Friends, family and fans gathered to lay Charlie Daniels to rest in a public memorial service Friday, which took place at World Outreach Church in Murfreesboro, Tennessee.

The service began with a reading of the Pledge of Allegiance, and was hosted by radio DJ Storme Warren. “I’m staring at this casket wondering how a man bigger than life can fit in there. I don’t see how,” Storme commented at the outset of the service.

Daniels’ flag-adorned casket rested in front of the stage, along with a pair of cowboy boots.

Charlie was honored for his patriotism, his convictions, his unwavering faith and his rich musical legacy. Trace Adkins, Travis Tritt and Gretchen Wilson all performed, delivering personal tributes like Trace’s original, “Arlington,” as well as Travis’ rendition of the traditional spiritual “Amazing Grace.”

Vince Gill performed a short medley, beginning with his classic “Go Rest High on That Mountain” before transitioning into a rendition of “America the Beautiful.” Before his musical segment, he shared a story about meeting Charlie during his early days as a musician, and how his relationship with the older artist helped give him the confidence to strike out as a solo performer.

“When you’re a kid and somebody’s kind to you, somebody reaches out, you never forget it. That was Charlie,” Vince said from the stage. “Over the years we would always run into each other. He was one of those guys you were always grateful to see.”

Charlie died July 6 at the age of 83 of a hemorrhagic stroke. In lieu of flowers, the family has requested that fans make a donation to The Journey Home Project, a non-profit co-founded by Charlie in 2014 that benefits war veterans.

By Carena Liptak
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