December 29, 2006 These pictures are from a dinner held in Gene's honor at the base. Gene was presented with an "Iron Mike" Award. The "Iron Mike" that Gene received is a mini replica of the statute that stands in Ft. Bragg. In the past four decades, the statue has become the unofficial symbol of Ft. Bragg. This magnificent statue stands as a tribute to that "Special spirit and indomitable courage" which marks the "Airborne Trooper" as among the world's finest combat soldier. Message from Gene Simmons: I had the distinct honor of being invited to Ft. Bragg. While there, I was emotionally overwhelmed by the dedication and loyalty I saw in the eyes of our troops. They were not there to debate politics. They simply believed they had to do something, instead of just talking about it, the way the rest of us do. They volunteered for service!!! I was awestruck when I visited the base's hospital. There, I met and talked with young people who had been injured -- some, very seriously. I heard no complaints. I saw no remorse. I saw pride. Later that evening, I was feted at a dinner, attended by Military Staff and members of our armed forces. After all the speech-making, I had a chance to have one-on-one conversations with young people from all areas of America. And, when I left, I realized something very important. These are the young people that make it possible for all of you to have the debate about the war -- about our President -- about this Nation and where it's going. It doesn't matter where you stand on issues. This is America and you have the right to disagree. But, you also have the obligation, when you see a member of our Armed Forces pass by, to straighten your back, look in their eyes, thrust out your hand to shake theirs -- and to say a kind word. Remember, they didn't volunteer for service to get attention, to become famous, or to make money. They volunteered because they believe in America. A lesson for all of us.