By Marsha M. Brown
If you’ve ever attended the annual ‘SALUTE TO VETERANS’ presented by Manteo First Assembly on Veterans Day weekend, you know that it’s a special event. This year will be our fourth celebration of veterans and their families and no question about it, it will meet or exceed your expectations, I promise.
The first event in 2011 was fairly typical in that it offered attendees patriotic music, women dressed in olive drab 1940’s costumes (like the Andrew Sisters) who performed “Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy of Company B” along with other songs and speakers who verbalized some of what you already knew and some of what you didn’t; the second year in 2012 the program again honored our veterans and featured Master Bagpiper and Vietnam veteran Robert J. White of Garner, N. C. who not only performed beautifully but poignantly recalling what both he and his brother, who also served in Vietnam, had experienced; then last year in 2013 the ‘SALUTE’ went a step further…it captured memories of our veterans from the World War II era to date using music and songs indicative to war times and as the catapult of remembrance.
Last year we added additional aspects including a play about an American soldier in the grip of war whose letters home communicated his deep love for his wife and his commitment to his country. After the program many who were there complimented the good work of those who participated in every phase of the ‘show’. One veteran said, “I think it was so good you should take it on the road!” another veteran’s daughter said, “It was really good and I don’t know if I cried more or laughed more but it was great!” “I can’t wait until the next one!” Several months following the almost 2 hour ‘show’ people were still coming up to my sweetie pie Billy and I commenting on how much the program meant to them. We along with all of the actors, singers, musicians, performers of all ages and everyone who helped from lighting crews to decorators etc. were blessed to have had a part in something that touched so many hearts, puffed up the chests of our golden aged veterans and all of the men and women who had donned a military uniform of the United States of America.
My point? Well, first I want to make sure that you know well in advance that this year on Saturday, November 8th, our program will again honor all of our veterans including a P.O.W. and M.I.A. ceremony; present the meaning of the ‘Thirteen Folds of the Flag’ and perform a story that will tug at your heart, bring back memories of the brotherhood and make you stand and clap with pride. Please mark your calendars now. On that night, announcements of all of the veteran activities that will ensue during the following week will be announced and it will be a night to remember…you can count on it. With several months until then, think about a veteran whose shut in or who doesn’t drive and take the time now to invite him or her…mark their calendars and tell them to “Save the date” because you have somewhere special to take them that evening…do it for them and do it for you.
Over the past few years in talking to so many vets in Dare County, I’ve come to realize that many want to attend but have vision problems and are either unable to drive or don’t go out alone. We’ve already started working on our 2014 Salute to Veterans and it because of the good people who love and respect you that we’re able to pull off such an event…its f-a-r from a throw together. If you haven’t attended in the past…please come; if you have we’ll look for you again…it’s because of you that we do this. We want you to recall things that are precious and happy; we want you to realize your importance, your value in this world and your valiant sacrifice here at home and your service overseas to keep us safe and out of harms way…you are our heroes, you are our veterans and we are a grateful community, County and nation.
Speaking of that, the other night Billy and I were working on the program and researching facts, history etc. on the Internet. During the search, I came across a veterans’ recall of the Vietnam War and his personal experiences. In the video he referenced the remarkable bravery of the Fire Direction Control personnel and how much he respected their unwavering determination to override fear in the quest to get the job done. Then…he summed it all up by saying they were “Super Stars”…for a minute my eyes watered up. The former soldiers eyes were fixed as he remembered the past; boasts about his fellow comrades were sincere; and I knew that was my new found description of Vietnam veterans overall…especially my sweetie pie Billy was accurate…’Super Star’ is the perfect summation of what he and all of you are…without a single doubt.
Last Sunday I attended the Memorial Service of Kenneth “K.K.” Koci another Vietnam veteran I had written about a short time ago. I’m glad I went. The Memorial was nice. The gathering was special and respectful of him, about him and for him. His sister Wendy and others who loved him that were able to attend spoke with pride and recalled special memories, funny stories and the times they had shared with him through the years. He was missed and though I missed the privilege of ever meeting or knowing Ken, I felt I did by the time I left. He sounded like the kind of guy you’d want to be by your side or in a fox hole with you because you knew he had your back. I was grateful to have been a part of the service that Wendy had longed for in which to honor her brother. Ken was a proud U. S. Marine and proud to be an American…and everyone there…were all very proud of him.
Rhonda Creef, Dare County Veteran Service Office (252) 475-5604 is ‘as busy as a bee in a bucket’ as they say meeting with veterans and/or their family members, answering questions, submitting claims on their behalf and providing service to our heroes every single day. If you have a question or need to schedule your screening for Agent Orange (boots on ground – Vietnam), please contact her to make an appointment on a Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday and seek the care and attention you deserve. Please don’t let more time pass by that could possibly influence a positive change in your health and in your life…and if you’ve ‘been there, done that’ with a crummy outcome, by golly go at it again…I can attest to the fact some of the vets we’ve met over the past two years did just that and thank God every day that they did. Billy says I’m stubborn just like my Daddy and he’s right. Be like me and Capt. ‘Marv’ – don’t give up…we’re here for you and with you.
Until next time, be happy, be safe and be proud…mark your calendar for the evening of Sat., November 8th…(if not for yourself…please come for me, cause it’ll make me happy to see you there)…that includes you too Commander Elmo Hassell! J And if we can be of help or you’d like to get your Dare County Veteran I.D. Card, please call my cell (252) 202-2058.
In the meantime, thank you for your service and the service of your loved ones who stood beside you. We love you all. God bless and stay tuned.