There is no place more patriotic than Branson, Missouri, and Branson's residents take pride in making our country's veterans and active duty military feel right at home. Many of Branson's businesses offer discounts to both current and former military personnel, and several of the shows you'll visit recognize the veterans in their audience and devote part of their shows to honoring those who served.
Visit All Hands on Deck for the most patriotic show in Branson! This live stage musical is set in 1942 and is centered around the Hollywood Victory Caravan. This group of Hollywood film stars traveled around the country by rail, selling war bonds to support the troops fighting in World War 2. Broadway veteran Jody Madaras wrote All Hands on Deck in the style of the old radio broadcast show, and the singing, dancing, and acting will take you back to days gone by. The show's prodigiously talented actors and actresses perform many of the All-American songs that you know and love including "Deep in the Heart of Texas," "By the Light of the Silvery Moon," "America the Beautiful," and many more. The show features an incredible 42 different songs!
Another Branson attraction that celebrates our veterans is the Veterans Memorial Museum located on Branson's Highway 76 Strip. This 18,000 square foot museum contains over 2000 artifacts and opened on November 11, 2000. The museum has 10 different halls with exhibits covering the wars and conflicts in which the United States was involved in the 20th Century including World War 1, World War 2, Korea, Vietnam, and Operation Desert Storm. The museum's founder, Fred Hoppe, collaborated with veterans and their families to compile the museum's exhibits, and Fred personally wrote the scripts for the exhibits. Original artwork, historical artifacts, sculptures, and thousands of pieces of military memorabilia have been assembled to pay tribute to veterans from each branch of the United States Armed Forces. Another thing that sets the museum apart from others is that the names of those killed in action are engraved on the walls.
Patriotism is a large part of the culture at Branson's local university, College of the Ozarks, and the school's devotion to our country can be felt all over campus. This fall, the school's theatre department will be putting on an original play that has several ties to the College of the Ozarks family. Flames of Freedom is based on the life of C of O graduate Lieutenant Earl "Woodie" Woodard. After graduation, Woodie went off to fight in World War 2, becoming a navigator on a B-17 bomber that was shot down over occupied France. Flames of Freedom was adapted for the stage by College of the Ozark professor of theatre Mark Young and is based on the novel Miracle in the Ozarks written by C of O's own president, Jerry C. Davis. Flames of Freedom is playing select dates and times between October 3 and November 16, and all showings are free and open to the public.
College of the Ozarks is also home to several monuments that pay tribute to those who served in the United States military. The campus's newest monument is the Missouri Gold Starr Families Memorial Monument honoring the families of those who lost their lives in service to this country. The monument is the first of its kind in the state of Missouri and was designed and built by College of the Ozarks students and staff. The Missouri Vietnam Veterans Memorial honors the 1,410 Missourians who lost their lives during the Vietnam War, with the names of the fallen engraved on two granite walls that are divided by a bronze statue which represents the soldiers who made it home. The college's Veteran's Grove is a memorial like none other. Each tree planted in the grove represents one of the veterans who have taken part in the college's patriotic travel program. In this special program, veterans are paired with College of the Ozarks students to travel to the countries where they served. When they return home, a tree is planted in the grove and a stone bearing the veteran's name is laid at the foot of the tree. The Alumni Veterans Memorial is located on the lawn adjacent to the school library and bears the names of the College of the Ozarks students who sacrificed their lives in the line of duty. Finally, the September 11th "Lest We Forget" Memorial honors the almost 3,000 Americans who lost their lives on September 11, 2001, and includes one of the last remaining pieces of the World Trade Center.
Whether you're watching a heartwarming patriotic show or visiting one of the Ozarks' many exhibits honoring our nation's military, there is no shortage of Americana in the Ozarks. Make sure to visit some of these patriotic sites on your next trip to Branson, Missouri!
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