Thank you Veterans for giving us a reason to celebrate our nation’s Independence every July 4th. Thank you for the sacrifices you’ve made fighting battles on the ground, in the air and over seas protecting us and defending the rights we as Americans often take for granted. Thank you for all the times you were separated for long periods from people you loved in order to serve us all. Thank you.
By Marsha M. Brown
This past week was remarkable for several reasons. The day before our nation’s celebration, we learned the sad news that Andy Griffith had passed away. Over time, like many locals, I had opportunities to see or speak to our celebrity and friend. Whether at the grocery store, the Island Pharmacy or at the stop light, he seemed to be on a mission to get his task accomplished without fanfare or special attention. Years ago Andy booked a fishing trip on Daddy’s in shore charter boat “Playboy” and Daddy was so proud he waited weeks before he cashed his check. It was nice seeing him from time to time and to know that he loved Manteo and Roanoke Island along with the rest of us for all these years.
GIG LINE is devoted to Veterans, but in each column I try to incorporate the value of ‘tradition’. The heart of Andy Griffith’s television shows were centered on families, traditions, friendships, challenges, forgiveness and faith. The programs were funny and you could always depend on him and his fellow characters to resolve a problem as amicably as possible. It’s undeniable the old program tapings are more golden than black and white.
On Wednesday, July 4th we received a call from Clarence Skinner, U. S. Air Force Major Ret., former Commissioner and friend recently appointed as the first Dare County Veterans Advisory Council, Chairman.
We came to better know Clarence while working with him on the program “ A Salute to the Our Veterans & Armed Forces” last November hosted by Manteo First Assembly Church. When we asked Clarence to emcee the program, he eagerly embraced the chance so he could be a part of honoring our men and women in uniform. He welcomed bringing attention to all of our Veterans – active, retired and reserve. Since that time, we’ve come to appreciate him even more on a personal level realizing his sincere patriotism, dedication and commitment to serve the needs of Dare County Veterans especially.
Clarence had called to tell us that upon going outside early that morning to begin his daily walk, he heard voices. He couldn’t see anyone or understand what they were saying or even detect where the voices were coming from due to the trees and shrubbery around his residence. But determined to find the source, he investigated further to realize it was in fact people he knew from his beloved Mt. Olivet Methodist Church. He told me that once they saw him, they said “we’ve been caught”. The couple, a little boy and another lady had been busy placing 114 little American flags across the front of his property. He said they had explained they just wanted to show their “appreciation” for what Veterans had done for our country. Clarence was surprised to say the least for the loving act of kindness and during their conversation he came to realize they were doing the same for other Veterans as well. One of the ladies explained the flags had belonged to her father, who was a very dedicated Veteran. It was a sweet gesture and their act of respect was shown beyond Clarence’s yard. It was shown to her father and to all of our Veterans everywhere. It meant a great deal that they would do something so thoughtful for him and others and he felt blessed. He further explained that they had also placed a big red, white and blue ribbon on his mail box as well (pictured). He said he planned to collect the flags at sun down and return them to his good friends. Perhaps they will display the same love and honor to another Veteran who has served our country again next year.
Thank you Clarence not only for your military service but for the work you’re doing today in support of our Veterans. What happened at your home undoubtedly touched the friends who performed the act of respect toward you but also your family for having such a special honor bestowed upon you. It also meant a great deal to others who have heard about it. And to the lady whose Daddy was also a Veteran, he was a good man for serving our country and for inspiring her to always respect and celebrate Veterans. So, whom evershe may be, we thank her too!
Remember the movie “Pay It Forward”? It was a great movie about a little boy who decided he would do a good deed with the hope that others would again carry it forward to others and on and on. What they did as a family that day for Clarence was a “Pay It Forward” moment in time. It was an inspiring way to show honor to those someone who sincerely deserved it.
This year it seemed the fireworks displays and celebrations both locally and on TV were more robust than ever! Is that possible? Or was it my imagination? I hope it was because we’re celebrating that we are the best country in the world and that anything short of believing that is not up for discussion! Maybe it isn’t politically correct to say, but if so many people over all these years have been drawn to come to our United States of America, by whatever means it took to get here, why then, do so many people seek to change it? Why do people want to amend our way of doing the things when so many Veterans gave their life in order to preserve it and what we’ve historically cherished? Why? Times have changed to be sure but like Andy Griffith’s TV shows it’s all about the preservation of faith, family, freedoms and ‘the American way’.
For those who don’t typically watch the “oldie goldies” because they’re just that, please consider taking the time to tune in if you get a chance. You may be inspired to thank our Veterans more often and stand up for ‘tradition’ as we have known them. You may hold dear many of the old ways, the old times and the very foundation of these great United States of America.
If you have a story about what the Fourth of July meant to you this year, please write to me at [email protected] and include a contact phone number and I’ll be happy to share it. Until next time, be safe, be proud and stay tuned…