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While words cannot adequately describe the memorable time I had with my wife in Branson, MO during its Veterans Week (November 5 – 11, 2009) ... I hope my thoughts about some of it will convey a sense of our wonderful patriotic and entertaining experience.

November 5, 2009 – A Very Patriotic, Entertaining First Day
T
he first day began with Branson Week's free two plus hour opening ceremony at the Mansion Theatre ... with one of my all time favorite country music groups, The Oak Ridge Boys, leading the audience of veterans, troops, loved ones, and fellow patriots in the singing of the National Anthem. They were followed by many of the artists who perform daily in their respective Branson shows ... with many performing in their own show later in the day or night.                       Note... Click on an image below to see larger version in new window
 

David Bancroft, Founder of USA Patriotism!
David G. Bancroft

Branson, MO (November 5, 2009) - David Bancroft (founder of USA Patriotism!) with the great country music group, Oak Ridge Boys (Richard Sterban, Joe Bonsall, Duane Allen, and William Lee Golden), before their main performance on the first day of Branson Veterans Week. The Oak Ridge Boys also performed earlier in the day during the opening ceremony.We also had the honor of meeting The Oak Ridge Boys before their very entertaining show later that night, which has evolved into more since then ... including them being recognized in Stars There For The Troops. (The Oak Ridge Boys are a must see . . . and they sing several songs from their great patriotic Colors CD.)

November 6, 2009 – World War II Veterans and More
Having fathers who served in World War II made our attendance to the WWII Veterans Mini Reunion at the College of the Ozarks (a few miles south of Branson) on a very special, rewarding visit. Many of the veterans who went on a trip to Normandy for the D-Day ceremony with their College of the Ozarks student escorts were present.

The reunion included the viewing of the Connecting Generations documentary covering these two College of the Ozarks' students pose with many of the World War II vets they assisted in their memorable 2009 Normandy D-Day trip. (Sgt. Majors Michael Dudley and Joanne Snyder who recognized the students on behalf of the Secretary of the U.S. Army are on respective ends of the photo.)generations' trip. It has many touching scenes, words from the WWII veterans about their days back then, and gracious thoughts from the students on their unique experience. I hope all Americans, especially the younger ones, see this “powerful learning and travel experience” documentary created by College of the Ozarks in partnership with The Greatest Generations Foundation . . . Two Sergeant Majors on behalf of the Secretary of the U.S. Army also recognized the students for accompanying these warriors of America's greatest generation.

Branson, MO (November 6, 2009) - David Bancroft (founder of USA Patriotism!) with World War II and Vietnam War veterans ... David Swalby, Bob Ekman, Lewis Ahrens, Clifton Gordon (93), Benny Mulkey, Larry Haste, and Ernest Grimes.After the ceremony, I had the privilege of meeting many of them ... and having photos taken with some of them along with several Vietnam Veterans, who had their own mini reunion. I will always fondly remember this day, as I was in the company of my father and father-in-law's brothers-in-arms.

November 8, 2009 – Remembering Fallen Troops
We attended the solemn ceremony recognizing the fallen troops from Missouri by the Military Order of the Purple Heart at the Starlite Theatre in Branson. It was very heart grabbing to see the parents, wives, and other family members go up the stage to receive a memorial plaque with the photo of their loved one ... who made the ultimate sacrifice for our beloved, great country.

David Bancroft (founder of USA Patriotism!) signs his poem, Tears For Your Fallen, for the father of fallen Marine Alex Page, who made the ultimate sacrifice in Iraq (2003).I was also honored by the reading of my poem, Tears For Your Fallen, at the Purple Heart memorial service for the fallen ... and the family members receiving a copy of it. I even had the privilege of signing my poem for the father of a fallen Marine, Alex Page, who was serving in Iraq the same time (2003) my youngest son, a fellow Marine, was and where Alex was killed in action. (His father proudly told me about his son's brave service and that he had been wounded on three separate occasions before the fatal fourth one ... Only two words come to mind then and now... Semper Fi!)

