By Marsha M. Brown
Everybody who reads GIG LINE knows that as a writer I’m long winded. Maybe so but when it comes to our veterans, I can never say enough.
To this ‘ole girl everything has everything to do with our veterans. From the time I get up in the morning to the time I go to bed, I think about all of you. The wheels in my head turn at full speed and if I’m not thinking about what I want to write, I’m thinking about what I’ve already written. During this past week, I came to ‘feel’ the old saying…”It takes a village to raise a child” and another one being “No man is an island”.
In the late summer 2011, inspiration literally came from heaven to dig in, research and help bring to light the greatest wealth of Dare County. You see, in addition to the peace, tranquility and undeniable beauty of the Outer Banks…our greatest wealth is in something beyond that…not in gross sales or tourist dollars but rather because we have such a large percentage of local veterans to boast about who live, work and worship right here with us every day.
Veterans of the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard & National Guard are all around us. Veterans who made serving our country their career; who enlisted for shorter periods and who were drafted…are all heroes. Many veterans having been raised in our quiet little Outer Banks towns and villages away from violence and destruction who went to war quickly realized up front and personal the value of life, the importance of security and the blessing of freedom. Empty arms far from loved ones, facing the unspeakable, and suffering the scars of combat that most of us will never know…men and women service members, gained military experience on all levels to protect and defend us…every single day they live among us.
Through writing GIG LINE over the past two years and through constant work with veterans, I’ve come to know our real ‘wealth’. I’ve heard words spoken that encompass our veterans pride and I’ve also heard the pain in their voices too that echo the experience they struggle every day to forget. Heartfelt stories come to me sometimes at a brief encounter, sometimes at a veteran event…sometimes through an email or phone call. Our veterans are our greatest treasure folks and we’re blessed to have the opportunity to know them. Each veteran I’ve come into contact with has touched my heart. Maybe it’s the look in their eye when they recall an old Army buddy or when they talk about having “had each others back”. Maybe it’s when a father named Gary reflects on what it means to him to hear his son Noah (who chose not to go to college but rather to enlist in the
U. S. Army) say that he had no friends in boot camp…no friends at all…they were all ‘brothers’…that’s when you feel it. You feel it when that same father is so proud of his son that he could burst when he tells you he’s going to pick him up at Fort Bragg to walk beside him in the parade this weekend…both as veterans…one older and more seasoned in life and one younger…brave and determined to commit to making our world (even with all its worries and uncertainties)…a safer place to live. The realization of American pride like that can’t help but make you smile. Like my sweetie pie Billy, a Vietnam veteran, who is also proud of Gary’s son said, “He’s just beginning his journey!”
Upcoming special event: Hatteras Island Veteran Support Group is hosting a “Flag & Memorial Dedication” at the newly established Veterans Memorial Park, Saturday, March 21st (rain date Saturday, March 28th) 1:00 pm at the Hatterasman Drive In, Hatteras Village. All are welcome to attend for a brief ceremony by the recently erected flag pole on the property adjoining the restaurant.
Some time ago I wrote in GIG LINE about a meeting I had had with the owner of the restaurant, Frank Miller and that he had a goal to establish a veteran’s memorial on his own to honor our veterans…not just Dare County vets but all who visit Hatteras Island too. Now let me tell you some things about Frank and what makes him so passionate about having a special place for such specialpeople…our veterans to come, reflect and to remember.
Frank is a 20+ year veteran of the U. S. Army. Per his resume’: “Senior Intelligence and Security Expert for International and US; Government, Military, NATO, Coalition Forces and Private Business; Senior Strategic Intelligence Mentor/Advisor for Afghanistan’s National Military and Civilian Intelligence System; Expert in Foreign Intelligence Organizational Development with Continuing Mentoring, Advising and Training/Education for Senior Military and Civilian Leadership…Directing and monitoring Program Expenditures, Operations and Personnel”. The copy he provided to me of his six page military experience and history went on to include: “Instructor for Intelligence Support to Force Protection/OPSEC/Irregular Warfare/Homeland Security Operations and Analysis (Civilian and Military) (DIA), “Strong Inter-Governmental, NATO and Inter-Agency liaison experience”…and there was so much more. Goodness!
Frank is the real deal and his summary of experience will ‘knock your socks off’ but in addition to his attributes and accolades, my first impression of Frank was his pride in country, our military and each individual service member. If you have served our country and if you (in turn) would like to express gratitude to Frank for his service and for what he’s done to honor all of you, please take the time to drive to Hatteras Village next Saturday to meet him and other veterans in attendance. Also, while you’re there you can acquire your Dare County Veteran I. D. Card as well – but you must bring your DD-214 showing Honorable Discharge and your local Driver’s License to get one…that’s it!
More good news! Our veteran friend and go-getter Tim Willis has been at it again! His quest to help the Veterans Advisory Council acquire more local businesses to sign up and offer discounts to all veterans who show their Dare County Veteran I. D. Card was productive again this week having just signed on two more popular Nags Head businesses: Sam & Omie’s Restaurant and The Dunes Restaurant! Yippee! Hot diggity dog! Go Tim!! J Isn’t that wonderful? Come on folks…get your own I. D. Card at the American legion Post 26 meetings and the V.F.W. meetings each month as well as on Monday(s) from 11:00 AM – 2:00 PM at the Dare County Administrative Bldg., Rm. 142, 954 Marshall C. Collins Dr., Manteo and save some money! Kudos Tim!
Coming soon! Big celebration earmarking the 25th Anniversary of the V.F.W. Outer Banks Post 10950 this coming April 25th! Mark your calendars for a memorable fundraising event that will include yummy food, live music, a raffle, an auction and MORE! It will be an event you won’t want to miss…trust me! Specific details are in the works…so keep reading ‘GIG LINE’ for updates!
Finally…to everyone who helped arrange transportation for our vets so they could participate in Kelly’s OBX Restaurant & Tavern – St. Patrick’s Day Parade this weekend God bless you all! Seriously, there are major supporters of veterans in Dare County and they deserve sincere thanks. Thank you all for jumping in and helping find adequate transportation to meet the needs of our WWII and aging vets who were unable to walk the Parade route…you made it possible for the most deserving! Thank you from the bottom of our heart! (You know who you are!) And thank you too to Mike Kelly and Mary Ann for providing the Parade that everyone looks forward to each year!
Until next time, be happy, be safe and be proud people! We’re citizens of the most outstanding country in the world! And…we have the best military known to mankind hands down! We’ll be expecting you at these upcoming Parades and fund raising events because it takes us ALL working together for the best result…we need each other! If you are in need or if you know of a veteran who needs help in some way, please let us know by calling me (252) 202-2058. You know the drill…as usual stay tuned and God bless!