Category Archives: Veterans

‘Branson Veterans Homecoming Week’ honors America’s Veterans from the heart

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“Honoring America’s Veterans, those currently serving in its Armed Forces, and their families for their service and sacrifice is an inherent part of what Branson is,” said Annette Wood, the Director of Sales and Marketing for the Branson Tourism Center. “Even by Branson standards however, ‘Branson Veterans Homecoming Week’ is special,” she added.

The annual event is one of the, if not the biggest, Veterans Day tributes in America, and is celebrated from November 5 through November 11. It features dozens of events all keyed toward honoring those who have served our nation and sacrificed so much.

The following is a schedule of most of the major events sorted chronologically and by starting time. A telephone number or link is included to provide access to additional information on specific events:

November 5, 2015

0900 – 1600 Veteran Registry, Tactical Operations & Vendor Village, 417-337-0563
0900 – 1530 Veterans Events & Reunions Registry Mill Craft Village, 417-230-2278
0900 – 1800 Day Room 9am – 6pm at Ballparks of America, 417-337-8387
0900    Walls of Heroes – Ballparks of America, 417-337-8387
1000 – 1800 Vietnam Veterans Traveling Memorial Wall opens at Welk Resort, 417-336-3575
1130 – 1330 Mess Hall Lunch at Ballparks of America, 417-337-8387
1400    Vets for Vets Celebration Show” at the Baldknobbers Theatre

November 6, 2015

0700    Reveille at Ballparks of America, 417-337-8387
0800 – 1800 Vietnam Veterans Traveling Memorial Wall at Welk Resort, 417-336-3575
0800    POW/MIA Service of Remembrance, Vietnam Wall at Welk Resort, 417-336-4232
0830    IMAX Military Film Festival “Ghost Army,” 417-335-3533
0900 – 1600 Veteran Registry, Tactical Operations & Vendor Village 417-337-0563
0900 – 1530 Veterans Events & Reunions Registry Mill Craft Village – 417-230-2278
0900 – 1800 Day Room 9am – 6pm at Ballparks of America, 417-337-8387
0900    Walls of Heroes – Ballparks of America, 417-337-8387
1000    Fourth Annual Navy Memorial at Golden Corral
1100    Veterans Grove Tree Dedication, College of the Ozarks
1130 – 1330 Mess Hall Lunch at Ballparks of America, 417-337-8387
1700    Retreat at Ballparks of America, 417-337-8387

November 7, 2015

0700    Reveille at Ballparks of America, 417-337-8387
0800 – 1800 Vietnam Veterans Traveling Memorial Wall at Welk Resort, 417-336-3575
0830    Veterans Sporting Clay Shoot, Ozarks Shooter Complex
0830    IMAX Military Film Festival “We Answered the Call: Building the Crown Jewel of Afghanistan,” 417-335-3533
0900 – 1600 Veteran Registry, Tactical Operations & Vendor Village 417-337-0563
0900 – 1530 Veterans Events & Reunions Registry Mill Craft Village – 417-230-2278
0900 – 1800 Day Room 9am – 6pm at Ballparks of America, 417-337-8387
0900    Walls of Heroes at Ballparks of America, 417-337-8387
1000    Musical Fun with Twang, Veterans Military Museum
1130 – 1330 Mess Hall Lunch at Ballparks of America, 417-337-83871200
1200    West Plains High School Marching Band “Veterans Tribute,” Branson Landing
1400 – 1800 4th Infantry Division Social, Savannah House Hotel
1400    Musical Fun with Twang, Veterans Military Museum
1600    Women Veterans Mini Reunion at Stone Castle Hotel & Conference Center
1700    Retreat at Ballparks of America, 417-337-8387
1900    Memorial Service for Lost Submarine/Tolling of the Bells, Branson Landing

November 8, 2015

0700    Reveille at Ballparks of America, 417-337-8387
0800 – 1800 Vietnam Veterans Traveling Memorial Wall at Welk Resort, 417-336-3575
0900 – 1600 Veteran Registry, Tactical Operations & Vendor Village 417-337-0563
0900 – 1530 Veterans Events & Reunions Registry Mill Craft Village – 417-230-2278
0900 – 1800 Day Room 9am – 6pm at Ballparks of America, 417-337-8387
0900    Walls of Heroes at Ballparks of America, 417-337-8387
1000 – 1200 Vietnam Veterans Mini Reunion, Clay Cooper Theatre
1000    Tribute to Veterans Sunday Worship, Doug Gabriel Theatre
1130 – 1330 Mess Hall Lunch at Ballparks of America, 417-337-8387
1200 – 1400 12th Annual Tribute to Women Veterans & Rose Petal Ceremony, Clarion Hotel & Conference Center
1400 – 1600 Gold, Silver & Blue Star Mothers Afternoon Dessert, Shindigs
1700    Retreat at Ballparks of America, 417-337-8387

November 9, 2015

0700    Reveille at Ballparks of America, 417-337-8387
0800 – 1800 Vietnam Veterans Traveling Memorial Wall at Welk Resort, 417-336-3575
0830    IMAX Military Film Festival “We Answered the Call: Building the Crown Jewel of Afghanistan,” 417-335-3533
0900 – 1600 Veteran Registry, Tactical Operations & Vendor Village 417-337-0563
0900 – 1530 Veterans Events & Reunions Registry Mill Craft Village – 417-230-2278
0900 – 1800 Day Room 9am – 6pm at Ballparks of America, 417-337-8387
0900    Walls of Heroes at Ballparks of America, 417-337-8387
1000    Transition Assistance at Military & BB Gun Museum, 417-239-0719
1130 – 1330 Mess Hall Lunch at Ballparks of America, 417-337-8387
1400 – 1700 Korean War Veterans Mini Reunion, Stone Castle Hotel & Conference Center
1700 – 2300 19th Annual Military Gala & Banquet, Chateau on the Lake
1700    Retreat at Ballparks of America, 417-337-8387
1900    Flag Retirement Ceremony, Veterans Memorial Museum

November 10, 2015

0700    Reveille at Ballparks of America, 417-337-8387
0800 – 1800 Vietnam Veterans Traveling Memorial Wall at Welk Resort, 417-336-3575
0830    IMAX Military Film Festival “Honoring The Valley of the Tears,” 417-335-3533
0900 – 1600 Veteran Registry, Tactical Operations & Vendor Village 417-337-0563
0900 – 1530 Veterans Events & Reunions Registry Mill Craft Village – 417-230-2278
0900 – 1800 Day Room 9am – 6pm at Ballparks of America, 417-337-8387
0900    Wal-Mart Tribute to Veterans, Oak Ridge Boys Theatre
0900    Walls of Heroes at Ballparks of America, 417-337-8387
1100    Celebrity Waiter Fundraiser, Doc’s Hickory Roadhouse
1130 – 1330 Mess Hall Lunch at Ballparks of America, 417-337-8387
1400    Railway to Heaven, Royal Oak Auditorium, Keeter Center, College of the Ozarks
1500 – 1700 15th Anniversary Celebration of the Veterans Memorial Museum, Veterans Memorial Museum
1700    Retreat at Ballparks of America, 417-337-8387
2100    Railway to Heaven, Jones Auditorium College of the Ozarks

November 11, 2015

0700    Flag Raising/Wreath Laying Ceremony, Main Flag Pole, Chapel Lawn, College of the Ozarks
0800 – 1800 Vietnam Veterans Traveling Memorial Wall at Welk Resort, 417-336-3575
0830    IMAX Military Film Festival “Honoring The Valley of the Tears,” 417-335-3533
1100    82nd Annual Veterans Day Parade in historic downtown Branson, 417-239-6511
1700    All Hands on Deck! Show, Branson Star Theater
1700 – 2000 Free Golden Corral Dinner for Veterans, Golden Corral

For information or tickets for any of Branson’s shows and attractions, or for lodging arrangements, please contact the Branson Tourism Center by calling 1-800-785-1550 or through its website, www.BransonTourismCenter.com.

