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When a serious neck injury forced Dr. Tom Brett, a successful Texas-based LDS chiropractor, to forge a new career path back in 1996, our Heavenly Father’s much bigger plan for him and his family became very apparent. He probably didn’t know that he and his wife, Andrea, along with their children, Brydon, Briahna and Garon, were meant to sing, dance and entertain their way into the hearts of countless thousands with their mega-hit family show in Branson, Missouri.
While I look forward to sharing Tom’s story (their show is nearing the 20-year mark) with Meridian readers soon, the important story to tell today is Andrea’s. While they have touched countless thousands, the ones that have most touched the Bretts (especially Andrea) are the many American Veterans that come to Branson for a holiday.
Getting to know them and their sacrifice lit a fire of desire in her to both honor them and to inspire increased appreciation and greater American patriotism.
So she wrote a poem called “I Am A Veteran.” As an entertainer she was able to widely share her moving, personal gratitude in a way that has come to bless countless Americans of all ages.
For years, Andrea’s powerful reading of “I Am A Veteran” has been an emotional, important highlight of their show.
After hearing them, and especially this poem, it is not difficult to know why Heavenly Father needed them to live their lives in a place and way where their exceptional talents and righteous desires would bless the world.
Her desire has been fulfilled as her poem has become very popular and is now read at thousands of events for Veterans. You’ll know why as you listen to its sweet, powerful message and story. (To get a copy of the poem, go to the family’s website, TheBrettsShow.com)
Immediately after writing the poem, Andrea yearned to turn it into a gorgeous, big picture book for families to read, enjoy and teach from. (She was a homeschool Mom and knows the educational value of this type of book!) For years, she collected photos from some of the Veterans who attended their shows, thinking they would be the illustrations for this book. Her busy schedule as a mother, grandmother and professional entertainer didn’t allow much time to work on the project, although the poem grew in popularity and use.
A year ago, in late 2016 and early 2017, a unique window of time presented itself, and she knew what it was for. Through a series of inspired conversations and contacts (which she tells about in the forward of her book), she realized that her treasured collection of photos were meant to inspire artists who would create drawings. It was another adventurous journey to find those artists. In October of 2017 her dream, to have a beautiful big picture book for families to gather around to learn and feel of what she calls the Divine Partnership — Soldier and Savior — was fulfilled. Just in time for Veterans Day 2017!!
I am thrilled to say that we recently saw their show in Branson. While we were royally entertained with their music, glorious harmonies, dance, and incredible humor, it was after the Veterans in the audience had been recognized and Andrea started to recite her poem, “I Am A Veteran” that the tears began to flow. On the large screens behind her, the gorgeous drawings were shown as stirring music swelled. I cried and cried. And you will too. Every American, especially every child, needs to feel those stirrings within their hearts to know that God lives and that America has been, and will forever be, a land of promise, no matter how difficult the current times may be or become.
We bought a copy of the book for a very special Veteran in our own Ward. We look forward to always having a copy of this remarkable book in our home to share with everyone, especially our grandchildren, which is Andrea’s dearest wish.
“My desire is for it to be used as a tool to come to know and appreciate our Veterans. It is a fulfillment of an inward commission and a way for me to express gratitude. I do not pretend to know or understand what they have been through. But I do understand this is the Divine Partnership – Soldier and Savior – that I owe my freedom.”
But she’s not the only important new picture book about American Vets for Veteran’s Day 2017. Former President George W. Bush also has an incredible picture book that everyone needs to know about. It, too, is one to be owned, shared and read out loud with family, friends and grandchildren. “Portraits of Courage: A Commander in Chief’s Tribute to America’s Warriors” was published this past February. It has become a #1 New York Times Best Seller and an Amazon “Best Book of the Month.”
It is remarkable. Seeing it on the table at a friend’s office, I immediately felt the weight and importance of the spirit and stories it contains. Just opening it begged me to find a place to be alone for an hour or two. Or three. To turn the pages, to read and marvel at the short, personal histories and to absorb the power of the portraits is a priceless window of understanding. The sacrifices and services our Vets have given at such personal cost and loss continue long after they return home.
It is also fascinating is to learn that President Bush personally knows each of the Veterans featured in his book. He wrote their stories and painted their portraits. Amazingly, he started painting after his years in the White House, discovering his “inner Rembrandt.” After leaving office in 2009, President Bush began to paint, but he kept his new hobby a secret. Inspired by British Prime Minister Winston Churchill, who painted extensively, Bush told friends and family that he found painting relaxing and that he hoped it would inspire others to try new things.
This book has an exciting life of its own, as all the proceeds for it are used to benefit Veterans who have returned home to face life with unique physical and emotional challenges. You can hear President Bush and the soldiers themselves talk about the book in this interview:
This book is available at Amazon.
Andrea’s great desire for her book is for her book to strengthen American patriotism. President Bush’s desire for his book is to increase awareness and support of our Veterans who need respect and support in their lives after their return home.
And what of our Heavenly Father’s desire? At this Veteran’s Day, I think it would be that all of us become more aware, more tender, and more supportive of those who have sacrificed their ALL for the freedom and pleasures that Americans experience and enjoy every day. God bless our American Veterans and their families! God bless America!
Carolyn Allen is the Author of 60 Seconds to Weight Loss Success, One Minute Inspirations to Change Your Thinking, Your Weight and Your Life. She has been providing mental and spiritual approaches for weight loss success both online and in the Washington, DC community since 1999 presenting for Weight Watchers, First Class, Fairfax County Adult Education and other community groups. She and her husband, Bob, are the parents of five children and grandparents of eleven. They are now happy empty nesters in Jackson, Tennessee, close to Memphis, where they center their online business for an amazing herbal detox. CLICK HERE