By Marsha M. Brown
This past week we saw a TV program about how winning the lottery changes peoples lives. Most of the winners considered their windfall carefully and the new opportunities afforded them. They all knew there would be consequences based on how they handled their winnings. Each expected their vast fortune to change their life forever; some went a little goofy, spent money like it was water wasting and blowing it on ‘bottom feeders’ until it was gone sinking them into debt, others were wise…sought solid financial counseling, made cautious, calculated investment decisions and somehow still managed to maintain their goals of happiness, contentment and peaceful security.
If you’re like me you’ve thought more than once about what you’d do if you won the Lottery. Likely, you’d pay off your bills…all of your bills; probably the same for your kids; establish college funds for your kids, grandkids and great grand kids; buy a new car, truck or boat…maybe you’d pay off all the bills at your church and help the good deserving people that have had a rough row to hoe in life. Wouldn’t that be wonderful? Maybe you’d donate to a homeless shelter or to a shelter for women (like Hotline). Maybe you’ve lost someone you love to an illness and you’d want to support research to help find a cure. There are so many things a ton of money could do for a person with good and honorable intentions, you know? Not for the notoriety, not for the fame but rather for the sheer goodness and desire to make something or someone better in life. Wouldn’t it be fun to think about all the good you could do for your family, friends and all the people who cared about you over the years and were there for you? Trust me, I’m like the majority of people who just tease the thought of one day spending a dollar or two only to discover its worth millions…not likely to happen of course…probably ‘never happen Capt.’…but, its still a hoot just to pretend. But…if I ever did win, here are just a few of the goals on my list:
First of all, I’d like to think I’d fall on my knees and thank the good Lord; likely and to be honest, my initial reaction would probably be to blink a few times, grab my glasses to make sure I wasn’t seeing things, then…I’d call Billy my sweetie pie (if he wasn’t already there picking me up off the floor)…I’d whoop and holler and shriek with sheer joy, then I’d compose myself enough to thank the good Lord and ask for His guidance and wisdom in the decisions to come…then…we’d call our kids and ask them to meet us without telling them why holding the surprise “bar the door Katie” until they got there…following our family hugging and kissing and rejoicing together, I’d want to do all of the above, pay all our bills, pay our kid’s bills, pay our church’s bills, buy a house on the water in Crystal River, Florida for Billy (his favorite place to be besides Dare County) etc…..and once things settled down and we could collect our thoughts, we’d buy a piece of land on the Outer Banks where we could establish a beautiful statue that no one could miss, that everyone would be proud of and that would remind us every day of our veterans – past, present and future.
The monument would encompass each branch of our military; its composition would be the best of the best, birds couldn’t pick at it, weather wouldn’t diminish its outstanding luster, the sun and wind wouldn’t phase it; it would be as high, wide and deep as the Dare County ordinances would allow; it would boast a beautiful American flag, a P.O.W. flag and a cross – the symbol of faith, love and comfort. A candle would be lit with an eternal flame to represent hope – a light at the end of the dark tunnels, dense jungles, dry desserts, deep mountainside caves and refuge on the shore from turbulent seas. This special place…this monument would be a testament to the men and women who have left loved ones behind to serve and those who were left behind. This earmark of courage would celebrate bravery; embrace conscience and faithful dedication; it would recall memories of the fallen; reminding us of those who still aren’t home or unaccounted for. We’d want to stare, kneel and reflect at the base of this monument …and we’d be proud. It would be a very special tribute to each and every person who has donned the uniform of our United States military. Everyone who would tour our “Monument to Veterans” would leave moved, inspired and proud. They would tell their friends who visit here that it’s a site not to miss next trip. The ‘Monument’ would be maintained to the utmost and it would show residents and visitors alike that in Dare County…our veterans mean a lot to us…and that they will never be forgotten or taken for granted.
Next, I’d buy a few comfortable coaches (tour buses) and starting with Dare County, I’d request that each school sign up recommended grade level students, parents and chaperones who could take a trip to D. C. Nice accommodations would be afforded to each and all expenses would be met for those who traveled on the two – three day ‘inspiration trip’. The buses would travel FIRST…to the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, next…to the Arlington National Cemetery, followed by each and every war memorial: the World War II Memorial, the Korean War Veterans Memorial, the Marine Corps Memorial (Iwo Jima), the Vietnam Veterans Memorial and then the Holocaust Museum…for starters. Billy said he would add to that itinerary a trip to a Veterans Medical Center. Once each child & young adult in our school system here had participated, I’d solicit for all citizens in Dare County, who’d be interested, to sign up to go and experience the trip as well.
Finally, I’d ask each student and adult to write what their trip meant to them, how they felt about what they saw and how it changed or inspired their life. I’d also ask that each one who submitted their summary suggest methods in our every day life to inspire our youth and our society to love our country more and show special honor to our veterans.
Now…that exercise in imagination is good for brain cells but will not likely come to fruition…we all know that…but when it comes right down to it…it is how I feel and it is what I wish. That’s because every child and their parent too should be inspired or re-inspired to feel real true blue patriotism. Everyone should gaze at the overwhelming number of white grave markers at Arlington National Cemetery and feel compassion for the countless service men and women and the families who grieve their loss. Every one should scan the wall of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial and the love remnants of flowers, pictures and love letters that are left close at hand. Everyone should see our Capital and wonder if they might one day make a difference in this world and at minimum within their communities and even within their own family. Principals, traditions, defense of the innocent and vulnerable, strong in honor to our flag and to our Constitution…united, truly united as ‘One Nation Under God’…I’m ready to pack our bags for a visit north…aren’t you? If we win the Lottery, trust me…I’ll let you know. J
UPDATE: Guess what business has now signed up to offer a discount to Dare County Veteran I. D. Cardholders? Mike Kelly of Kelly’s Outer Banks Restaurant & Tavern is now the 21st local business signed up to support our vets. Isn’t that GREAT? Mike is offering our Dare County veterans and one guest a 15% discount off their entrée! I told you our list would be growing! And as I mentioned earlier…Mike’s 25th Annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade will be held this year on Sunday, March 16th @ 1:00 PM in Nags Head (starting on the Beach Rd. at Bladen St. traveling one mile north to Driftwood St). It will be led (as usual) by the American Legion followed by the V.F.W. and guess what Mike’s Parade theme is this year! Its…”OUTER BANKS HEROES” Welcome All Veterans! Isn’t that t-e-r-r-i-f-i-c? Hip, hip hooray Mike Kelly! Thank you! We can’t wait! American Legion and V.F.W. members get ready!
Also, remember, Wednesday, January 28th 10:00 am – 1:00 pm – Dare Administrative Building, we’ll be issuing the Veteran I.D. Card(s) if you’d like one. Bring your DD-214 (just for us to see) and proof of local address…that’s it! And Billy asked me to please remind you all that the American Legion Fort Raleigh Post 26 (302 W. Lake Dr., Kill Devil Hills – west side by-pass behind T-Tops) will meet again Tuesday, Jan. 28th, 2014 at noon and that lunch is provided. Until next time be happy, be safe, be proud; thank a veteran every single day and by all means folks…stay tuned!