Blessing or luck, crew of the ‘Lucky Lady’ celebrates 70th Annual Reunion

Crew members of the U.S.S Sante Fe attending its 70th Annual Reunion, ictured from left to right, with ages in parens, are Richard Champagne, 91; Clifford Hamilton, 89, Ivan Cannon, 89, Robert Hazelwood, 92, Stephen Wong, 92; Charles Bright, 89; and Steve Downing Jr., 90.

Crew members of the U.S.S Santa Fe attending its 70th Annual Reunion, pictured from left to right, are Richard Champagne, 91; Clifford Hamilton, 89, Ivan Cannon, 89, Robert Hazelwood, 92, Stephen Wong, 92; Charles Bright, 89; and Steve Downing Jr., 90.

Recently, the crew of the “Lucky Lady,” more formally known as the U.S.S. Santa Fe (CL-60), a Cleveland class light cruiser, celebrated their 70th Annual Reunion in Branson, Missouri. Melissa McGowan, a Group Sales Manager for the Branson Tourism Center Groups Department, worked with the group in planning and conducting the reunion. She said, “It’s always an honor and privilege to work with our military groups, but this group was special.”

“It was an absolute pleasure to be with them and to hear them talk about what they experienced aboard the Santa Fe during World War II. It changed me. Of the over 1300 plus crewmembers who sailed on the ‘Lucky Lady’ throughout the war, only seven were able to attend the reunion: Richard Champagne, Clifford Hamilton, Ivan Cannon, Robert Hazelwood, Stephen Wong, Charles Bright, and Steve Downing Jr. The oldest was 92 and the youngest was 89. Precious heroes; I love them!”

When the Santa Fe, named after the city of Santa Fe, New Mexico, was christened, the traditional bottle of champagne was not used. Instead, the bottle was filled with water taken from the Santa Fe River that had been blessed by Santa Fe’s archbishop. That, and the appropriateness of the ship’s nickname, “Lucky Lady,” came to mind many times as the crew and family members of crew members who have passed, shared some of their experiences. Remarkably, the Santa Fe and her crew fought their way through 224,999 miles of battles, air raids, kamikaze, and torpedo attacks in the Pacific Theatre during World War II without the death of a single crew member due to battle injuries!

How lucky or blessed were they? How about having a torpedo hit the bow of the ship near a gun turret, surrounded by ammunition, that failed to explode? The crew said that if it had exploded they would have lost the bow of the ship. Imagine a kamikaze torpedo plane coming at the ship and being blown out of the sky by the ship’s guns about two seconds before it would have crashed into the ship. It was so close that gas from the plane sprayed aboard, injuring crew-members and killing one non-crew member that the ship had previously rescued. They all agreed that if the plane had remained airborne for two more seconds, very few, if any of them, would have survived.

During one air attack, the aircraft carrier USS Franklin was bombed by a Japanese plane, was on fire, and was in danger of sinking as she listed horribly. The Santa Fe and her crew, in a daring move of extraordinary courage and seamanship, pulled alongside the badly damaged ship, and maintained its position for over three hours, amid fires and exploding ammunition, with the towering aircraft carrier listing over it, as they rescued more than 800 members of its crew.

For her action with the Franklin, the Santa Fe received a Navy Unit Citation. That was in addition to the 13 Battle Stars she received for service from the Aleutian Islands to Tarawa, Wake, Iwo Jima, Okinawa, and just about every other major sea raid and battle conducted in the Pacific Theatre during World War II.

The U.S.S. Santa Fe 7 Reunion was held in the beautiful Grand Plaza Hotel in Branson from September 22 through 26; the hotel’s Montclair Room was made available for meetings, dinners, and fellowship. Their schedule allowed plenty of free time to shop, relax, and enjoy the comradery and fellowship of their shipmates, family, and friends. In addition, there were planned events and meals, along with the opportunity to ride the Branson Scenic Railway, experience the adventure of dinner and a show aboard the Showboat Branson Belle on Table Rock Lake, and to see the fabulous Legends in Concert show.

Branson Tourism Center’s McGowan said, “It was an honor to work with them and, although just for a while, get to know them. I hope they enjoyed their time in Branson as much as we enjoyed having them!”

Major route changes for 81st Branson Veterans Day Parade

Map of new route for the 2014  Branson Veterans Day Parade.

Map of new route for the 2014 Branson Veterans Day Parade.

“Although it’s a different route this year because of the Downtown Streetscape project in historic downtown Branson, a longstanding patriotic tradition will continue uninterrupted, when on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month, the ’81st Branson Veterans Day Parade starts,'” said Annette Wood, the Director of Sales and Marketing for the Branson Tourism Center. She points out that the new parade route will be moving in a counter clock-wise direction starting and ending at the south parking lot of the Branson Convention Center.

It will exit the convention center parking lot and turn south on Sycamore Street to intersection with Long Street where it will turn east, cross the railroad tracks and turn north onto Branson Landing Boulevard. The parade continues north on Branson Landing Boulevard, the entire length of Branson Landing, to the intersection of Commercial Street where it will turn onto Commercial Street. At the intersection of Commercial and Atlantic Streets it turns east for one block where it turns south on Sycamore Street to the south convention center parking lot where the parade ends near where it began.

Wood points out that traffic along the immediate parade route will be impacted from at least 9:00 a.m. until about 3:00 p.m. for set up, the parade and cleanup. She suggest allowing extra time to find parking and get a good spot to watch the parade. It should be pointed out that most of the better viewing areas, although on level ground themselves, are located “downhill” from the long and fairly level viewing area that was available on Commercial Street for past parades. One “level” combination would be to park in either the Bass Pro or Belk parking lot at Branson Landing and view the parade from Branson Landing Boulevard. It might involve a little walking, but it will, for the most part, be level.

Wood points out that the parade is just one of many special events and activities during America’s biggest Veterans Day tribute, “Branson Veterans Homecoming Week”, an annual event running from Nov. 5 through Nov. 11 that honors America’s Veterans, active duty personal and their families. Click here for a schedule of most major events and more information.