November 9, 2009 - Rose Petals Ceremony for Fallen Women in the Military
We returned to the College of the Ozarks for the Rose Petals ceremony that honored all the fallen women of the armed services. Women from each military service spoke movingly about their fallen sisters.

November 9, 2009 - David Bancroft (founder of USA Patriotism!) with Rose Petal keynote speaker, Dr. Elizabeth Sharp who is a U.S. Army veteran and an intricate part of Dr. Clarice Fluitt's ministry. Her speech honored all the women who have paid the ultimate sacrifice to America while serving in the military.Following them was the keynote speaker Dr. Elizabeth Sharp, who is a U.S. Army veteran and an intricate part of Dr. Clarice Fluitt's ministry. Her speech honored all the women who have paid the ultimate sacrifice to America while serving in the military. She also brilliantly discussed the cost of freedom as we now experience it and reminded all about its continued defense against all who wish to end it.

Then all attendees including a local female World War II veteran placed several rose petals in the water of a creek fountain in front of The Keeter Center . . . honoring the memory of the ultimate sacrifice paid by these women.

November 10, 2009 – Proud Parents Attend the Marine Corps Ball
Being the proud parents of a now Marine veteran ... we were really looking forward to attending the Marine Corps Ball at the Hilton Convention Center Hotel this day. It was even more than what we expected ... and truly exemplified the traditions of what it means to be a Marine.  I hope every parent of active and veteran Marines will do the same ... as being there is the only way to fully relate to our feelings then and the lasting memory of it, which he hope to experience a few more times in the future.

David Bancroft (founder of USA Patriotism!) shakes the hand of Lt. Col. Oliver North after giving the decorated Marine veteran, former Presidential advisor, and Fox media personality a framed, signed printing of his poem, The U.S. Marines at the Marine Corps 234th Birthday Ball in Branson, MO. Oliver North was embedded with David Bancroft youngest son's Marines unit during the early stages of Iraq War in 2003 . . . where a photo was taken of them shaking hands.I even had the honor of meeting Ret. Colonel Oliver North; presented him a framed signed printing of my poem, The U.S. Marines; and, had a photo taken with us shaking hands. Now, there are two photos of Bancrofts shaking the Col. North's hand ... the other one was taken in 2003 when North was embedded with my son's Marine unit in Iraq . . . And I gladly signed printings of my poem for several other Marine veterans including General Dake, who is the chairman of the regents for the College of the Ozarks.

My wife and I also met again with Joe Bonsall and Duane Allen of The Oak Ridge Boys before they sang the National Anthem . . . and hearing these four men sing our county's song makes one very proud of being an American.

November 11, 2009 – Veterans Day Parade and Closing Ceremonies
The Veterans Day parade was a perfect way to honor all the veterans in Branson as most Vietnam War veterans proudly march with Old Glory along with the POW flag and their service flag during the Veterans Day parade in Branson, MO on November 11, 2001. The parade punctuated a week long tribute to veterans in Branson with many events including for the greatest generation of World War II.were either in the parade or watching it along its path . . . It gave my wife and me the opportunity to thank more veterans of different generations for the brave, honorable military service and safeguarding our freedom and rights that too many Americans take for granted with a sense of entitlement ... which are due to what the veterans did and our troops are doing to preserve them.

Following the parade, there were two closing ceremonies...

Patriot, entertainer Tony Orlando expresses his love and support of the troops and veterans at an event during Veterans Week in Branson, MO on November 7, 2009.One hosted by Tony Orlando, who is a real patriot and strong supporter of the troops and veterans. This one has many of the stars performing along with Tony Orlando and sells out well before the start of Veterans Week. So, we hope to attend it on our next Veterans Week visit. (Tony Orlando is another one like Bob Hope, Wayne Newton, and Gary Sinise when it comes to supporting troops and veterans.)

