By Marsha M. Brown
Yesterday, November 10th was a beautiful day, not only weather wise with mild temperatures and sunny, clear skies but because it was a day in which the Monarch Beach Club of Dare in conjunction with Sandy Pace and her staff at the Dare County Center in Manteo, hosted a memorable VETERAN’S LUNCHEON which as usual was well attended.
For anyone who may not be familiar with ‘Monarch,’ the information I retrieved from a search explains the mission of the organization is to provide “individualized services for people with intellectual disabilities and mental illnesses as well as support and counseling…” and what an excellent job their staff does in Dare County!
What I especially appreciated was the day about nine years when my Vietnam veteran husband came home and proudly announced he had just heard that our local ‘Monarch” group were planning an event to celebrate our veterans for Veteran’s Day. Billy was proud they wanted to plan somethings special for our veterans and moved too because he had a precious little sister ‘Heidi’ who was affected by Down Syndrome and while little Heidi passed away at the age of six, his love for her and the sweet spirit and fondness she felt for everyone she came in contact with always resonated with him. He recognized the depth of her innocent affection for their church family, thinking nothing about hugging strangers or talking to them aisle by aisle, pew by pew during their Daddy’s church sermons. Billy loved everyone too and carried a tender spot in his heart for anyone with mental challenges or disabilities, so when the ‘Monarch’ group here wanted to honor our veterans in such a distinct way, he was moved beyond words. From that point forward, we both attended their annual event until he passed in 2016; since then I attend each year in which I address the attendees as Dare County Veterans Advisory Council, Secretary. I typically discuss the free Dare County Veteran Discount Card that the Council created to entice our veterans to contact us – providing us a chance to thank them for their service and sacrifice; to tell them about pending veteran events and to encourage them to consider talking with Patty O’Sullivan, Veteran Service Officer about any military service-related medical concerns, conditions or illnesses. Yesterday, Patty graciously announced the requirements and potential benefits of determining V.A. claim eligibility; filing the claim and she offered her sincere desire to help any veterans who had questions or who wanted to meet with her. Often our veterans are NOT aware that some medical problems they deal with each day could be service connected.
The staff at the Dare Center is always so hospitable, helpful, and eager to ‘serve’ the veterans and loved ones who attend. To the Monarch group, Sandy & her staff, and the contributors to the event…THANK YOU ALL SO VERY MUCH for honoring our veterans! You celebrate our heroes, and we celebrate you too!
When it was my turn to speak, I announced the dependability each year of the good things we experience at the luncheon…wonderful hospitality, great food, and of course as usual, I choked up…I always get to the podium, look out at all the folks in place and I tear up. I always tell them all that I love them (whether I know them or not) because I do…and then I briefly speak about my honor to be there. I mentioned yesterday that I had just seen my sweet Billy’s picture on the screen where service men and women who have submitted a picture in their uniform runs over and over before the start of the event and how it always chokes me up. My voice was quivering…not because of nerves or fear of addressing the public…I’m used to public speaking but because my arthritic knee hurt so bad to stand there, I was literally quivering all over. I should have taken some Tylenol prior to arrival but didn’t and I had even considered not attending at all because it was a ‘baaad knee day’ but hours before I needed to leave home to arrive on time, I considered how much this event had meant to Billy…how blessed he felt being in the company of brothers/sisters and how much it would have disappointed him if I had not attended; spoken about our Veteran Discount Card and just taken part as usual. So, I hobbled out the door (no big deal), in the grand scheme of things…a bad knee doesn’t come close to the pain and suffering our vets have endured and ‘by hook or crook’ I decided to be there if I had to crawl into the door.
Our Dare County Board of Commissioners, Chairman Bob Woodard, a veteran himself, addressed everyone about the value of our veterans, their contribution to our nation and our world and as usual he spoke eloquently. I was so proud of him and thankful that he, several other Commissioners and Dare County Manager, Bobby Outten were also in attendance. I was happy to see that even with their busy schedules and commitments, they made the time to be there to honor our veterans and their families. In addition to our local dignitaries a representative of Senator Thom Tillis, Mr. Trey Lewis, was also there to read a letter from Mr. Tillis in praise of our veterans as he was unable to attend due to Senate hearings.
The gathering was special, as usual, the food was delicious, and the musical entertainment provided by the band, ‘Riff Tides’ was enjoyable to say the least. They played the old tunes from the 60’s, military branch theme songs and it was fun…because the tunes brought back a host of happy memories!
A Veteran Discount Card was issued to one veteran and Patty and I, the only two people who issue the Discount Cards, were both asked by veterans about acquiring one later…overall it was a nice, patriotic day celebrated by all. I knew too that if my Billy could see anything from Heaven, he would be happy too!
You know, I learned a lot yesterday, I observed the smiles of veterans who greeted, hugged, or sat with veteran friends; the spirit of patriotism throughout the room and the joy and pride on the faces of Monarch personnel who were as sweet and generous with their great gratitude as possible to everyone. Again, they reminded me that their enthusiasm and respect for veterans was a clear indication that those of us who fail or refuse to show our patriotism, loyalty to our flag and our Constitution as written are perhaps the ones with mental challenges.
Until next time…thank you veterans for your service…for being you…our heroes every day. Be healthy, safe, and proud…and happy because you sure deserve to be! Patty’s number: (252) 475-5604 or write: [email protected] – my contact info: cell: (252) 202-2058 or write to me at [email protected] Also, read stories archived in giglineheroes.com if you’d like. I love you all…I wish you and your families well and God bless you! Stay tuned!