One of the greatest privileges that our family has enjoyed since we began performing in Branson, Mo., is meeting the Veterans who come to our show every single day. I have spoken with many of these men and women over the years, and I have discovered time and time again that some of the most amazing and inspiring stories of sacrifice and service to our country come from people, who, without their uniforms, appear to be just like you and me.
They come in all shapes, sizes, colors, ages and backgrounds, yet they share one very important bond – military service to the greatest country on earth. Behind each of their faces and in each of their hearts is a story that most likely has gone untold or unheralded. Most of them believe that their contribution was small – just part of their duty – but it is these individual efforts that have combined into a mighty force for freedom. These stories, in combination, make up the bigger story of America itself – a story of courage, sacrifice, faith, honor, love and the commitment to preserve and protect -precious liberties.
The poem “I am a Veteran” was written to pay tribute to those who have “written this story.” Each line or phrase in the poem is the voice of one of these men or women; each represents an actual person whom I have met or have been told about. The poem is not about one Veteran, but each and all of them. The words represent only a sampling of the diverse experiences of our Veterans – it would be impossible to cover them all. It is intended to symbolize the sacrifice of all Veterans and to honor them for the service each of them performed.
The poem was also written to encourage anyone who reads or hears it to become more aware of each man or woman they encounter in their everyday comings and goings. This asks them to think, “Maybe he or she is a Veteran. Maybe he or she had a part in securing my freedoms. Maybe this ‘common’ person has performed uncommon service in my behalf.”
If so, the ground we share in our daily walk is truly sacred ground.
I have been told by many Veterans that my poem has given them a voice. This is the highest compliment I could possibly receive. It is an honor to speak for any of these noble men and women who have given so much. It is with deepest gratitude and humility that I offer “I am a Veteran” as my gift to these great Americans.
Author Andrea Brett is a member of The Bretts, a performing family that for the last 16 years has made Branson, Mo. their home. Andrea was the visionary behind the creation of the “Bretts For Vets” program. Currently her son-in-law is in the Air National Guard, and she has a nephew in the U.S. Air Force Combat search and rescue division. She has long had a special place for Veterans.