Rock legend Gene Simmons made a surprise appearance at the Pentagon on May 16, sharing with reporters how his mother was a concentration camp survivor who eventually made her way to America.
“I’m a proud son of a concentration camp survivor of Nazi Germany. My mother was 14 when she was in the camps,” he said. “My mother just passed at 93. But if Americans could see and hear my mother talk about America, they would understand.”
He noted that his mother was 14 years old when she was thrown into a concentration camp in Germany when Adolf Hitler was in power.
He said that the family lived in Israel when he was born but moved to America when he was young. His mother, he said, would work six days a week, but every evening they’d sit down and watch the news. And every night, the national anthem would play as a jet flew through the air.
Instead of a more “rock on”-type vibe, Simmons choked back tears as he told the room how his mother was 14 when she was put in a Nazi concentration camp, survived, gave birth to him in Israel and came to America.
— Tara Copp (@TaraCopp) May 16, 2019
@genesimmons graciously came to the Pentagon press room today to shake hands and say thank you to troops. He spoke about the values his mother instilled in him about America. So in the last year, the leader of @KISSOnline and @GerardButler…..who else should show up soon…… pic.twitter.com/pmU4562Wad
— Barbara Starr (@barbarastarrcnn) May 16, 2019
“And every time my mother saw the flag, she’d start crying,” he said. “As an 8-year-old boy, I didn’t understand why, but from my mother’s point of view, we were finally safe.”
“I may have been born in the country that people throughout history have referred to as the Promised Land, but take my word for it—America is the Promised Land, for everybody. And don’t be ashamed, don’t hesitate,” he added. “We need to teach young people to be comfortable with saying ‘God bless America.’ End of my story.”
Simmons visited the Pentagon as part of its #KnowYourMil initiative, which aims to foster communication, understanding, and respect for the U.S. military.
“What a privilege it was to meet an American icon who has such love for country, family, and our military,” said Anne Joiner, acting principal deputy assistant to the secretary of defense for public affairs. “We appreciate Gene and his wife, Shannon, for taking the time to visit with us and express such gratitude for the service and sacrifice of our men and women in uniform.”
— Sean Doody (@swdoody) May 16, 2019
So unexpected moment at the Pentagon, just saw Gene Simmons of Kiss fame speak to Defense Department personnel in the Pentagon Press Briefing room. He gave a touching and deeply personal speech about his mother and her love of America
— Ryan Browne (@rabrowne75) May 16, 2019
Simmons, best known for fronting the band KISS, was a former contestant on President Donald Trump’s show “Celebrity Apprentice.”
In 2017, Simmons told Loudwire that Trump had invited him to the White House but he wasn’t able to fit a trip into his schedule.
“I do have a piece of advice for everybody—stop picking on each other and arguing with each other. It’s just politics … Stop fighting amongst each other, because we’re supposed to be one country. You will have the power the next time you go to the voting booth. Draw the curtains—it’s nobody’s damn business who you vote for—and vote your conscience,” he said.
It wasn’t clear whether Simmons met with Trump on Thursday.