By Marsha M. Brown
Sometimes when I start out writing my column, I want to jump right in and tell you something neat or cool or unforgettable but then I collect myself and remember the order of my prayers which is to first thank God for all He does for me before I ask him for anything else…even if what I’m asking for is…for somebody else.
And while this isn’t a prayer I’m writing, its still a good time to say ‘thank you’ to Mike Kelly of Kelly’s Outer Banks Restaurant & Tavern for dubbing his 25th Annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade theme this year ‘Outer Banks Heroes’. It goes without saying that a tremendous amount of work and expense goes into a project like that and the result is always that kids and adults alike enjoy the opportunity to play dress up in their green attire, hats and beads and have fun celebrating the holiday. And this year…well, it was extra special because many participants also dressed up in their red, white and blue too!
As it happened, I was set up a Dare County Veterans Advisory Council table in the first tent behind the restaurant ready to seize the moment and talk to every veteran I could see. I hoped to issue some Veteran I.D. Card(s) or at least talk to vets about getting a ‘Card’ at a later more convenient time to bring their DD-214. And…I was in great company that day too. My sweetie pie was in the parade as a proud member of the Outer Banks V.F.W. Post 10950 and Lynda Hester, fellow Veteran Advisory Council member and her loving husband Frank, both retirees of the U. S. Coast Guard, had a table set up beside me also where they had stacked fresh Dunkin Donuts, hot coffee, hot cocoa and bottles of water to give to veterans, their family members and anyone else that wanted some. The time I spent with Lynda prior to the parade crowd arriving gave us a chance to exchange ‘girl talk’ and with each conversation we have I learn more about their extensive family history of veteran service members. Over the last couple of years I’ve come to know them both as devoted parents, new and proud grandparents and faithful servants of the Lord. It’s obvious they each love our country and enjoy the privilege of honoring our military families. Clarence Lewis, Chairman of the Veterans Advisory Council and Commander of the American Legion Fort Raleigh Post 26 that lead the parade and his sweet wife Ruth were also there with us.
After the folks starting filing in from the mile long parade, they worked hand over fist disbursing cups of steaming Joe and talking to veteran families about the opportunity to obtain the discount Veteran I.D. Card. It was a great day on Sunday and the rain that followed the end of the parade (thank goodness) dampened no one’s spirits at all. Folks of all ages from the tiniest to the most mature came into the tent wearing great big smiles and sometimes green hair, mustaches and eyebrows which made for a really good & fun day!
Tradition is a big thing to most of us I’d say and anyone who reads GIG LINE (even some of the time) has read my frequent references to yesteryear and how golden many of our American traditions are…or perhaps better put…should be! So in the weeks to come I’ll be writing about our memorable traditions…just to remind us all that sometimes even the smallest effort can bless a veteran’s heart…like removing a hat or placing ones hand over their heart when veterans pass by…things like that.
Guess what? We have now officially reached a total of 300 Dare County veterans who have obtained their ‘I.D. Card’ and if you could see me now…I’m practically standing on my head with joy! And…some of the business owners have expressed that the ‘Card’ has helped increase exposure and patrons to their establishment and veterans who have used their ‘Card’ tell us often how much they appreciate the privilege to use it, save money and be acknowledged as having served our country. Isn’t that great? Hot diggity dog!
Update: People across Dare County are jumping in more enthusiastically than ever to see how they can help support you, our brave men and women veterans. That makes us not only grateful but extremely proud. Organizations like the Dare County Arts Council through the dedicated efforts of Executive Director Chris Sawin and his really gifted staff accelerated their efforts by creating exceptional projects over the past year in which veterans were celebrated and honored. And…not only that…but they even shared 50% of the proceeds from the Carolina Veterans Weekend Concert proceeds held last November 2013 with the Dare County Veterans Advisory Council in excess of $1011.00. What a blessing that was! Thank you Chris and everyone who worked with you to initiate, organize and follow through with that help. You all are truly awesome!
GIG LINE has covered a lot of topics over the last year and a half but there are tons of subjects I still want to write about for example: women veterans and their outstanding service to our country; professional military musicians who play the beautiful patriotic songs that make us stand up and cheer; veterans who suffer from PTSD and depression; an update on the new Greenville VA Health Care Center that opened officially this month and the veteran women’s medical facility in Hampton, Virginia and a host of other things.
With the not too distant Memorial Day and Fourth of July holidays fast approaching, I’ll include reminders about flag etiquette, traditional shows of respect when we hear our National Anthem and God Bless America played at special events etc. I need reminders and I’m going to write them as much for me as for all of you. We need to keep sacred the honor our veterans are due. We need to teach our children and grandchildren that our way of life was earned through tears, sweat, blood, sacrifice and separation from loved ones…elements not to be taken lightly. We need to show our best to the best…the men and women of our United States military…including active duty, retired, drafted, enlisted or reserve…they are all incredibly special people and worthy of our daily praise.
Until next time, we hope to see you on Wednesday, March 26th at the Dare County Administrative Building (Courthouse complex) Manteo between 10:00 AM – 1:00 PM to give you your Veteran I.D. Card but remember to bring your DD-214 just for us to see showing HONORABLE discharge and proof of your local address. That’s all it takes! In the meantime, be happy, be safe and be proud…of our veterans. Take the time to acknowledge them in public by shaking their hand or golly gee…just hug them like I do! It will make you both happy! We truly love you all. Thank you for reading GIG LINE and stay tuned!