Stephen Colbert was deeply affected by the week he spent in Iraq in 2009 with his Comedy Central series “The Colbert Report.”
Colbert reflected on that experience on Thursday night when he and Willie Geist of NBC’s “Today” co-hosted the ninth annual Heroes gala fundraiser for the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America service org. Colbert rushed to the event at Cipriani 42nd Street straight from taping Thursday’s edition of CBS’ “The Late Show.”
Colbert spoke of his respect and admiration for those who have served and the conditions they endure. Going to Iraq “was a moving experience for me,” he told the packed crowd. In classic Colbert form he added: “To this day, when I want to recapture that one week, I fill my mouth with sand and squat in a kiln.”
The gala’s honorees included former Army Sgt. Daniel Rodriguez and Polaris Industries CEO Scott Wine, who received the org’s Civilian Leadership Award. Colbert received the same kudo from IAVA in 2011.
The event began with a stirring rendition of the national anthem by J.W. Cortes, a former Marine who is now a regular on the Fox drama “Gotham.”