Branson hosts America’s biggest “Veterans Day” celebration

Branson's Veterans Memorial Garden is just one of the many ways Veterans are honored in Branson on a daily basis.

BRANSON, Mo., October 17, 2013 – “Inherent to the Branson Spirit of God, Family and Country is patriotism and the honoring of Veterans, active duty Armed Forces personnel and their families,” said Tammy Johnson the Director of Operations for the Branson Tourism Center. “Veterans and active duty Military Armed Forces personnel are honored on a daily basis, but even by Branson standards ‘Branson’s Veterans Homecoming Week’ is special.'”

She points out that it is the nation’s biggest “Veterans Day” celebration running from November 5th through November 11th each year and features a variety of events and activities honoring Veterans and their service. These events encompass everything from reunions, special shows such as Tony Orlando’s “Yellow Ribbon Salute to Veterans,” to one of the longest running Veterans Day Parades in America as the “80th Annual Veterans Day Parade” taking place in Historic Downtown Branson at the 11th Hour of the 11th day of the 11th month.

The following list of scheduled events, although subject to change, is current as of October 16, 2013, does not include a myriad of specials and other things that local businesses, shows and attractions are doing, and are sorted by date and time:

November 5

1400 – 1630 Official Opening Ceremony and Welcome to Branson’s Veterans Homecoming Week at Clay Cooper Theatre

0900 – 1530 Registration & Souvenir Commemorative Collectors Button Sales at Branson Mill Craft Village

0900 – 1530 “Remembering Our Fallen” The photo display, which includes photos of each Armed Forces Missourian who has fallen in the war against terrorism.

2000 “Special Salute to Veterans,” Showboat Branson Belle

November 6

1230 – 1430 Veterans Spouses Luncheon, Radisson Hotel, RSVP required call 417-230-1178

1400 Special Showing of “Four-star Country Boy,” Keeter Center Royal Oak Forum, College of the Ozarks, 417-690-2212. A play based on the life of former Assistant Commandant of the United States Marine Corps General Terrence R. Dake as conveyed by the book “The Four Generals of Hard Work U,” by Jerry C. Davis.

1500 – 1700 “Vietnam Veterans Thank You, Reception” with light Hors d’oeuvres, The Keeter Center, College of the Ozarks, 417-690-2212

November 7

0820 – 1130 Persian Gulf War Veterans Mini Reunion hosted by VVA Chapter 913, Branson, MO at the Golden Corral, 417-230-2278.

1200 – 1700 Vietnam Veterans Mini Reunion, Camden Hotel & Conference Center, 417-230-2278

November 8

0800 2nd Annual Navy Memorial Service, Main Street Lake Cruises Branson Landing, 877-382-6287. Brief welcome at the dock or inside in case if inclement weather, followed by a short cruise and wreath ceremony honoring those departed members of the U. S. Naval Services for their service. After the boat returns to the dock there will be refreshments and fellowship.

0900 Wal-Mart Tribute to Veterans, Wal-Mart Supercenter in Branson Hills, 417-230-2278

1130 – 1330 Gold Star and Blue Star Mothers Luncheon, Landry’s Seafood Restaurant, Fran Davis 417-272-0630

1200 – 1500 Korea War Veterans Mini Reunion, Stone Castle Inn – 3050 Green Mountain Dr. 417-230-2278

1400 Tree Dedication at Veterans Grove, Alumni Center Lawn, College of the Ozarks, 417-690-2212

1500 – 1700 WWII Mini-Reunion, The Keeter Center, College of the Ozarks, 417-690-2212

1400 – 1900 4th ID Hospitality Room, Savannah House, 165 Expressway, 902-684-0147

1500 – 1930 Women Veterans Mini Reunion , Golden Corral with social hour, meal and show. Must RSVP 417-230-2278.

November 9

1200 – 1500 Korea War Veterans Mini Reunion, Stone Castle Inn – 3050 Green Mountain Dr. 417-230-2278

1900 U.S. Submarine Veterans Base Candlelight Ceremony, 918-786-8851 hosted by members of the Topeka-Jefferson City U.S. Submarine Veterans Base.

November 11

0700 Flag Raising/Wreath Laying Ceremony, Main Campus Flag Pole, Chapel Lawn, College of the Ozarks, 417-690-2212

1100 80th Annual Veterans Day Parade, Historic Downtown Branson

1400 Tony Orlando’s “Yellow Ribbon Salute to Veterans”, Welk Theatre, 417-337-7469 This will be Tony’s 20th and final year of presenting this annual free show to Veterans in Branson. Reservations may be made by calling 417-337-7469.

1900 Patriotic Convocation Jones Auditorium in the Nettie Marie Jones Learning Center, College of the Ozarks, 417-690-2212.

For additional information on “Branson’s Veterans Homecoming Week,” any of Branson’s shows, attractions or for lodging arrangements please feel free to  call the Branson Tourism Center at 1-800-785-1550 or through their website www.BransonTourismCenter.com.

Branson hosts America’s largest Veterans Day Celebration

Branson's Verteran's Memorial Garden, one of the many ways Branson honors America's Veterans. is just one of the man

BRANSON, Mo., October 7, 2012 — “Honoring America’s Veterans, active duty Armed Forces personnel and their families is an important part of Branson’s heritage and tradition,” said Tiffany Isnard, the Director of Marketing for the Branson Tourism Center. “It is something that is part of Branson’s heart and spirit and is done on a daily basis, but nowhere is it more evident than during Branson’s annual ‘Veterans Homecoming Week’ running from November 5 through November 11.”

The week long event is a special and exciting time, not only for those whom Branson honors, but for Branson itself. A schedule of events for “Branson’s Veterans Homecoming Week” follows below and is sorted by date, single day events first followed by multiple day events, and is current as of October 7. Click here for access to more detailed information on most of these events.

