to recruiting and assisting newly returned veterans trying to find a job and acclimate back into civilian life.”