By Marsha M. Brown
This significance of this long weekend far exceeds the highly advertised benefits of sales, discounts and Monday off from work. And…while it’s no exaggeration to say that we appreciate those perks at the check out line…what this weekend really represents is blood, sweat and tears, whispered prayers from sun up to sun set, bad news delivered to families in wait…followed by heartbreak, sadness, countless funerals, empty seats at the table and families that are forever more changed.
This Monday, May 29, 2017 encapsulates the true meaning of sacrifice, valor and the loss of precious lives. Memorial Day is just that…Memorial Day and the reminder of the brave fighters for freedom, protection of the innocent and the battle against tyranny, suppression and fear. Annually observed on the last Monday in May and formerly known as Decoration Day, this very poignant day is set aside each year to commemorate the military men and women who have died serving these United States.
This ‘day’ is to be revered as something to feel deep in our hearts with reverence and respect. Some people honor this remembrance by lowering their flags at half staff but unfortunately many of the old traditions of showing steadfast American pride have somewhat weaned taking a back seat too often to the emphasis on “Buy one, get one half off”; and the fashion ‘seal of approval’ to be officially okay to start wearing white.
America and her people…her brave military men and women who have given so much – far beyond silver and gold…but rather the very essence of life; the beating of their heart and the breath that sustained them. This is a time of pride in our military and the hard stands they’ve had to make in order to protect the most vulnerable. The white crosses that stand side by side, in front and in back of others around them symbolize countless sacrifices – and seeing them simply moves you to tears.
This Monday, we honor, we salute, and we thank those who rest eternally while we also thank their loved ones left behind still fighting the good fight. Our heartfelt gratitude is extended through bold, robust speeches and quiet, whispered prayers for all our military men and women who have passed. We remember…and we feel blessed because of you.
For those who may not know…
Dare County Veterans Service Officer, Rhonda Creef has “left the building”! There are people you meet in life that you know are special…someone you’ll never, ever forget. Rhonda Creef, a respected Dare County employee for 30 years has very recently retired…and she is one of those specialpeople. Her absence is and will be deeply felt not only by fellow County employees and staff but by (in particular) our very appreciative veterans.
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Until 2011, I had only vaguely known Rhonda. I had seen her from time to time over the years at Commissioners meetings, in and about the Administrative Building and at occasional public functions. But it wasn’t until 2012 when my sweetie pie husband Billy, a Vietnam veteran, was encouraged by two other local vets (Clarence Skinner and Clarence Lewis) to check into having an Agent Orange Screening done. At the time, Billy was and had been treated for several years prior for Diabetes II and both Clearances’ thought it might be service connected to Vietnam. Though unsure of any relevance, Billy followed through and contacted Rhonda about the process. When first arranging a time to meet with Rhonda to discuss the possibility of filing a claim, she said she recommended that a veteran’s spouse also attend the meeting if possible, which I did. As I remember, Billy was a little apprehensive about going to see Rhonda that day because it was difficult for him to talk about Vietnam to anyone…period. But fast forward to having done so, having an initial exam at the Hampton V.A. Medical Center in Hampton, VA., it was determined by the V.A. that Billy’s medical issues were in correlation to his ‘boots on ground’ service in Vietnam. Rhonda knew what she was doing, and the paperwork required to file the claim was adequately processed resulting months later in a letter from the V.A. finally granting him disability recognition.
Rhonda’s expertise helped tremendously in the way she explained the process to Billy (and I) and in her sensitivity toward how he felt as a proud veteran who had never asked anything from the V.A. She demonstrated true professionalism throughout the process and as his spouse, I was very impressed. She knew her job and she did it well. Rhonda Creef was exactly what Billy needed. Her temperament was even and while she was very matter of fact, she was kind in her approach to some of the difficult questions she would probably have preferred not to have had to ask.
Rhonda has worked with, beside and for our veterans for 28 years of the 30 she served Dare County. Her shoes will be hard to fill and we will miss her greatly. As citizens of Dare and personally as a Dare County Veterans Advisory Council member, I can say wholeheartedly that we all wish her much happiness in her recent retirement and we look forward to working with her replacement.
On a final note, Rhonda…we know you’re not about attention or fan fare – we know also that you seek no glory for yourself and that you never have – we know that your greatest joy comes from your son and your family, but just know one more thing my friend, you’ve been a blessing to many and your good work has altered many Dare County lives for the better. We will never forget you…not ever. God bless you always.
Until next time…be happy…be safe and be proud. You…our mighty veterans, active duty and those who aspire to yet serve our great country…we thank you and we love you all! If you wish to contact me, call my cell (252) 202-2058 or write to me at [email protected] As always, stay tuned!