Alum helps Branson performer Tony Orlando retire Veteran’s Day salute after 20 years
November 12, 2013 | Valorie Coleman
Renee Marchand, 1979 Evangel graduate, has worked with the legendary performer Tony Orlando to honor veterans during his annual show in Branson for the last 20 years.
Although this tradition is coming to an end (the final Veteran’s Day show took place on Monday, Nov. 11), Marchand always will be thankful for the opportunity she’s had to serve alongside Orlando.
“Tony’s Veterans Day show began in 1993, with the 20th anniversary of the return of Vietnam POW’s,” Marchand says. “It was amazing to see a large number of the veterans come for that event. I was hooked — I knew then that I would do the show as long as he did.”
Marchand has kept the promise. Over the years, she has supervised ticket reservations, helped with stage décor, provided “Run of Show” backstage assistance — basically, she’s done whatever Orlando has needed.
The show has made an impact on Branson and veterans from all across the USA.
“Before Tony’s show, Veterans Day in Branson was a very small, low-key event,” Marchand says. “After the first show, the Branson celebration took off! Numbers attending Branson’s week-long event are in the tens of thousands.”
“The privilege of working with Tony has been amazing,” she added. “He is who you see. He is genuine. He bleeds red, white and blue.”
Marchand shares the same respect for veterans, making the hours of work well worth it.
“When you stand in an auditorium with more than 2,000 veterans, you can’t help but be awed by their presence and the fact that you are there because of their sacrifice.”
“This is not something I get paid for. This is something I just love doing. All you have to do is stand in that auditorium when the music starts playing, watch our veterans stand to their feet, and know that you are part of something very, very special.”