By Marsha M. Brown
Whenever I write GIG LINE, I consider all things ‘veteran’. I think about things I’ve heard, read or observed that might bring new light, positive influence and/or will encourage more interest, honor and respect to those who have served. But before I get into the primary subject of this writing, I’d like to tell you about something that struck me this past Tuesday when I was watching the morning news.
Like everyone else, I had seen the tornado coverage over all the channels and I had cried. I cried for those who had lost family members, young and old…and for those who had lost their homes. I couldn’t help it because I know what it feels like to lose a home unexpectedly.
In 1988 we lost our beautiful old home that my paternal grandparents had built in 1936 due to a fire. It was the home I had always wanted to raise our children and grandchildren in…it was a home that we had prayed for. What the old house represented to me was my Papa Dan and Mama Coot’s home, my Daddy and Mama’s home where my sister and I had grown up and it was one of many special answered prayers in my life. You see, Daddy had signed the house over to my sweetheart Billy and I in January 1987 maintaining his life time right only months before he passed away in April 1987. Following his passing and having assessed the much needed repairs, we obtained a loan to address the necessary renovations. Not long after we completed the bulk of the updates: new roof, new front porch & back deck, new carpet, new paint…etc., etc. etc. our beautiful castle burned in March 1988. Our lives turned upside down.
My heart ached for the Oklahoma family’s shock, disbelief, loss and grief. We wanted to be there to give out water bottles, serve make shift meals or do whatever we could to console and comfort the broken hearted. I remembered what it was like to lose our home, a structure of wood that encased the heart of our family. I felt for the families in Oklahoma and yes it is after all just ‘stuff’, not the loss of life. But to anyone who has never lost a home, I can tell you that the grief is very real just the same.
During that particular Tuesday morning newscast, the commentators were discussing the scattered personal belongings and their concern over one specific item the devastating whirlwind had left behind. It was a tri folded American flag still in tact laying on what had been the fireplace hearth. The men stood there and looked at it then at each other and commented that the owners would want that flag. It was a cherished keepsake and they were concerned about leaving it there in the wide open air afraid that the family it belonged to might not find it later when they returned. They said they had contemplated taking it to a safe place to preserve it until the family it belonged to could be located to return it to. Imagine that…in two hundred mile per hour winds…and a tightly folded U.S. flag was still there determined not to be moved…at all….period. And by the way, per the Betsy Ross Home Page Resource (online) under “Flag Folding Ceremonies: When our flag is completely folded, the stars are upper most, reminding us of our national motto, “In God We Trust.” “After the flag is completely folded and tucked in, it takes on the appearance of a cocked hat, ever reminding us of the soldiers who served under General George Washington and the sailors and marines who served under Captain John Paul Jones who were followed by their comrades and shipmates in the Armed Forces of the United States, preserving for us the rights, privileges, and freedoms we enjoy today.”
Then…it came to mind again…our loss and how we felt after flames had destroyed our loving place. It wasn’t bad enough that we had just renovated our old country style home but also that my Mother’s ashes were still in there when it burned. She had made it clear to the family that she wanted to be cremated but Daddy had never been able to bring himself to scatter her remains over the ocean. Then, the remembrance of the one item we found among the ruins left still in tact in the midst of blackness and surrounded by ashes came to mind…it was our family Bible. Imagine that…pages in tact so much so that you could pick it up and start preaching from it right then and there. To all the families, in Oklahoma our prayers are with you.
By the time you read this, you’ll no doubt be looking forward to next Saturday, June 1st when our annual Dare County Dare Day event takes place in Downtown Manteo. If you’re a veteran or if you know one, please ask them to visit the Dare County Veteran’s Advisory Council booth. It will be worth your (or their) time to find it. At the booth information on obtaining a DARE COUNTY VETERAN’S I.D. CARD will be made available. The “CARDS” are a first for Dare County! They’ve just arrived, are brand new and folks they are b-e-a-u-t-i-f-u-l!
The “CARD” will be available free of charge to veterans and in turn, it will promote the businesses who honor veterans. For questions about the “CARD”, you are invited to email the Dare County Veteran’s Advisory Council at [email protected] or you can write to me through [email protected]. There will be an update regarding the “CARD” in this coming Tuesday or possibly Thursday’s The Coastland Times about how to obtain one and about the businesses willing to honor veterans who frequent their businesses. I will also reference the ones already on board who will offer a discount for their goods or services as things progress. Also, I hope to have a picture of the “I.D. CARD” so that you all can ‘see’ progress ‘in the works’.
Lately, veterans throughout Dare County seem to be more interested and involved in matters that relate to them specifically. According to what some veterans have told me recently, they’re beginning to feel more pride about their service and they are grateful for anything and everything folks are doing.
Thank you for reading GIG LINE. If you have questions, I invite you to call me: (252) 202-2058. Until next time, hug each other, thank the good Lord for your blessings, and find ways to help someone in need. And when you see somebody wearing a hat or T-shirt that indicates he or she has served our country…please pay attention. Notice them. Remember their sacrifice…if you don’t…who will?
Be happy, be safe, be proud and thank a veteran…they deserve it more than you know.