Nov. 5 – Patriotic Welcome to Veterans Homecoming Week, Yakov Smirnoff Theater
Nov. 5 – “Special Salute to Veterans” dinner cruise & show on Showboat Branson Belle
Nov. 5 – Vets for Vets Welcome Show, The Starlite Theatre
Nov. 6 – POW/MIA Service, Vietnam Memorial Wall at the Welk Resort Branson
Nov. 6 – 237th Marine Corps Birthday Ball, Chateau on the Lake
Nov. 6 – Veterans Sporting Clays Shoot, Ozark Shooters Sports Complex, 759 US Hwy 65
Nov. 7 – A Salute to Veterans Spouses Reception at the Radisson Hotel
Nov. 7 – A Salute to Veteran’s Spouses Luncheon, Radisson Hotel
Nov. 7 – Vietnam Veterans Mini Reunion, Camden Hotel and Conference Center
Nov. 8 – Women Veterans Mini Reunion, Golden Corral Showroom
Nov. 8 – The First Annual Navy Ceremony “Lost at Sea,” Main Street Lake Cruises, Branson Landing
Nov. 9 – 16th Annual Military Gala & Banquet, Chateau on the Lake
Nov. 9 – Korean War Mini Reunion , Stone Castle Inn
Nov. 9 – 8th Annual Rose Petal Ceremony and Women Veterans Tribute Luncheon
Nov. 10 – 3rd Annual Branson West Flag Lighting Ceremony, Business 13/Hwy 12 intersection
Nov. 10 – Bretts For Vets Award Winner Presentation, Dick Clark’s American Bandstand Theater
Nov. 10 – Wal-Mart Tribute to Veterans
Nov. 10 – Thanks4Giving Gala featuring Rudy Giuliani, Hilton Branson Convention Center
Nov. 11 – Military Wedding Ceremony at The Branson Landing Fountains
Nov. 11 – Tony Orlando’s Yellow Ribbon Salute to the Veterans, Welk Resort Theatre
Nov. 11 – 79th Veterans Day Parade and Ceremony, Downtown Branson
Nov. 11 – Veteran’s Day Flag Raising, Big Cedar Lodge
Nov. 11 – “Celebrate Veterans” Breakfast, First Baptist Church of BransonNov 4 – Nov 10 – Skaggs Veteran’s Wall
Nov 5 – Nov 10 – Veterans Village, Red Roof Mall*
Nov 5 – Nov 11 – Veterans Homecoming Week, Throughout Branson*
Nov 5 – Nov 12 – Vietnam Memorial Wall, Welk Resort Branson
Nov 5 – Nov 10 – Registration & Souvenir Commemorative Collectors Button Sales
Nov 5 – Nov 11 – Veterans’ Patch Wall, Main Lobby at Grand Country Music Hall
Nov 6 – Nov 10 – Day Room at the Red Roof Mall, Red Roof Mall
Nov 6 – Nov 10 – Free Lunches for Veterans, Red Roof Mall
Nov 6 – Nov 11 – Veterans Are Special, Hamner Barber Theater
Nov 6 – Nov  8 – WWII Big Band Dance, Our Lady of the Lake Parish Hall
Nov 7 – Nov 14 – Titanic Honors Veterans
*Although stores in mall are closed Veteran’s Week events are being held at the Mall.

Branson’s Veterans Homecoming Week is celebrated during the first week of Ozark Mountain Christmas which runs from November 1 through December 31. With its Christmas shows, drive through lighting displays and Silver Dollar City’s Old Time Christmas it provides those attending Veterans Homecoming Week with a unique opportunity to experience not only the events connected with Veterans Homecoming Week, but to also experience Ozark Mountain Christmas.

Branson Tourism Center’s Isnard reminds those attending Veterans Homecoming Week that November through December is one of the busiest times of the years in Branson and suggests advance reservations for lodging and shows to ensure not only availability, but to obtain the best seats accommodations. For further information on Branson’s Veterans Homecoming Week, Ozark Mountain Christmas or additional information or tickets for any of Branson’s shows and attractions or for lodging arrangements, please feel free to contact the Branson Tourism Center by either calling their toll free number 1-800-785-1550 for free personal assistance or through their website www.BransonTourismCenter.com.

USS Point Cruz Reunion remembers “The Navy’s Baby”

Daniel Keenan, left, Clay Cooper, and Shirley Keenan.

BRANSON, Mo., September 17, 2012 — What does the reunion of the USS Point Cruz in Branson, September 10 – 14 of 2012 have to do the with an emaciated near death two month old Korean Caucasian baby in a Korean orphanage in 1953? Actually, quite a bit according to Daniel Edward Keenan, who was that dying baby. “If not for the intervention of the Point Cruz, I would not be here today. They literally saved my life,” he said.

Keenan and the Point Cruz first “met” in September of 1953 when the carrier escort docked at Inchon Harbor, in South Korean. Its Chaplain, LTJG Edward O. Riley, while responding to a request for assistance from Sister Philomena de la Croix, the head of the French Catholic Orphanage caring for 400 babies, discovered an emaciated, near death, blue eyed, fair skinned, baby with blond hair, called “George,”  amid all the Korean babies. Knowing that the chances of survival for a half blood Caucasian baby were slim Riley went back to the ship and explained the situation to its “Skipper,” Captain John T. Hayward, who instructed him to go back to the orphanage and to not return to the ship without the baby.

Although it was against all military regulations, not a “one trip” to the orphanage situation and took the intervention of visiting Vice President Richard Nixon, the “Baby George” not only came to the ship, but the necessary Korean Pass Port and U.S. Visa paper work was completed for him to come to the United States within mere weeks. As unlikely as this seems in this day and age Baby George went aboard a U.S. Naval vessel and into the welcoming arms of its 1,000 plus man crew, who treated him as a “member” of the families they were so far away from and to whom they longed to return.

Not only was George piped aboard the ship like a visiting dignitary, he went into a “nursery ” the crew had prepared with a crib and playpen, handmade toys and an environment under which “George,” or “Baby-san” as he was sometimes called, flourished. The stories tell how sheets were cutup into diapers, the crew took turns changing his diapers, anxiously awaited the daily reports on his improving condition and gathered to see him whenever the PA Announcement was made that the baby “would be on the hanger deck” or was wheeled around the ship in a modified “bomb carrier” baby carriage. Imagine, a U.S. Navy ship with diapers hanging from the “yard arm.” So unique and touching was the story that it was made into a TV movie entitled, “A Thousand Men and a Baby,” which aired on CBS in 1997.

During the process, a doctor from the hospital ship USS Consolation, Lt. Hugh C. Keenan, who had treated him and examined him for his Visa indicated a desire to adopt him and obtained the enthusiastic long distance sight unseen agreement of his wife to do so. When the USS Point Cruz arrived in Japan, “Baby George” was “piped” off the ship and, with Chaplain Riley, boarded the USNS General Hugh J. Gaffey, a transport ship for transportation to the United States. When “George” disembarked from the ship in Seattle, Washington, December 12, 1953 in the arms of a Navy Nurse he was transferred directly into the waiting arms of his “mother” Genevieve Keenan.

“George,” was renamed Daniel Edward Keenan, “Daniel” being his dad’s father’s name and “Edward” after Chaplain Riley. It was over 40 years before “The Baby” and crew of the Point Cruz” met again. That was in a tearful celebration at the ships second reunion in 1993. Keenan has attended the vast majority of them since, including the one just completed in Branson, Missouri.

Julie Peters, Group Sales Manager with Branson Tourism Center’s Group Sales, worked closely with the USS Point Cruz in planning and holding their reunion., She said that in addition to participating in the fellowship and camaraderie of a military reunion, they also went to see Clay Cooper’s Country Music Express, SIX and The Yakov Smirnoff Show. Peters points out that while the group was at Clay Cooper’s Show he recognized them and asked Keenan to share the story with the audience. Peters said that  it’s always a special pleasure to work on Military Reunions and getting to hear the story behind “A Thousand Men and a Baby” was a special personal highlight.

What are the odds on that, Keenan and his wife Shirley would, on their own, elect to go to see the Branson production of the Price Is Right, Live Show, be selected at random as one of the contestants and win $2,500? Insignificant as compared to the odds involved with what happened to a near death baby named “George” more than half a century ago, but wonderful nevertheless.

