By Marsha M. Brown
At this writing of GIG LINE, its Thursday, July 4th…Independence Day – a day of celebration of sacrifice, honor and a remembrance of brave hearts and as usual, I’m thinking of you.
I’m also thinking about the fact that this day unites us all, even if we might disagree on everything else in life, at least for one day, we’re following a great American tradition of family and friends together; tending a hot grill, squeezing mustard and ketchup bottles; clutching a handful of potato chips or a scoop of potato salad, chasing flying saucer paper plates and proudly displaying our American flags.
If you’re like my sweetie pie and me, you pay special attention to news segments about veterans…especially when they’re talking about veterans most recently returning from Afghanistan and Iraq as amputees. First, you want to hear that he or she is doing as well as can be expected and mending as the doctors and families hope. Then, by surprise you see the veteran being featured in the story. Upon first glance, he sports the most beautiful smile you’ve ever seen and he initially gives the impression that everything is great in his life but soon you realize astonishingly that he has lost not just one but both arms and not just one but both legs. And believe it or not…he still has a better attitude toward life than most of us on a daily basis. It’s so ironic isn’t it? Even when we feel daily appreciation for our veterans, we still grumble and gripe and complain about the silliest of things unintentionally failing to consider that veterans across our United States have given up their limbs, their sight, and sometimes their peace of mind as sacrifice for what our flag stands for…freedom. Then, the picture broadens, the image of what the term ‘freedom’ means. You feel proud of him and you feel ashamed of yourself for forgetting for even a second how the lives of injured military men and women have been changed forever.
This brings to mind a new veteran friend we’ve made over this past year. He and his beautiful family live in our community. He is a hero too like all veterans of the Vietnam War; he is one of many who has never been honored at The White House or weighted down with ribbons and medals galore; he hasn’t been escorted in a motorcade through the streets of New York or the focus of a ticker tape parade riding on the back of an expensive convertible waving at adoring crowds; he wasn’t featured on the evening news or interviewed at his home with cameras flashing; he never asked for anything from anybody…like the majority who served to support his fellow troops, to sustain their life…and his; he performed difficult tasks, witnessed countless heartaches and he has since experienced heartaches of his own for too many years; he hasn’t been inundated with monetary rewards for his service…for his suffering…for his struggles…or for the feeling of abandonment by those he thought would embrace his return who instead greeted him and others with cruel and hateful ridicule. He’s a veteran who was exposed to Agent Orange and who lives daily with illness and pain…he like so many Vietnam Veterans is deserving of honor.
Though also deserving…his sweet and loving wife, like so many veteran spouses, hasn’t been lavished with attendants drawing her a hot, bubble bath or setting her dining table with fine linens and baskets of fresh flowers in honor of her sacrifice; she’s received no plaques or special awards as a dedicated, respectful partner who cherishes the man she loves and admires; her prayers are consistent, relentless and sincere to our Heavenly Father that her sweetie pie will soon feel better and realize just how absolutely wonderful she thinks he is…and…that he’ll realize the pride she feels in him as her husband…a United States veteran and survivor of Vietnam.
The couple of which I speak are deserving of every good thing…seriously…every good thing. They are overdue every good thing. And its times like this that I wish the few lottery tickets we buy on occasions could be a winner…just once. Can you imagine the joy and help you could extend to truly deserving folks…especially veterans? For the majority of us that will most likely never happen and if not, that’s OK too because we still have so very much to be thankful for. And because that’s the simple truth, we have to make things happen for others by supporting them together.
In the next GIG LINE you’ll hear specifics about a plan to help that fellow Dare County veteran…one of our own…so please folks, get ready to join us and help. We need to huddle together and exercise a plan of action to make someone else’s day a little brighter. There’s much goodness in this world and we need to tap into it soon…I’ll keep you posted!
This afternoon Billy and I attended the 4th of July veteran picnic at The Fraternal Order of Eagles in Kill Devil Hills and it was really nice! The generosity of the ‘Eagles’ was much appreciated by all and the welcome was genuine. Vince Puma, his lovely wife and daughter and virtually every one there who cooked or served the guests/Members were folks to be proud of…honestly, they were great! We enjoyed yummy hot dogs, hamburgers, fresh corn on the cob, pasta salad, chips/dip and a cake with red, white and blue icing! We had fun and we look forward to going back soon for not only the great food yes, but mostly the fellowship. The setting was that of a private club…of which Billy is a member and I found their interest in finding ways to help veterans very evident. When patriotic music played, folks stood up and placed their hand over their heart staring at the abundant U. S. flags inside the building. We liked being there; it was a good group of people seeking good to do for others. For anyone interested in joining the organization, they are offering a one year free membership to veterans…just think about it. If you want to contact Vince about membership, please call him at (252) 207-5129. Also, when we arrived at the picnic verbal messages of thanks were expressed by a gentleman seeing Billy’s Vietnam Veteran hat from across the street who hollered to my sweetie pie “Thank you for your service Sir!” Billy smiled and replied “Thank you”. Later, while walking back to our car to leave, it happened again…another fellow said “Thank you Sir, you are the reason we’re free!” For a second Billy paused, surprised and not being used to that outward expression of gratitude, he returned, “Thank you, it’s nice to hear that from our younger generation.” It was a moment of pride – public expression of thanks from a total stranger…another moment to remember.
Over the last year, we’ve seen veterans all over Dare County connecting and the picnic this afternoon was no exception. It also gave us another chance in a social setting to meet more veterans and their wives and I’m so glad. We also issued more Dare County Veteran I. D. Card(s) and folks…the total cards now in the hands of our local veterans is 101! Yippee!! Remember the next schedule for ‘CARD’ issuance is Thursday, July 11th from 9:30 AM to 12 Noon at the Baum Center in Kill Devil Hills. Please help spread the word to veterans you know who are Dare County residents and make sure they know to bring their DD-214 showing HONORABLE discharge and proof of local address. The list of new business participants is growing and in Sunday’s, July 14th GIG LINE, you’ll find the update to our list of businesses who will offer discounts to I.D. cardholders.
Also, as of the Dare County Veterans Advisory Council meeting on Thursday, June 27th, we have a newly elected Chairman Clarence Lewis (Manteo) and Vice Chairman Pete Groom (Avon). The Council also welcomed new Member Lynda Hester who filled one of the seven Council Member positions recently vacated by the expired terms of Chairman Clarence Skinner and Vice Chairman Moncie L. ”Punk” Daniels. The Council has been well served by Mr. Skinner and Mr. Daniels especially during the Council’s first year. The two vacating officers have been dedicated to the Council goals to reach out to Dare County veterans and to seek ways to acknowledge and celebrate veteran’s service to our country. Both men having retired from the U. S. Air Force are leaving the gavel behind to very capable hands in the new Chairman Clarence Lewis who also serves as Commander of The American Legion Fort Raleigh Post 26 (Manteo) which meets every 4th Tuesday resuming on September 24th 2013 at 12:00 Noon at the location of 302 W. Lake Dr., (from the by-pass, turn west at T-Tops and look for Post 26 on the right).
Thank you to all the veterans who have taken the time to find their DD-214 and note the location of it to spouse and family members or for recording it with the Dare County Register of Deeds; also for attending the I. D. ‘CARD’ distribution appointments; for reading GIG LINE and mostly for being who and what you are…a veteran of our United States military! It is because of you that we look up with hope, pride and that we sense the true spirit of America.
A lot more news is forthcoming…so until next time be happy, be safe, be proud and thank a veteran…shake his or her hand and if they don’t have one or can’t stand up to greet you…hug them…then look straight in their eye and thank them. Stay tuned….