It seems sweet enough that the Lasting Impressions senior troupe wants to offer a grand thank you to veterans for their perfectly patriotic, stars-and-stripes sacrifice through the years.

But its Veterans Day-oriented musical show, “Honoring Our Heroes,” comes with the added sweetness of desserts at the 2 p.m. Friday performance at Mill Race Center.

Plus, the group will offer a separate 2 p.m. Nov. 11 performance at the Historic Artcraft Theatre in Franklin.

Last year’s Mill Race presentation, a different show, sold out its approximately 200 tickets a week in advance.

“We just truly want to honor the veterans for all they have done and given for the benefit of our country,” said Donna Browne, the coordinator and director of the show along with the assistance of a few others. “We want them to know we think of them as very special, along with their families, because they sacrificed, too.”

Four people — Ed Browne (Marines), Gary Owens (Air Force), John Foster (Air Force) and Don Smith (Navy) — are veterans in the 20-person cast. Browne, the director’s husband, acknowledged that this year’s performance may be more significant, given all the national hoopla over love of country and respect for the flag related to pro football players’ racial protests during the national anthem.

“It is more important to me, and I think to any other veterans as well,” said Browne, who served in Korean War service from 1951 to 1954. “Some of the stuff that has been going on I feel shows a disrespect for our flag and what we stand for. It definitely affects me.”

The first half of the program is meant to create a lighter tone as organizers copy the atmosphere of the classic New York City 1940s Stage Door Canteen founded by Bette Davis and John Garfield. The presentation “moves,” with the help of video backdrops, to other locales such as St. Patrick’s Cathedral and Radio City Music Hall with such songs as “Heal Our Land” and “Eternal Father, Strong to Save.”

The later portion of the program turns “almost sacred,” according to the director. It will include Foster’s three-minute recitation of “What Is a Veteran?”

It includes a description of an older, slow, frail and palsied man bagging groceries. He helped liberate one of the World War II Nazi death camps “and he just wishes all day long that his wife was still there to hold him when the nightmares come,” Foster said.

Foster’s voice cracked slightly as he relayed the details.

“It’s very emotional,” Foster said of the piece authored the Rev. Denis Edward O’Brien. “It’s hard for me to get through it without tearing up. I get a frog in my throat just trying to tell you about it.”

Foster, who grew up with the daily Pledge of Allegiance in school, acknowledged that Veterans Day holds ample meaning for him.

“All this really resonates with people who come from an era when things like the pledge and the national anthem were things we naturally grew up with,” he said. “So I think we have a real appreciation and feel for all this.”

A star-spangled salute

What: “Honoring Our Heroes,” the Lasting Impressions senior troupe’s musical Veterans Day-oriented show.

When: 2 p.m. Friday at Mill Race Center, 900 Lindsey St. in Columbus and 2 p.m. Nov. 11 at the Artcraft Theatre, 57 N. Main St. in Franklin.

Tickets: Free to veterans for both locations. In Columbus: Mill Race members, $5. Non-members, $10.

In Franklin: $15 general admission at the door.

Information: 812-376-9241 or millracecenter.org.

Author photo
Brian Blair is a reporter for The Republic. He can be reached at bblair@therepublic.com or 812-379-5672.