Branson’s Veterans Homecoming Week, America’s largest Veterans Day Celebration, starts November 5

This sculpture in front of the Branson Veteran's Museum reminds visitors to Branson of America's Veterans as they travel up and down the Branson Strip.

BRANSON, Mo. “‘Branson’s Veterans Homecoming Week,’ Americas largest ‘Veterans Day celebration,’ starting on November 5 and running through November 11 is a special and exciting time for us in Branson,” said Tammy Johnson, the Director of Operations for the Branson Tourism Center “It gives us a special dedicated opportunity to honor Veterans, active duty Armed Forces personnel and their families that goes beyond the way they are honored routinely in Branson on a daily basis.

A schedule of events for “Branson’s Veterans Homecoming Week” follows below and is current as of October 28:

November 4, 2011

10:00 a.m. (1000) “Traveling Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall” ceremony at the Welk Theater.

November 5, 2011

7:00 a.m. (0700) Reveille at Factory Merchants Branson by the Dress Barn.

8:00 a.m. – 6 p.m. (0800 – 1800) Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall at the Welk Resort.

9:00 a.m. (0900) Veterans Registry, Tactical Operations Center and Veterans Village  at Factory Merchants Branson, 1000 Pat Nash Drive  Branson, MO. Please support our vendors. Closes at 1600 except Nov. 10 when it closes at 1500.

9:00 a.m. (0900) Day Room opens at Factory Merchants Branson. Don’t forget your acoustic instruments for jamming, visiting and games. Closes at 1800.

9:00 a.m. – 3 p.m. (0900 – 1500) “General Tommy Franks Traveling Road Show and Classroom, in a 60 foot long trailer, at the Branson Mall, 2206 W. Hwy76.

12:00 p.m. (1200) 571st Air Force Band Concert at Factory Merchants Branson along with A Tribute to Bob Hope and the USO

2:00 p.m. – 4:15 p.m. (1400 – 1615) “Patriotic Welcome to Veterans Homecoming” at the Branson Star Theatre, 3750 W. Hwy 76 behind the Olive Garden Restaurant.  Guest Speaker Todd Baker, author of the book “Bagdad ER, Fifteen Minutes”, performances by local entertainers and more. Open seating.

5:00 p.m. (1700) Retreat at Factory Merchants Branson by the Dress Barn.

5:30 p.m. (1730) 2nd Annual Branson West Veterans Parade and Flag Lighting Ceremony: 5:30 pm in Branson West

7:00 – 8:00 p.m. (1900 – 2000 hrs.) Candlelight Memorial Service for Lost Submarines will be held at the Lower Fountain at Branson Landing, Branson, MO.

7:00 p.m. (1900) The Showboat Branson Belle Salutes the Veterans with a special show and dinner for a special rate.

November 6, 2011

7:00 a.m. (0700) Reveille at Factory Merchants Branson by the Dress Barn.

8:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m. (0800 – 1800) Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall at the Welk Resort.

9:00 a.m. (0900) Veterans Registry, Tactical Operations Center and Veterans Village  at Factory Merchants Branson, 1000 Pat Nash Drive  Branson, MO. Please support our vendors. Closes at 1600

9:00 a.m. (0900) Day Room opens at Factory Merchants Branson. Don’t forget your acoustic instruments for jamming, visiting and games. Closes at 1800.

9:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. (0900 – 1200) Veterans Sporting Clays Shoot at Ozark Shooters Sports Complex, 759 US Highway 65, North of Branson. For more information call: 417-230-2278. This shoot is for veterans only.

9:00 a.m. – 3 p.m. (0900- 1500) “General Tommy Franks Traveling Road Show and Classroom, in a 60 foot long trailer, at the Branson Mall, 2206 W. Hwy76.

11:30 a.m. – 1:00 p.m. (1130 – 1300) “FREE” lunch to veterans and current serving military served at Factory Merchants Branson and a $4.00 donation for all others. Sponsored by Steve’s Tree House and Grill.

1:00 p.m. (1300) 22nd Annual Branson Motorcycle Toy Run sponsored by the VFW Post 5168 of Forsyth. Donations will benefit Taney County families. Meeting at Area 57, Dick Clark Theater, Hwy. 76, Branson with the “parade of motorcycles going to the VFW Post 5168 of Forsyth” being led by Santa. Dinner and music will be provided compliments of the VFW. For more information contact the VFW @ 417-546-5869 or 417–334-0775.

5:00 p.m. (1700) Retreat at Factory Merchants Branson by the Dress Barn.

November 7, 2011

7:00 a.m. (0700) Reveille at Factory Merchants Branson by the Dress Barn.

8:00 a.m. – 6 p.m. (0800 – 1800) Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall at the Welk Resort.

9:00 a.m. (0900) Veterans Registry, Tactical Operations Center and Veterans Village at Factory Merchants Branson, 1000 Pat Nash Drive, Branson, MO. Please support our vendors. Closes at 1600

9:00 a.m. (0900) Day Room opens at Factory Merchants Branson. Don’t forget your acoustic instruments for jamming, visiting and games. Closes at 1800.

9:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. ( 0900 – 1200) Persian Gulf War Veterans Mini Reunion at Golden Corral on Shepherd of the Hills Expressway for those who served during Desert Shield, Desert Storm, Iraq, Afghanistan and Kosovo.  FREE breakfast will be provided in the Allen Edwards Show Room, speakers, entertainment, and drawing for door prizes. Hosted by Vietnam Veterans of America Chapter 913, Branson, MO.  Please RSVP by calling 417-230-2278 or email: bransonveteransevents@yahoo.com.

9:00 a.m. – 5 p.m. (0900 – 1700) Army Special Forces “A” Team from Ft. Campbell KY: 9am-5pm, Factory Merchants Branson.

11:30 a.m. – 1:00 p.m. (1130 – 1300) “FREE” lunch to veterans and current serving military served at Factory Merchants Branson and a $4.00 donation for all others. Sponsored by Steve’s Tree House and Grill.

5:00 p.m. (1700) Retreat at Factory Merchants Branson by the Dress Barn.

November 8, 2011

7:00 a.m. (0700) Reveille at Factory Merchants Branson by the Dress Barn.

8:00 a.m. (0800) POW/MIA Service of Remembrance, Welk Resort Theatre.

8:00 a.m. – 6 p.m. (0800 – 1800) Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall at the Welk Resort.

9:00 a.m. (0900) Veterans Registry, Tactical Operations Center and Veterans Village  at Factory Merchants Branson, 1000 Pat Nash Drive, Branson, MO. Please support our vendors. Closes at 1600

9:00 a.m. (0900) Day Room opens at Factory Merchants Branson. Don’t forget your acoustic instruments for jamming, visiting and games. Closes at 1800.

9:00 a.m. (0900) Ozark Mountain Blue Star Mothers are hosting a Gold Star Mother and Blue Star Mother brunch at Steve’s Treehouse located at Stonebridge Village.  Any Gold Star Mother (mother who has lost her child in service to America) or Blue Star Mother (mother of a living veteran or current military soldier) is invited to attend. If you are planning to attend or have questions, please call Fran at 417-272-0630 or email: bsmmo2@aol.com.

