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Branson Honors Purple Heart Recipients at Hand In Hand Event

A new, two-day event in Branson will be geared toward honoring a unique group of U.S. military veterans.

Hand In Hand: Branson Honors Purple Heart Recipients is scheduled for April 24-25, with several events and ceremonies scheduled.

“We could never do enough to honor these wonderful men and women, who have been injured in battle,” said Marlyce Stockinger, with branson.com, which is presenting the event. “This is just something to honor a group of heroes who do not seek a lot of recognition.”

Purple Heart recipient Ray Wheeler, who was shot nine times in Vietnam, made an appearance during a press conference announcing the event this week.

“I’m glad the Purple Heart recipients are getting the recognition they deserve,” Wheeler said. “They don’t necessarily want it, but it’s good to receive a pat on the back and a ‘thank-you.’”

The event will be filled with special events.

April 24

•8 a.m.-noon — Registration at Factory Merchants Branson.

•2-4 p.m. — Opening Ceremony at the Hamner-Barber Theatre. The guest speaker will be Col. Hemant Thakur, an expert in Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

Stockinger said Thakur’s presence will be to, hopefully, help some of the veterans.

“I spoke to a lot of Purple Heart recipients and many of them said they do want to have fun and laugh during this event,” she said, “but they also want some tools to help them. We want each of them to be able to use what the speaker says.”

April 25

8 a.m-noon — Fishing tournament at Moonshine Beach. Participants will have their name drawn from Purple Heart recipients who registered on April 24. Each of the 25 participants will be paired up with a professional fisherman from the Central Pro-Am Tour.

9 a.m. — Purple Heart recipients and one guest will be able to join in the fun at the Missouri Wine Festival, which is being held at Chateau on the Lake all day on April 25. While they wait for the fishermen to return, they will be able to sample various wines, cheeses and chocolates.

2-4 p.m. — The Hand in Hand Entertainment Show at the Hamner Barber Theatre will include a variety of Branson performers entertaining the heroes and their families.

6-7 p.m. — The Purple Mountain Majesty Twilight Ceremony will be held at Branson Landing. It will include hearing from guest speaker Maj. Tony Rose, a 9-11 Pentagon survivor and Purple Heart recipient.

“This is going to be a wonderful two days,” Stockinger said. “We need to have as many people show up for these events as possible. Purple Heart recipients need to know that they are appreciated.”

Purple Heart recipient Aaron Wintterle, who was wounded in Iraq, said it’s important to bring as many recipients to the event as possible.

“I was reluctant to come forward and talk,” Wintterle said, “but I really think it will help others. It’s going to be a good event.”

Information courtesy of Branson Daily News