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Op-Ed: Country Music Is Always There for Us — Now We Need to Be There for It

“Where words fail, music speaks.”

In times of tragedy and trouble, music — specifically country music — is always there for its fans. At funerals, we play the deceased’s favorite songs. Powerful lyrics help those who have lost a loved one, dealt with a devastating medical diagnosis and felt heartbreak. Alan Jackson won an ACM, a CMA and a Grammy after penning “Where Were You (When the World Stopped Turning)” following 9/11.

Now, it’s time for the fans to be there for country music.

In the wake of Sunday night’s (Oct. 1) shooting at the 2017 Route 91 Harvest Festival, during which 59 people were killed and more than 500 people were injured when a gunman, positioned in a Mandalay Bay hotel room above the festival grounds, it would be easy to let sadness destroy the love that country music fans feel for the genre. It would be understandable to let fear keep people from attending concerts and festivals. It wouldn’t be surprising if the artists and festival organizers involved decided to hang up their cowboy hats for a while.

It’s more important, though, for the country music community to not do those things. Instead, we need to be there for each other — to support those who are hurting, yes, but to show the world that we don’t back down. We’ve done it plenty of times before: In the past month alone, country music artists and fans have united in support of Montgomery Gentry and their loved ones following Troy Gentry’s tragic death in a helicopter crash, and to help those affected by a number of heavy-hitting hurricanes. The Route 91 Harvest Festival tragedy feels bigger than both of those things, which is why it’s more important than ever to come together.

Country Stars Respond Following Route 91 Harvest Festival Shooting

Artists have already been encouraging their fans to do it: Luke Combs is among the artists saying that they won’t cancel tour dates or let fear affect them. Kelsea Ballerini is asking fans to perform small acts of kindness in honor of those killed. Even Jason Aldean, who was performing when the shooting began, says that when he and his crew return to the stage, they will get through it because they will be doing so together.

Listen to them. Give money. Donate blood. Comfort those struggling to cope with what this all means. Simply open up your eyes, your heart and your mind to those around you.

Even more than that, however, get back out there. Put on your favorite album or playlist and sing along loudly. Buy those tickets to that concert or festival. Bring your friends, and make some new ones when you get there. Dance and clap and cheer. Have the time of your life.

You can — and perhaps should — be a little bit wary. You can shed a tear or two. But you can’t not go.

Experiencing live music is a sacred experience. Thousands of people coming together to celebrate and enjoy it will always be more powerful than one person trying to take it away.

Editor’s Note: The Boot has spent this week, since the news of the Route 91 Harvest Festival shooting broke, covering the tragedy and, for the most part, putting other news on the back burner. Going forward, we will continue to cover new developments in the shooting investigation and other stories related to the incident, but we will also resume our regular news coverage. As this op-ed says, we all need to get back out there.

Remembering the Route 91 Harvest Festival Shooting Victims

NEXT: The Latest on the Route 91 Harvest Festival Shooting

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