11:30 a.m. – 1:00 p.m. (1130 – 1300) “FREE” lunch to veterans and current serving military served at Factory Merchants Branson and a $4.00 donation for all others. Sponsored by Steve’s Tree House and Grill.

12:00 p.m. (1200) United States Air Force Band of Mid-America Shades of Blue Jazz Ensemble Concert, Factory Merchants Branson.

2:00 p.m. – 5:00 pm (1400 -1700) Korean War Veterans Association Mini-Reunion, will be held at the Stone Castle Hotel & Conference Center 3050 Green Mountain Drive. This is for those who served during the Korean War. Speakers, entertainment, drawing for door prizes and refreshments. For more information call 417-230-2278 or email: bransonveteransevents@yahoo.com.

5:00 p.m. (1700) Retreat at Factory Merchants Branson by the Dress Barn.

November 9, 2011

7:00 a.m. (0700) Reveille at Factory Merchants Branson by the Dress Barn.

8:00 a.m. – 6 p.m. (0800 – 1800) Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall at the Welk Resort.

8:00 a.m. (0800) FREE pancake breakfast for all Veterans/active duty personnel and their families at Tri-Lakes Christian Church 116 Pathway, behind Branson Jr. High School off Bee Creek Road.

9:00 a.m. (0900) Veterans Registry, Tactical Operations Center and Veterans Village  at Factory Merchants Branson, 1000 Pat Nash Drive Branson, MO. Please support our vendors. Closes at 1600

9:00 a.m. (0900) Day Room opens at Factory Merchants Branson. Don’t forget your acoustic instruments for jamming, visiting and games. Closes at 1800.

11:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m. (1100 – 1300) Women Veterans Rose Petal memorial and Women Veterans Appreciation Lunch, to honor women veterans who have died for their country will be held at the Stone Castle Hotel & Conference Center in the Drawbridge Room. Special guest speakers are Vickie Jones, Major Retired Army and Amy Bennett. Cost: $20.00 and reservations are required. Please call Barb Riggle 417-337-8387.

11:30 a.m. – 1:00 p.m. (1130 – 1300) “FREE” lunch to veterans and current serving military served at Factory Merchants Branson and a $4.00 donation for all others. Sponsored by Steve’s Tree House and Grill.

4:00 p.m. – 10:00 p.m. (1000 – 2200) “4th Infantry Division Special Hospitality Room at Savannah House, 165 Expressway Lane.  Hosted by 4th Infantry Division Association for more information. Call 920-684-0147 or email: rrdufek2244@comcast.net.

5:00 p.m. (1700) Retreat at Factory Merchants Branson by the Dress Barn.

5:00 p.m. (1730) 15th Annual Military Gala & Banquet, Saluting Strategic Air Command, will take place during Veterans Homecoming at Chateau on the Lake.  Call 866-481-GALA (4252) for more information.

5:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m. (1700 – 2000) “Women Veterans Mini Reunion” at Golden Corral on Shepherd of the Hills Expressway in the Allen Edwards Show room. FREE Dinner and show for women veterans and spouse or a friend. Speakers, entertainment, and drawing for door prizes.  Please RSVP by calling 417-230-2278 or email:bransonveteransevents@yahoo.com.

November 10, 2011

7:00 a.m. (0700) Reveille at Factory Merchants Branson by the Dress Barn.

8:00 a.m. – 6 p.m. (0800 – 1800) Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall at the Welk Resort.

9:00 a.m. (0900) Veterans Registry, Tactical Operations Center and Veterans Village  at Factory Merchants Branson, 1000 Pat Nash Drive, Branson, MO. Please support our vendors. Closes at 1600

10:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m. (1000-1300) Wal-Mart Tribute to Veterans.  The Wal-Mart Super Center at 1101 Branson Hills Parkway in association with Branson Veterans Events and Reunions will pay tribute to Veterans.  A ceremony, entertainment, refreshments and BBQ will be provided for the veterans.  All veterans in attendance will receive a lapel pin.  For more information call 417-230-2278 or email: bransonveteransevents@yahoo.com.

11:30 a.m. – 1:00 p.m. (1130 – 1300) “FREE” lunch to veterans and current serving military served at Factory Merchants Branson and a $4.00 donation for all others. Sponsored by Steve’s Tree House and Grill.

2:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m. (1400 – 1700) Vietnam Veterans Mini Reunion will be held at Camden Hotel and Conference Center, 275 Tanger Blvd, Branson.  Sponsored by Gatherings Plus, for more information call 417-338-4048.

2:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m. (1400 – 1700) WWII Mini Reunion will be held at the Keeter Center on the campus of the College of the Ozarks.

5:00 p.m. (1700) Retreat at Factory Merchants Branson by the Dress Barn.

5:00 p.m. – 11:00 p.m. (1700 – 2300) The Few, The Proud, The United States 236th Marine Corps Birthday Ball Open to all U.S Marines, Veterans and the general public. For more information call 800-569-3493.

November11, 2011

11:00 a.m. (1100) 78th annual Veterans Day Parade is sponsored by the American Legion Post 220 and goes through downtown Branson. For parade information contact the American Legion Post 220 at 417-334-2296.

2:00 p.m. (1400) Tony Orlando’s Yellow Ribbon salute will be held at the Welk Resort Branson. Free Admission for Veterans and one (1) Guest. (Reservations Recommended) 800-505-9355.

Branson Tourism Center’s Johnson points out that Veterans Homecoming will take place during Ozark Mountain Christmas and all the special shows, drive through lighting displays and other activities associated with it which runs from November 1 through December 31. For further information on Branson’s Veterans Homecoming Week, Ozark Mountain Christmas or additional information or tickets for any of Branson’s shows and attractions or for lodging arrangements, please feel free to contact the Branson Tourism Center by either calling their toll free number 1-800-785-1550 for free personal assistance or through their website www.BransonTourismCenter.com.

Highlights of Special Events honoring Veterans during Branson Veterans Home Coming Week

“Thousands of Veterans and active duty U. S. Military personnel and their families will be honored in Branson during Branson Veterans Home Coming Week, November 5 through the 11,” said Tammy Johnson, the Director of Operations for the Branson Tourism Center. “Here is a list of some of the events, many of them free, compiled by the Branson Veterans Task Force and Branson Lakes Area CVB,” she added.

The list is sorted by starting date and is subject to change:

Veterans Day Room (Friday, Nov. 5 – Wednesday, Nov. 10)
Location: Factory Merchants Branson
Hours: 9 AM – 6 PM
Phone: 417-335-4041
Admission: Free Admission

Traveling Vietnam Veteran’s Memorial Wall (Friday, Nov. 5 – Monday, Nov 15)
Location: Welk Resort Branson
Hours: 8 AM – 8 PM
Admission: Free Admission

Lost Heroes Art Quilt (Friday, Nov. 5 – Monday, Nov. 15)
Location: Welk Resort Branson
Hours: 8 AM – 8 PM
Admission: Free Admission

WWII Aviation Art Prints on Display (Friday, Nov. 5 – Monday, Nov. 15)
Location: Dick’s Old Time 5 & 10 (Historic Downtown Branson)
Hours: 8:30 AM – 9 PM Mon. – Sat. 9 AM – 9 PM Sun.
Admission: Free Admission
Over 85 WWII aviation art prints permanently on display.  Most prints are signed by pilot(s) and crew who were on the mission that the print depicts.

