By: Sam Wagmeister, Nightlife Editor
One-by-one they filed into the dining room at Boulder City’s Nevada State Veterans Home. They are the men and women of World War II, Korea and countless “skirmishes” with foreign dictators, autocrats and tyrants where American blood was spilled.
They are the men and women responsible for the Red, White and Blue flying July 4, America’s 238th birthday, 2014.
This July 4, as they often are, the chairs in the cafeteria had been rearranged to accommodate a stage show, a party. Some of the military veterans walked into the room slowly, a bit stooped over.
Others shuffled in on walkers. Most though, were confined to wheelchairs; the fortunate ones made it on their own, but most were assisted by friends, family and the Veterans Home staff and volunteers.
The common factor was not the years on these veterans, but their happiness with the bright facility and its staff and the brotherhood they shared with the other residents.
Although many years separate these veterans from their military time, the spirit and pride resurfaced as ten local entertainers…professionals and the folks who just love singin’ at the karaoke joints around town took holiday time away from their family and friends to share their music and a good time. A gesture of thanks and respect.
Four years ago, Heart Shapre, a lady whose two brothers and one sister had served in the military, stumbled across a newspaper targeted for military readership. She immediately felt compelled to make a contribution to the veterans.
Heart, who retired from American Airlines in the days when flight attendants were still called stewardesses, reached out to the karaoke community to form her musical troupe. “The response was kind of magic. Everybody said ‘yes.’”
As word of Heart’s project spread, several professional singers enlisted in her ensemble. Shapre now musters her band of talent to perform for these veterans on most major holidays.
This day, the room was filled with veterans and performers draped in the colors of the flag; baseball caps proudly proclaiming the ships they served on and the wars they fought in. Even pets were draped in red, white and blue bandanas.
Frail hands strongly waved American flags during the performance. Among the audience were residents of the veterans home Carl Oog and his son Don.
The music of the day reflected the patriotism being celebrated and other classic, modern tunes added to the excitement; including Cabaret, Swanee, It’s Now or Never, I’ve Got You Under My Skin and more.
The singers honoring the veterans included Dick Wessel; Cal Border; Chuck Wallings; Diane Shea, a staff member of the Veterans Home; Nick Carter; LaVonne Nitcher; Denise Rose; John Franco; Brenda Hebert and Ron Rumsey.
Standing ovations for this audience ended years ago. Instead they responded to the finale, God Bless America, by joyously waving their flags and wiping away the happy tears. The performers were surrounded by the appreciative audience.
The Vegas Voice continues to honor these veterans August 16 with a 59th Anniversary Celebration of the end of World War II. The event at the 2000 seat theater at the M Resort and Casino will be hosted by Gary Anthony, singer and Sinatra tribute artist.
Anthony’s guests include popular vocalists Genevieve, Denise Rose, Dennis and Lorraine Hunt Bono, Eric Jordan Young and the trios - Dangerous Curves and the new Las Vegas Tenors.
Honorary Grand Marshall for the 2 PM event is WW II decorated war hero, Marty “Hello Dere” Allen.
The M Resort and Casino is located at I-15 and St. Rose/Southern Highlands. Admission is free to all.
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