Military balls represent time-honored customs, elegance, celebration and remembrance, and what better way to pay tribute to the sacrifices our military has made than to host an all ranks ball with celebrity guests.
The Army's 3rd Infantry Division's 3rd Brigade Support Battalion from Fort Stewart hit the jackpot of celebrity guests for its upcoming all ranks ball with Emmy Award-winning actor Keith David ("Platoon," "ATL," "Crash" and "Armageddon") and actor Michelle Rodriguez ("Fast & Furious," "Lost" and "Avatar").
David will serve as the evening's guest speaker while Rodriguez will show off her trademark spinning skills as the event's guest DJ.
The ball will be Aug. 16 at the Hyatt Regency on Bay Street and social hour begins at 5:30 p.m.
Army Maj. Jennifer Vail, 3rd BSB Executive Officer, said the celebrity attention the ball has been receiving is a "special gift" to all 443 soldiers attached to the unit and their families.
"I'm super excited," Vail said. "This has been described as the 'ball of all balls.' It's so great to finally have everyone back together and to have a chance to really celebrate with everyone."
The soldiers and their families aren't the only ones excited about the ball.
David said he plans to be the last person to leave at the end of the evening.
"I had a friend ask me if I was interested in being the guest speaker and I said, 'Of course,'" David said. "I am known for my interest in the military. I've done several military films, I am the voice for the Navy commercials, I have friends in the military, I have family in the military. My life has been touched greatly by the military."
David admitted he isn't sure what he will say to the audience, but he knows what message he plans to bring.
"I will say I am grateful for their service. It's not an easy gig. There is controversy surrounding these wars - it's become very controversial. I think they should be commended for their service.
"I want them to know my prayers are with them always. My prayers are with the families who have lost someone. My stepfather was a World War II vet. I have great respect for the people who serve this country. I give praise to God for those who come back; it's no easy task."
Despite convincing roles as a soldier, he said he has never served in the military.
"I never saw myself as a military man, but after I did 'Platoon,' I learned a new respect for what war is like and what it can do to you," he said.
"I perform in a show called 'Theater of War' and I've toured with them. We read the Sophocles plays that were written thousands of years ago. Athens had been at war for so many years, and everyone who lived during that time was touched by war."
"Theater of War" is a performance created by Bryan Doerris that travels to military bases around the country as a public health project to help service members and relatives overcome stigmas associated with psychological traumas. The oral presentation of the plays portray the story that even the bravest heroes suffered from battle.
"These shows are performed for military families and soldiers ... It's been a great tool. Sophocles knew what he was talking about. The plays emphasize the help people need to seek.
"It's not easy to come back from war and deal with PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) or other issues. It's hard for people to come back from war and see some of the things people take for granted, like freedom. 'Theater of War' is meant to help with understanding and patience."
David is hoping to have time to tour some of the local bases and meet with soldiers while in Savannah, but he admitted his time is limited due to the filming schedule of his new military-themed sitcom, "Enlisted," which will air on Fox in the fall.
"Enlisted" highlights a job rarely mentioned by the media: rear detachment, referred to as Rear D. These are the men and women in the military who stay on base during deployments to keep the base running and to support family members who are left at home while their spouses are deployed.
Vail said she has seen the trailers for "Enlisted" and cannot wait to meet David in person to discuss the show.
"I joined 3rd BSB in mid-January and the unit had already deployed to Afghanistan in November, so I was on Rear D," Vail said. "I appreciate the humor of the show. I saw the trailer and said, 'That's us!' It makes us feel another connection to David and it will be great to meet him in person and hear what he has to say.
"The purpose of the 3BSB Ball is to celebrate the reintegration of Rear D to our deployed soldiers and for us to all finally have everyone back together as a unit."
David said portraying the life of soldiers on Rear D was not lost on him as an actor.
"It's an important job because they are tasked with taking care of soldiers' families while they are away," David said. "One thing no one wants to do is worry about your family while you are away. Rear D is important - they take care of the families so our guys and gals can do their job."