The other one is actually the official closing ceremony associated with Veterans Week that is put together by the tireless volunteer members of the Branson Veterans Task Force. And many of the top artists performed here at the Starlite Theatre who either went to or from Tony Orlando's closing ceremony after their respective performance.

Standing Ovation to The Performers and Other Volunteers
While my wife and I had the opportunity in the evenings and on a few afternoons to enjoy shows by other great performers besides The Oak Ridge Boys and Tony Orlando, I unfortunately don't have the names of all the performers and will not list the rest of those we saw to avoid slighting others ... with the following special exceptions due to personal reasons.

Dalena Ditto... She was the hostess for the opening and closing ceremonies that I attended along with beingNovember 11, 2009 - David Bancroft (founder of USA Patriotism!) with Dalena Ditto, the host of the Branson Veterans Week closing ceremony at the Starlite Theatre. Dalena, who is a wonderful, country music artist, also hosted the opening ceremony. involved at several other events including one honoring women veterans. She is a wonderful country singer who performs classical and current songs with a great stage presence and interacts with the audience with humor and more. Dalena also introduced me to her audience, allowing me tell them about USA Patriotism! and being my life's mission since 2002. She wore several great patriotic outfits too. Thanks Dalena!

Country music artists Barbara Fairchild and her husband, Roy Morris, sing a patriotic song during the Branson Veterans Week opening ceremony on November 5, 2009. These two patriotic performers participated in many other veterans week events through November 11, 2009 including providing the use of their Starlite Theatre, where the Ranking Brothers also perform.Barbara Fairchild and Roy Morris... These two country singers are married and show it entertainingly when performing together. They also dressed their patriotic best during the opening ceremony. However, it is what they did behind the scenes including allowing the use of their Starlite Theatre on several events including three we attended on three separate days.

My wife and I were able to spend some enjoyable time with Barbara and Roy, who still owe me a photo with them when dressed in their patriotic outfits ... grin. (Barbara had a huge number one song, “The Teddy Bear Song”, in 1973 that remains a classic.)

David Bancroft (founder of USA Patriotism!) with Branson Veterans Task Force member volunteers... Dawn Easton, owner of God and Country Theater, Barbara Riggle, Air Force Ret. MSgt (Indiana Air National Guard), and Carole McAlister, Air Force veteran at the Veteran's Village on November 9, 2009.And all the other volunteers who made Branson Veterans Week a success deserve a standing ovation, as well, for their noble efforts including those spending many hours at the Veterans Village.  (It was nice meeting many of them too.)

A Few Misses and A Touch of Christmas
There were misses too ... with a lingering regret on discovering afterwards that the Gold Star Mothers' event occurred when we were at another one. I will definitely attend the Gold Star Mothers' event on subsequent Veteran Week visits, as I know several Gold Star moms.  (We also have more performers we would like to see including a couple of our favorites that we missed on this time.)

During Veterans Week in Branson, MO ... the official start of the city's Christmas season is celebrated with a parade, where many veterans and loved ones attend, who are treated to Christmas songs performed by many of the entertainers in Branson... including Mr. Christmas, Andy Williams (pictured here). And while Christmas is the theme for the live shows, each show / performer honors the veterans (and troops) in their own respective way. Veterans and all who visit Branson during this week are treated with 100% patriotism and a wonderful touch of Christmas ... a great American experience!Oh yeah, the Christmas season starts in Branson during Veterans Week with its star filled Christmas parade that included performances by Mr. Christmas, Andy Williams.  So, you will also enjoy a very patriotic, Christmas atmosphere including Christmas songs by singers in the second hour of their shows ... A great American experience!

Photos of Veterans Week and Next Year
I hope that you will now take the time to experience all the photos of Branson Veterans Week 2009. And mark your calendar to visit Branson during all or part of Branson Veterans Week 2010 and subsequent years.

David G. Bancroft
Founder / Owner
USA Patriotism!
Copyright 2009
Other articles about Branson...
Branson Is For Everyone  |  Entertainment, Fun, and Patriotism in Branson

Poem about Branson > In The Heart Of America
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