Opening Ceremony (Friday, November 5)
Location: Sight & Sound Theatres
Hours: 12 PM – 2 PM
Admission: Free Admission

Showboat Branson Belle “Special Salute to Veterans” (Friday, Nov. 5)
Location: Showboat Branson Belle
Hours: 8 PM (Boarding begins at 7 PM)
Admission: $44 Per Person (all inclusive rate includes cruise, meal, show, tax and gratuity)
Web: http://www.showboatbransonbelle.com
Branson’s only Entertainment Dining Cruise! Two hour cruise on beautiful Table Rock Lake with Showstopping Production Show, fabulous 3-course meal plus, that evening, a special salute to Veterans!

Reveille and Retreat (Saturday, Nov. 6 – Wednesday, Nov. 10)
Location: Factory Merchants Branson
Hours: Daily 7 AM Reveille and 4 PM Retreat
Admission: Free Admission

Veterans Village and BVTF Tactical Operations Center (Saturday, Nov. 6 – Thursday, Nov. 11)
Location: Factory Merchants Branson
Hours: 9 AM – 4 PM
Phone: 417-337-8387
Admission: Free Admission

Veterans Registry (Saturday, Nov. 6 – Thursday, Nov. 11)
Location: Factory Merchants Branson
Hours: 9 AM – 4 PM
Phone: 417-337-8387
Admission: Free Admission

Persian Gulf War Mini Reunion (Saturday, Nov. 6)
Location: Golden Corral
Hours: 9 AM – 12 PM
Admission: Free Continental Breakfast and Entertainment
This event is for those who served during Desert Shield, Desert Storm, Iraq, and Afghanistan. Coordinated by Branson Veterans Events & Reunions, and hosted by Vietnam Veterans of America Chapter 913, Branson, MO.

WWII Veterans Mini Reunion (Saturday, Nov. 6)
Location: College of the Ozarks
Hours: 3 PM – 5 PM
Phone: 417-337-8387
Admission: Free Admission

Veteran’s Shoot (Sunday, Nov. 7)
Location: Ozark Shooters Sports Complex (759 US Hwy 65, North of Branson)
Hours: 10 AM – 12 PM
Sporting Clays, Trap and Wobble Trap. Lunch will be available.

Video Presentation by Lt. Col. Bill Groninger, SR-71 Blackbird Pilot (Sunday, Nov. 7)
Location: Branson Shenanigans RV Park Clubhouse (3675 Keeter Street)
Hours: 7 PM
Admission: Free Admission
The Blackbird was the Air Force’s fastest, highest flying manned spy plane ever flown.  Featured on the Discovery Channel.

Women Veterans Mini Reunion Reception (Monday, Nov.8)
Location: Branson Mall Meeting & Event Center
Hours: 5 PM – 7 PM

Women Veterans Mini Reunion Show (Monday, Nov.8)
Location: Mickey Gilley Theater
Hours: 8 PM
Admission: Free Admission for Veterans

14th Annual Military Gala & Banquet (Monday, Nov.8)
Location: Chateau on the Lake Resort
Hours: 5 PM
Phone: 866-481-GALA (4252) for Reservations (Required)
Admission: $51 per person
Tickets include the salute to National Guard and Reserve forces, POW/MIA candlelight service, dinner and outdoor fireworks display.  Cash bar cocktails begin at 5 p.m. with salute beginning at 6 p.m. and fireworks just before 8 p.m.  Master of Ceremonies is Erwin Schultze, National Service Officer for the Disabled American Veterans.  TOPS IN BLUE, the US Air Force’s premier musical group performs following the fireworks display.

Tops in Blue Performance (Monday, Nov.8)
Location: Chateau on the Lake Resort
Hours: 8 PM
Admission: Free Admission
United States Air Force Tops in Blue perform following the gala and banquet.  Doors open to the public for the FREE performance at 8 p.m.  Reservations are not required for the performance.  Seating is on a first-come, first-serve basis.

Korean War Veterans Mini Reunion (Tuesday, Nov. 9)
Location: Stone Castle Hotel & Conference Center
Hours: 9 AM – 12 PM
Phone: 417-365-1389
Admission: Free Admission

Women Veterans Rose Petal Ceremony (Tuesday, Nov. 9)
Location: Keeter Center at College of the Ozarks
Hours: 10:30 AM – 11:30 AM
Admission: Free Admission

William G. (Jerry) Boykin, Lt. Gen. (ret.) U.S. Army to Sign Books (Tuesday, Nov. 9)
Location: Bass Pro Shops in Springfield
Hours: 11 AM – 1 PM
Admission: Free Admission

William G. (Jerry) Boykin, Lt. Gen. (ret.) U.S. Army to Sign Books (Tuesday, Nov. 9)
Location: Bass Pro Shops in Branson
Hours: 4 PM – 6 PM
Admission: Free Admission

Penny Gilley Show featuring Jeff Brandt (Tuesday, Nov. 9)
Location: The Mansion Theatre
Hours: 3 PM
Admission: Free Admission for Veterans (Reservations Recommended)

POW/MIA Service (Wednesday, Nov. 10)
Location: Welk Resort Branson at the Vietnam Memorial Wall
Hours: 8 AM
Admission: Free Admission
Service will be held outdoors.  Sponsored by the Welk Resort Branson.  Music by the LeCroy Sisters, wreath laying, guest speakers.

Vietnam Veterans Mini Reunion (Wednesday, Nov. 10)
Location: Charlie’s Steak, Ribs & Ale
Hours: 2 PM – 5 PM
Admission: Free Admission

235th Marine Corps Birthday Ball (Wednesday, Nov. 10)
Location: Branson Convention Center
Hours: 5 PM – 11 PM
Phone: 866-279-3415 for Reservations
Admission: $60 Per Person (Seating is limited)
Web: http://www.branson.com or http://www.veteransgalleria.com
Open to all Marines and the general public.  The celebration includes social hour with cash bar, the traditional U.S. Marine Corps Birthday Ceremony and cake cutting, an elegant dinner and dancing until 2400 hours (Midnight) with a surprise or two along the way. The Key Note Speaker is Col. Jim Sims (ret), National Commander of the Military Order of the Purple Heart, former Aide to the White House Chief of Staff, former Secretary of the General Staff of the Marine Corps Headquarters.  For more information call 417-334-2360.

