By Marsha M. Brown
It goes without saying that loyal, patriotic Americans embrace this special time of year on Memorial Day weekend as just that…very special. It is of course not just a day off from work – with or without pay…and it’s not just an earmark to the beginning of summer, picnics or parades. What it really is – and should be to all of us is a solemn reminder of the men and women who have died while serving our United States military.
The depth, width, height and scope of Memorial Day cannot be measured. It embodies the deep pride and heartfelt remembrance of those we have lost. It reminds us of what bravery and sacrifice is; it conjures up visions of bloody Civil War battlefields and the beaches at Normandy where bodies of our brave American warriors laid. Its another page in the history books that teaches us about loyalty and our salt of the earth military men and women who faced death in the jungles of Vietnam, the mountains of Korea and Afghanistan, the deserts of Iraq and depths of the oceans blue…no matter the setting…our fighting military did it for us…they lived…and they died…for us.
This weekend is special. Memorial Day is a day to hold dear…a day to remember when our men and women in uniform lost their life…but also a day when those who loved them…also lost a part of theirs. Its reminds us of broken hearts, beds that went cold, grown sons and daughters loved so much yet never to be held or kissed again. It is a holiday of respect where you stand at a monument or memorial in total silence…and reflect.
This weekend especially, we must consider the fear of battle…even for the strongest, fittest and most aggressive soldier. And we should never forget countless hands clasped in prayer and knees bent at a bedside offering prayers to our Almighty asking for safety and favor and the homecoming of a loved one from war.
During these next few days we’ll see the up side of the holiday too…and we should! We’ll see American flags waving; we’ll watch TV programs about Memorial Day and our nations history; we’ll smell the yummy aroma of steaks, hot dogs and corn on the cob sizzling over hot outdoor BBQ grills; we’ll see smiles and hugs exchanged between those who love each other; we’ll hear laughter in the air…and we ought to…after all, we live in a free country…we live in America…the greatest of all countries…the United States. We should celebrate that blessing…that honor…that privilege that we can cook out, assemble together as friends and family…and as active or former military.
Monday, Memorial Day…separates the men from the boys and the women from the girls. Stop…and r-e-a-l-l-y think about it the word ‘Memorial’ and what the day means. And when the grills have cooled down and the paper plates are tossed and the ice has melted…give thanks to our heroes. Thank God we have the blessings that we have because our men and women have laid down their life for us. Tell your children and grandchildren about the meaning of sacrifice and love of country and the immeasurable love for a ‘brother’ or ‘sister’ comrade. Say thank you to those who wear the uniforms that represent each branch of our armed forces; remind yourself and those around you that our VA hospitals are full of our heroes who paid the price to serve and whose life is altered and perhaps changed forever. Think of what they saw, heard and engaged in first hand. Soldiers and sailors and airmen willingly followed the orders that were given – no matter the difficulty…they carried them out…for the good of mankind and for the safety and stability of our country…they, our fallen heroes…and all who serve are who we give tribute and admiration to on this day.
Determination to see their assignment through, our heroes were compelled to face their fear head on…make way through dark tunnels, deep caves, dense jungles, and on the wide open beaches knowing their chance for survival was limited at best. They are who we celebrate and why we remember this day.
This Monday is the day to stand side by side, shoulder to shoulder with other red blooded – true blue Americans and honor the military men and women who died during their military service. The places you can meet greet and thank our veterans and their family members are again as follows:
9:00 A.M. – Southern Shores Cemetery – Dogwood Trail (past Kitty Hawk Elementary)
10:00 A.M. – Austin Cemetery – Kitty Hawk Village Rd.
11:00 A.M. – Manteo Cemetery – 300 Cemetery Rd.
11:00 A.M. – Nags Head Town Hall – 5401 South Croatan Hwy.
11:45 A.M. – Manteo Memorial Site – Downtown Manteo, Old Courthouse location
12:45 P.M. – Kill Devil Hills Memorial Site, Veterans Dr. (off Colington Rd.)
Please note: if I have failed to mention other services in Dare County, it was not intentional. And if you hold a memorial service on Memorial Day weekend annually, please write or call me so that I can include your schedule in future GIG LINE columns.
Many veteran events will be forthcoming between now and mid November this year on the Outer Banks. Please stay abreast of them and attend whenever possible. Also, if you know a veteran who is physically challenged please take the time to offer to take him or her to one or all of these services. That one act of kindness will no doubt lift them up and make them (and you) proud.
Also, over this weekend please take the time to look for opportunities to help our veterans by donating to The American Legion Fort Raleigh Post 26 and The V.F.W. Outer Banks Post 10950 at their (Poppy) booths at local business sites. You’ll see the veterans and the American Legion Auxiliary ladies who will offer the little red Poppy flower in exchange for your donation. The artificial flower will be a sweet keepsake that you cared, that you helped and that you showed it. And don’t forget children also enjoy the opportunity to pitch in and get their flower too!
Lastly, think about stopping by the ‘Post’ when it’s manned between the hours of 10:00 A.M. – 2:00 P.M. Monday through Friday. The Post is located at 302 W. Lake Dr., Kill Devil Hills west side of the by-pass behind T-Tops. There you will meet some pretty awesome veterans who’ve notably served our country willing to answer questions, refer you to our veteran service officer, provide you with applications to join the American Legion and V.F.W. (if you’d like) and to just thank you too for your service! If you wish to call at other times and leave them a message, make note that their new phone number is: (252) 715-4251.
This is OUR American holiday for remembrance, pride and honor. Take the time to think about it…really think about it and embrace it. Our United States military is our backbone…please helps keep it healthy. Show our men and women the respect they have earned and they deserve.
Until next time, be happy, be safe and be proud. If we can be of help, you’re welcome to email me at [email protected] Billy is a Vietnam veteran; he’s a member of The American Legion Fort Raleigh Post 26; The V.F.W. Outer Banks Post 10950 and Junior Vice Commander and he’s a member of the Fraternal Order of Eagles. Both of us serve as members of the Dare County Veterans Advisory Council and we, like many, care about you. Please contact us with questions, suggestions or feedback. God bless you all on this Memorial Day. Stay tuned…