Branson: God & country
God and country are paramount in Branson and there are no apologies to those who do not agree in the public display of religion and patriotism.
The day's opening ceremony yesterday at Silver Dollar City was marked with trumpet playing Revielle, followed by the Pledge of Allegiance and a great rendition of the Star Spangled Banner — a first-ever for me at an amusement park. Everyone stood and respectfully placed their right hands over their hearts.
My day ended aboard the Showboat Branson Belle as it docked after a cruise on Table Rock Rock Lake with a stirring tribute to the troops, a recitation of scripture and a slide show of Bible scenes starring Jesus. A explosion of flags dropping from the ceiling and balconies ended the show.
My table seatmates, Shirley and Robert from Kent, England declared their surprise at the unabashed display of religiousity and patriotism, especially since they've visited the U.S. many times and hadn't witnessed it before to such a degree. They also expressed surprise at seeing few black or Asian faces among folks around here. "In England we end ceremonies with God Save the Queen," said Robert. "But it's nothing like this." Sentiments of patriotism and religion are considered private in England and not the subject for public displays.
The couple told me they are country music fans who came to Branson just for that reason. They also are fans of all things American and before they came here they visited the Space Center in Alabama, and attended a Mustang Car rally somewhere else in the south. They own and drive a 1966 Mustang which they bought 35 years ago in England where an American had had it shipped and later sold it. I know that those of us who adore all things English are Anglophiles, but I don't know the word for Brits who love all things American.
Other shows in Branson display the same God and country sentiments, the couple has found. A Passion Play show has just concluded for the Easter season and a Noah's Ark show is packing them in. There's a God and Country Theater and even a God and Country Memorial Garden, which looked to me more like a miniature golf course with flags, crosses and Jesus statues. But a sign out front advertised it For Rent so I didn't pop in.
But old time family values are apparently alive and well in Branson, even without a whole lot of diversity.