76th Annual Veteran’s Day Parade (Thursday, Nov. 11)
Location: Historic Downtown Branson
Hours: 11 AM
Phone: 417-337-8387
Admission: Free Admission

Tony Orlando’s Yellow Ribbon Salute (Thursday, Nov. 11)
Location: Welk Resort Branson
Hours: 2 PM
Phone: 800-505-9355
Admission: Free Admission For Veterans and (1) Guest (Reservations Recommended)

Closing Ceremony (Thursday, Nov. 11)
Location: Tri-Lakes Center
Hours: 2:30 PM
Admission: Free Admission

Johnson suggests calling the Branson Veterans Task Force at 417-337-8387 for the latest information on these and other events associated with Branson Veterans Homecoming Week. Additionally, she offers the assistance of the company she works with, the Branson Tourism Center (BTC), one of Branson’s largest and most respected vacation planning services, in answering questions regarding Branson Veterans Week activities, the U.S. Marine Corps Ball or Ozark Mountain Christmas. BTC would also be pleased to assist with information or tickets for any of Branson’s other shows and attractions or for lodging arrangements. BTC can be reached by either calling their toll free number 1-800-785-1550, at their offices conveniently located at 220 Branson Hills Parkway in Branson, or through their website www.BransonTourismCenter.com.

Branson’s U.S. Marine Corps Birthday Ball one of many Branson Veterans Home Coming Week highlights

"The few. The proud . The Marines" celebrate their 235th Birthday.

“The celebration of the 235th birthday of the U.S. Marine Corps and having a good time will be the central focus of the Marine Corps Ball to be held at the Branson Convention Center in Branson, Missouri from 1700 to 2400 hours (5:00 p.m. to Midnight) on November 10,” said Marlyce Stockinger, Director of Advertising & Public Relations for Branson.Com, the event’s sponsor along with the Branson Tourism Center. “It is one of the many exciting special events held to honor America’s Veterans, active duty military personal and their families during the celebration of “Branson’s Veterans Homecoming Week” and has special significance to U.S. Marines and their families.

Stockinger said that the celebration starts with a social hour and cash bar at 1700 hours (5 p.m.). It will be followed by the traditional U.S. Marine Corps Birthday Ceremony and cake cutting, an elegant dinner and dancing until 2400 hours (Midnight) with a surprise or two along the way.

The keynote speaker for the event is Colonel James Sims, U.S. Marine Corps, Retired who is currently the Commander of the National Military Order of the Purple Heart. Colonel Sims served in the U.S. Marine Corps for 26 years receiving the Purple Heart for combat wounds received while a company commander in Viet Nam. During his career Colonel Sims served as an instructor at the Marine Corps Command & Staff College, as an Aide to the White House Chief of Staff and at the time of his retirement was the Chief of Political Military Analysis for the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

“The Few, The Proud, The United States Marine Corps” was established November 10, 1775 by a resolution of the Continental Congress. Since then it has served our country in every war and conflict from the Revolutionary War to the War on Terrorism with honor and distinction. The remembrance and celebration of that birthday dates back to 1921 when the 13th Commandant of the U.S. Marine Corps, General John A. Lejeune issued a Marine Corps Order summarizing the tradition, history and mission of the Corps and directed that the order be read at all commands “on the 10th of November, 1921 and hereafter on the 10th of November of every year.”

Through the years the formal reading of Lejune’s order was followed by additional celebrations including the ceremonial cutting of a birthday cake and a celebratory ball. In 1951 the 20th Commandant of the U.S. Marine Corps, Lemuel C. Shepherd Jr., formalized some of these traditions by adding the reading of the current Commandant’s message and the cake cutting ceremony using the U. S. Marine Corps Officer’s Mameluke Sword. Those traditions have remained in place ever since and are honored at virtually every Marine installation every November 10.

For additional information or tickets on the Marine Corps Ball please call the Branson Tourism Center at 1-866-279-3415  or click here to visit the events website. For additional information or tickets for any of Branson’s other shows and attractions or for lodging arrangements please contact the Branson Tourism Center (BTC), one of Branson’s largest and most respected vacation planning services. BTC can be reached by either calling their toll free number 1-800-785-1550 or through their website www.BransonTourismCenter.com.

Branson’sVeterans Homecoming Week – About our Veterans, the Military and their families

“One of the largest ‘Veterans Day’ celebrations in the world, Branson’s Veterans Homecoming Week, will be celebrated in Branson, Missouri starting on November 5 and running through November 11,” said Tammy Johnson, the Director of Operations for the Branson Tourism Center. “Although Branson has a special place in its heart for Veterans, with the vast majority of its many live shows routinely honoring America’s Veterans, active duty Armed Forces personnel and their families on a daily basis, Branson’s Veterans Homecoming Week is special.”

“It’s a week long celebration filled with events and activities honoring America’s Veterans, active duty Armed Forces personnel and their families,” Johnson continued. “There is a variety of events, most of which are free to Veterans, all with the same theme, to honor America’s Military and their families.”

Some of the major highlights include the Opening Ceremony at the home of the spectacular “Miracle of Christmas” show, the Sight and Sound Theatre on November 5 at 1230; the “Traveling Vietnam Veteran’s Memorial Wall” at the Welk Theater from November 5 through the 15th; the Showboat Branson Belle’s “Special Salute to Veterans on November 5 at 1900; many mini reunions such as the “WW II Veterans Mini Reunion” on November 6 from 1400 to 1700 at the College of The Ozarks; the 4th Annual Military Gala & Banquet on November 8 at 1700; the “The United States Marine Corps 235th Birthday Ball,Tony Orlando’s Yellow Ribbon Salute on November 11 at 1400; the 77th Annual Veterans Day Parade through historic downtown Branson on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month and the Closing Ceremony at Tri-lakes Center at 1400.

The Veterans Village and Branson Veterans Task Force Tactical Operations Center will be located at the Factory Merchants Mall, (Red Roof Mall) and will be open from 0900 to 1600 daily from November 6th through the 10th. It will host one of the two Veterans Registries with the other being at the Veterans Memorial Museum, located at 1250 West 76 Country Music Blvd; vendors booths and the “All American Lunch” served free to Veterans daily between November 6 through November 10 by Steve’s Tree House and Grill betwee 1130 and 1300. It will also provide a convenient place to just relax and fellowship with old friends and new acquaintances as well as the latest information about the week’s events and Veteran discounts.

Branson Tourism Center’s Johnson points out that in addition to the full slate of Veterans Homecoming Week activities, those attending can participate in the first week of Branson’s “Ozark Mountain Christmas” with all the excitement it provides, including the opening of Branson’s major Christmas shows and its drive through Christmas Lighting displays and the Silver Dollar City’s award winning “An Old Time Christmas” which starts on November 6 and runs through December 30.

Johnson extends a warm and heartfelt welcome to all the Veterans, active duty Military personnel and their families that will be coming to Branson and says, “Thank you for your service and sacrifice.” For additional information about Branson’s Veterans Homecoming Week activities, Ozark Mountain Christmas, or Branson shows, attractions or lodging please contact Branson Tourism Center, (BTC), one of Branson’s largest and most respected vacation planning services. BTC can be reached by calling 800-785-1550, through its website www.BransonTourismCenter.com or through a personal visit to its office located at 220 Branson Hills Parkway in Branson just west of the Bee Creek Highway 65 exit.