We're all used to seeing rocker Gene Simmons dressed as a demon onstage with KISS, breathing fire and letting fake blood drip from his famous tongue.
Photo by Kevin Mazur/Getty Images
But last week, Simmons visited the Pentagon and presented a far more subdued image — and offered words that just might earn him a few more fans.
Simmons was promoting military service as part of the Pentagon's public relations push #Knowyourmil, McClatchy reported. But he also spoke about his mother who died recently at the age of 93 — and how she loved America.
"I'm a proud son of a concentration camp survivor of Nazi Germany," Simmons began, stopping a number of times to compose himself as defense personnel listened in the Pentagon briefing room. "My mother was 14 when she was in the camps."
A late-night revelation
Simmons — who was born in Israel — recalled that when his family first came to America, his mother worked six days a week and let him stay up late to watch TV with her. Simmons couldn't understand much of what was said on the screen, but he remembered that when stations signed off at midnight, a U.S. flag filled the black-and-white screen — and the national anthem was played.
"Every time my mother saw the flag, she'd start crying," Simmons said, his voice breaking.
He continued, noting that "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 ... we need to teach young people to be comfortable with saying 'God bless America.'"
Gene Simmons fights back tears talking about how much his late mother loved America youtu.be