By Marsha M. Brown
Blessings come to us in many different ways. Sometimes we can see or hear a blessing…like when our newborn baby or grandchild opens their little eyes to see light for the first time; sometimes its when we hear good news that someone we love has made it through a difficult time; sometimes its when we find out that someone truly deserving has received an answer to prayer; sometimes it’s when our service men and women come home and stand on American soil after deployment to a scary place. In my way of thinking, blessings are frequent, countless and often times ‘We the people…’ are blessed at times we least expect it.
On April 19th I was blessed when someone I had never met before emailed me through [email protected]. When I opened the communication, I found a very sweet and touching email from Mr. Elmo Hassell, Commander of V.F.W. Post 10659 in Columbia, N.C. His letter was both complimentary and endearing in that he described his appreciation for GIG LINE and how he, too, could identify with the column I write especially the one I had just written the week before. You see, Mr. Hassell is also a Vietnam veteran like my sweetie pie Billy.
Commander Hassell went on to write that he had been subjected to some of the same things Billy and other Vietnam vets had but that he too had come to terms with it, moved forward and beyond those experiences and that he was “proud to be a vet”. He explained further that he wondered if I would be the guest speaker at their Memorial Day service Sunday, May 25th at 8:00 AM in Columbia.
His electronic message expressed his appreciation for those who have “a love for our country and our veterans”. His words were precious to me and the honor (this time) was mine…an unexpected blessing. As I continued to read, his words which hugged my heart. Commander Hassell described that this event was the “most important thing” they did “all year” and I sensed his deep pride. I could picture the dedicated men and women of Tyrrell County sitting together early in the morning and of course I wanted to be a part of it. I knew I would feel the honor too of just being amongst them. I knew that once I accepted his invitation, I could look forward to another veteran related event to cherish. I knew I’d probably tear up and maybe even cry a little…not because I’m unaccustomed to speaking in public…been there…done that lots of times over the years. But Memorial Day is such an extraordinary time of remembrance; it prompts us to remember the brave men and women who have died while serving in the United States Armed Forces; it’s a time of extended grieving even for those we never knew personally…but we didn’t have to know them personally, we only have to know that they were part of someone’s family who were loved and missed and prayed over and cried for once they were gone…not just away…but forever. We only have to know they were soldiers and sailors and airmen who no doubt felt uncertainty, fear and heartache and that…for us…for you and for me…they laid it all out there on the line with no exceptions.
This very special holiday when American flags are placed at the Arlington National Cemetery gravestones, they will also be placed on countless smaller but just as important veteran tombstones across the U.S. And that grand patriotic symbol of our nation will say to those remains beneath…that we…as a nation…didn’t forget them…that we honor them…that we thank them and that we love them.
In the coming weeks, through GIG LINE I will remind readers again of the value of that day and to be mindful that the traditional holiday of Memorial Day is for reflection, gratitude and honor of those who died while serving our country. And…that it is not to be confused with Veterans Day which will take place this year on another federal holiday, Tuesday, November 11, 2014 when Veterans Day is of course the day we honor all who have or currently serve.
I will remind everyone that one way to thank our veterans is to volunteer to help place flags on the graves of those who have served, to attend special events and to support our local Chapters of the V.F.W. and the American Legion especially in the weeks to come. When you see their booths offering the little red Poppies scattered about throughout our communities, please don’t avoid them…they enable you to donate only if you would like to and if you are able. And if you can’t its OK, just stop anyway to say ‘thank you’ to a veteran. Besides…the little red flowers aren’t for sale…just like there can be no price on the life of an American soldier who has laid down their life for the rest of us.
Immediately following that special email from Commander Hassell, I responded accepting his invitation and thanking him. Our last brief conversation was over the phone about the scheduled itinerary for the service and at that time I could hear in his pride at not only our country but in serving his fellow comrades at V.F.W. Post 10659. Yes, I look forward to meeting Mr. Hassell at which time I’m sure I’ll hug him and thank him again.
Speaking of the V.F.W. my Billy who is the Post Service Officer of our V.F.W. Outer Banks Post 10950 along with the Quartermaster Jim Norrell, recently attended a District meeting of the V.F.W. in Sunbury, N.C. at which time both veterans accepted additional responsibilities with the V.F.W. Mr. Norell was asked to assume the position of District 1 Judge Advocate and Billy the position of District 1 Jr. Vice Commander. Congratulations gentlemen!! And if you read GIG LINE last week, our local Post which houses both the V.F.W. and the American Legion Fort Raleigh Post 26 (located at 302 W. Lake Drive, Kill Devil Hills directly behind T-Tops) you’re aware that it is now ‘open for business’ Monday – Friday from 10:00 AM to 2:00 PM. Please go by there folks! Stop and see the fellows who are there for YOU. If it’s been a while since you were there you WILL see changes! They now have a 55” flat screen TV with cable, a land line telephone and a computer with Internet access! Hot dog! And…drum roll please…if you’d like to obtain your Dare County Veteran I.D. Card, just take your DD-214 showing HONORABLE discharge with you on Wednesday(s) and good Lord willing, Billy will be there to issue your ‘Card’. In addition to that, you’ll also receive a listing of veteran related monthly meeting dates/times and a list of all the places you can realize a discount on goods and services across Dare County as a local veteran I. D. Card (holder). Please consider that the members of both respected organizations are dedicating their time at the Post to welcome you, invite your membership (if you’re interested) and to extend their appreciation for your service.
Newsflash! Every day (except Sundays’) between now and Memorial Day, members of the Dare County Veterans Advisory Council will contact business owners for commitments to pledge discounts for our veterans. Please keep abreast of GIG LINE over the coming weeks for new business participation updates.
In closing, thank you to all of the veterans who have shown interest in obtaining their Dare County issued Veteran I.D. Card – the most recent being five vets in Buxton last week. We hope you’ll be proud to present it to the clerks, cashiers or servers at the participating businesses and in turn receive acknowledgement and a discount too. And folks, please tell others about GIG LINE…it isn’t about fishing…it’s about the best of the best…our veterans.
As always and in the meantime, please call us if we can be of help. Know that we are only a spec amongst countless people who care about you, your family and your sacrifice having served the greatest nation on earth during peace and war time. Our veterans are our heroes and as the days in May pass by think of Memorial Day. Embrace the little but very significant red Poppies that you see offered here and there and involve your kids and grandchildren in the process. Until next time be happy, be safe and be proud. After all…you are an American and you just can’t be better than that! Stay tuned.