Women veterans remembered
In 1993, when Branson held its first week long tribute, A Veterans Homecoming, six hundred veterans and their families came to visit; 2004's event saw around 100,000. While Branson is well known for its warm reception of all our nation¹s veterans, this year¹s celebration focused specifically on women veterans.
The Women Veterans Welcoming Committee, sponsored by the Branson Veterans Task Force and the Branson/Lakes Area Chamber of Commerce and Convention & Visitors Bureau, along with Golden Corral¹s Steve Weyher, organized a special Women Veterans Afternoon Social. Brigadier General LaRita Aragon of the Air National Guard, Oklahoma presented the Branson Veterans Task Force with a beautiful print of a Native American woman warrior in the forefront and the same woman in her Blackhawk Pilot's uniform in the background.
The women veterans visited Ride The Ducks, Stone Hill Winery and The American Presidential Museum and were given gift bags filled with items donated by the community. The event concluded with dinner at Lodge of the Ozarks and special guest speakers Jill Thomas from the Department of Veteran Affairs St. Louis and Lynda Petty from the Department of Veteran Affairs Washington DC. These two ladies, veterans themselves, were impressed with the sincerity of the love and appreciation all veterans were shown in Branson. Lynda Petty related the story of a woman veteran who had been staying in a nursing home. The Department of Veteran Affairs contacted her to offer their thanks and register her with the Women¹s Memorial in Washington DC. The woman was astonished they were even aware she had been in the service, tearfully stating that even her husband didn¹t know. During World War II, many women who joined the service from small towns didn¹t believe it was proper for a young woman to join the service. Thankfully, today¹s outlook is much different.
City of Branson Mayor, Lou Schaefer dedicated the third week of May Women Veteran¹s Week. The Women Veterans Welcoming Committee will be bringing to our area as many of the 1.2 million US women veterans as they can entice in May 2005. This is the first time women veterans have had an extended day dedicated just for them and many were touched by the thoughtfulness. The Women Veterans Welcoming Committee members are Sherrie Schnapp, Dayle Goldsworthy, Sue Gordy, Rexanna Haynes, Judy Murphy and Mary Slivka. It might surprise you to know that several of our local business women are veterans. So the next time you run in to Sherrie Schnapp, Army; Dayle Goldsworthy, Navy; Sue Gordy, Navy; Billie Mazzalie, Air Force Nurse, and the chamber¹s own Mary Slivka, Navy be sure to take a moment to express your gratitude for their service and dedication. We owe them all a great deal.