By Marsha M. Brown
It’s typical that during the month of December I organize the annual craft show at our church but this year things changed somewhat and rather than one show in late November – early December, I organized two shows both in November.
The first show held on Veteran’s Weekend was a first for me because usually I’m involved in veteran related activities but this time a need was met for another craft show organizer from a different venue, so especially with it being Veteran’s Weekend, I thought it would be nice to offer the opportunity for veterans to come and obtain their Dare County Veteran Discount Card (formerly known as Dare County Veteran I. D. Card) and I’m so glad I did!
Over those two days (Fri./Sat.), I had the privilege of greeting veterans both of whom I knew and veterans I had never seen before and issue their Card. I got to shake a lot of hands and review their DD-214 to verify Honorable discharge. It was such a joy to talk with them, hear about their service experiences; learn the branch they had served; what war or conflict they had endured and to also meet their spouses, girlfriends, children and parents too. I was also thrilled to meet a female helicopter pilot and our brief acquaintance reminded me of the greatness of women in our U. S. Armed Forces and the tremendous achievements they had accomplished through the years to our betterment. No question…military women are awesome on so many levels!
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Several of the vets who came in talked for a while…some being familiar with GIG LINE, others who had never heard of it…but all so wonderful. A few times the ones who read my column said they felt they personally knew my ‘sweetie pie’ Billy, though they had never met. And I’m here to tell you that each one of their stories…their history…were important to listen to. When I would notice their wife squeeze their veteran husband’s hand or put her arm around his waist when the love of her life talked about war…it touched my heart and my eyes became full.
Then, only weeks later…our second craft show was held on Thanksgiving weekend – a time our nation collectively offered gratitude for our blessings. It also afforded a chance to display our vendor’s outstanding talents; help our church outreach ministries and again, welcome veterans to get their Card.
Just about the time I was gleaming having issued about 15 Veteran Discount Cards…who walks in the double doors but this spry well-dressed man who you knew immediately was a proud American veteran! And guess who? It was that remarkable U. S. Marine Corps veteran I had written about in my last column! It was Lee N. Baronet! Bless his sweet heart! That 100% Marine (through and through) whom I had only recently spoken to on the phone had driven over to introduce himself and to acknowledge my writing about him and his precious, petite “Greek goddess” wife Becky the week before. My eyes filled with tears the minute I knew who he was because the only conversation we had ever had not only encapsulated his pride in our U. S. Marine Corps but mostly about his one true love…Becky.
Now folks, I’m here to tell you…though Becky is in Heaven now (along with my true love Billy) she made a major impact on this gentleman’s life! Not only had he told me how tiny she was, he had also shared that throughout their marriage she had chosen all of his clothes (aside from his uniform of course) to make sure he looked his very best at all times…he talked like she was quite the fashionista and with great joy and love, he put her on the highest of pedestals which she no doubt deserved.
We sat there a few minutes and chatted amidst the busy craft show atmosphere and I was tickled to be able to put a face to the voice over the phone; I was proud to look him in the eye and personally thank him for his service; his l-o-n-g service to our country and I was proud that he was a man that eagerly shared how crazy in love he was with his sweet little wife whom I would never meet here on earth. Suddenly, a friend of mine who helps me with all our craft shows jumped up and took a picture of new friends with one unique and very special bond…the love of our spouses – with us now only in our memories and dreams…always and forever.
I appreciated that brief meeting in a busy setting and I hope to see him again to hear more about his military history and his enduring love for Becky. At whatever point in time we meet again, I asked if he could bring two things for me to see…a picture of he and his true love…Becky together and one of him in his uniform. If and when that meeting occurs, I will write once more about Lee and Becky because while Lee served as a Marine, she served at his side and honorably as well. She must have been a peach and I wish I had known her and that I could tell her all about my hero…Billy. All too soon, the spiffy Marine who looked much younger than his 80’s ordered his fried chicken dinner to go and out the door he went headed for home.
For the duration of the show, more veterans came in…more wives who so clearly love their spouse…came in with their favorite veteran to get the Card. Several were Vietnam veterans and because the hours were narrowing down I had a chance to spend more time talking with them, talking about the need for all Vietnam veterans who had served “boots on ground” to have an Agent Orange Screening done…not only because an illness or condition they currently have could have initiated in Vietnam but for the sake of their spouse as well.
More than one couple grabbed my heart when we talked about Vietnam and about Billy after years of marriage… (46 yrs. and counting at that point) before he ever joined a PTSD group. The Vietnam veterans I met that day had obviously shared many of the experiences Billy had…and one I believe from Maryland or Virginia had seen it, heard it, smelled it and felt it. I shook his hand, not once but three times while they sat at my table…then we hugged each other…this stranger minutes ago and his precious wife had ‘been there and done that’ too and I hope to see them again…maybe at next years craft show that we’ll hold on Fri/Sat, Dec. 11/12, 2020…good Lord willing.
Until next time…be happy, be safe and be proud you wonderful people you! Love each other, love our country, think about the goodness in America…the good and mighty people of our U. S. military…remember this is the season of giving…and if you can find a vet who would like a nice, home cooked meal or who would enjoy your Christmas lights please spread the love. And just know this…no matter who much I say it…or how weird it may sound coming from a stranger…I DO love you all…because of the love our Lord put into my heart many years ago. If you’d like to write to me via email: firstname.lastname@example.org or call my cell: (252) 202-2058. Y’all take care and stay tuned!