By Marsha M. Brown
Folks, if you’ve always read GIG LINE, thank you. If this is your first time, thank you too and please spread the word. GIG LINE is an inspired column written from the heart and dedicated to veterans everywhere, especially those who live in Dare County. The column may make you laugh and sometimes even cry because I sure do when I’m writing it, but its purpose is to remind us all that we have what we have, do what we do and are who we are because of privileges and opportunities afforded us through the battles, past and present service and sacrifices of our veterans.
A few years ago when Billy and I attended the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall in Washington, D.C. not only did we see a seemingly endless black granite wall of the names inscribed of men and women who died serving our country in Vietnam or who are still Missing In Action but we also saw a statue of three men called the ‘Three Servicemen Statue’ or the ‘Three Soldiers’.
In essence, the statue is a symbol of soldiers watching over their fellow comrades in arms. The first and only time I have seen it, I was struck…I stopped in my tracks and stared…I looked at it and what it represented and I was moved beyond words. Its composition impressed me as very realistic looking, strong and dependable and a definite reminder of the ‘brotherhood’ of Vietnam Veterans. It made me think of the strength our service men and women had to muster to even survive. It was a fitting symbol of what I feel Vietnam Veterans wish to do even this day…to look out for each other.
The purpose of organizing the two upcoming March events specifically dedicated to Vietnam Veterans is to promote remembrance of sacrifice, valor and jubilance once it was over and to honor the family members who waited for their loved ones return. It is a time that some of us in the public, can say, ‘thank you’ and ‘we’re sorry’.
I’ll never understand how under any circumstance, even one single American could have shown such disrespect to our returning service men and women. To think there were people who disagreed with the war is not unimaginable but to know that our soldiers who stepped off the bus, plane or train and were actually spit at or worse…is unbelievable. The men and women who had already endured so much were called names…horrible names and made to feel ashamed. How? How could that have happened?
I’ve seen and heard testimonies on the History Channel when veterans were interviewed and they recapped their experiences in Vietnam. I’ve heard them talk about their anticipated return to American soil and their elation about coming ‘home’ after enduring Hell only to have been greeted with hatred, ugly words and rejection. I’ve watched as they fought back tears and finally broke down finding it hard to even speak. I’ve heard and observed first hand, up front and personal, Vietnam Veterans right here in Dare County talk about their fight for survival there and the sadness and shame imposed on them by many. Dear Father God…what they deserved was cheers, applause and welcome home celebrations to beat the band. What we should have given them was lots and lots of hugs, even to complete strangers who had returned home.
I was seventeen years old when I fell madly in love with my Vietnam Veteran Billy. While he was in Vietnam serving in our U.S. Army, I was not his wife or even his girlfriend. We were friends and I attended his church but nothing beyond that until after he came home. I think God planned it that way. I would have had a really hard time worrying about him being there and I would have had a horrible time dealing with mean spirited people who professed ‘peace’ and ‘love’ and hurt the man I love along with so many others the way they did. As usual God knew what was best for me.
Following the end of Desert Storm, I heard a radio interview that Ken Mann conducted with a young returning soldier. During the course of their conversation, Ken asked the young man questions about his experiences and the impressions war had made on him. To my surprise, and what stood out the most was that he explained that he had come to respect Vietnam Veterans more than ever before. The young man referenced the great contrast of how Vietnam Veterans vs. Desert Storm veterans were being treated upon their return to the United States. He was sincere and respectful in the way he described his feelings to the point that I broke down. The tears poured from my eyes and I wished I could have hugged and thanked him myself. It was nice…it was so nice. I knew my sweetheart, Billy, being at work already, had probably missed his words of praise and respect. When I got to the office, I called the young soldiers Mother and thanked her for raising a good and thoughtful son. I told her how much it had meant to me to hear him praise Vietnam veterans like my husband who had been through so much and that I was very grateful.
The Vietnam War was many moons ago, yes and there have been many wars and conflicts over our United States history that have broken many hearts in one way or the other, changed lives, in some cases influenced alcoholism, drug abuse and dependency and affected the veteran in one way or the other. But…we still have a chance in our life time to stand up for our veterans…the ones who served in World War II, Korea, Vietnam, Afghanistan, Iraq and elsewhere and for our veterans who have stood and still stand for our country, our freedoms and our liberties every single day. We should stand for them; we should never cease showing them our respect, love and gratitude for the things they have had to endure.
We hope to see you all, every one of you who can come to show your support of our Vietnam Veterans at the K.D.H. Commissioners meeting and again at our picnic on the 30th. To date, I have contacted by phone almost 30 local Vietnam Veterans who were happy to hear about the events and each indicated their plans to attend if they were in town. Our guys (and girls) are worthy of much overdue attention and praise. It will be an ideal time to enjoy your lunch with some pretty awesome heroes and to show your children and grandchildren respect for our veterans…no matter what they’re asked to do or where they’re asked to do it. I hope to see you there!
Again, thank you for reading GIG LINE and please write to me at if you have questions or comments. Until next time, be happy, be safe, be proud and thank a veteran! Stay tuned…
Several very special events will take place this month that you should mark your calendar to attend if at all possible. In doing so, you’ll not only be inspired yourself but no doubt you’ll inspire others.
First, it you remember in the last GIG LINE, I mentioned that in Mike Kelly’s upcoming St. Patrick’s Day Parade on Sunday, March 17, 2013 – 1:00 PM, the American Legion Fort Raleigh Post 26 will lead the parade, so please cheer BIG and LOUD as the veterans pass you by…some will be World War II veterans and it would mean a lot to all of them!
Also, Vietnam Veterans especially two events are coming up that are dedicated to you specifically!
First: Wednesday, March 20, 2013 – 5:30 PM in the Kill Devil Hills Town Hall at 102 Town Hall Dr., (2nd left off Colington Rd.) where you are asked to attend a respectful acknowledgement of your service in Vietnam. ‘Your’ recognition will take place early in the meeting and prior to scheduled Agenda business. Veteran Moncie ‘Punk’ Daniels, Lt. Col. (Ret.) U.S.A.F. will offer a brief address acknowledging your service. If you have a Vietnam Veteran T-shirt or hat, please wear it. If you wish to wear one but don’t have one, you might want to check with Red’s Carolina Outfitters (formerly Red’s Army Navy) at the Kitty Hawk Plaza MP 4.5 west side by-pass in Kitty Hawk.
Secondly: Saturday, March 30, 2013 at 12:00 Noon, you are invited to attend a very informal, Vietnam Veteran & family picnic to be enjoyed also in Kill Devil Hills at Aviation Park (off Veteran’s Dr. accessible through Mustian St. or Town Hall Dr.). The picnic will be a first of its kind and everyone is asked to bring their own family lunch & non alcoholic beverage. Also, if you have a favorite foldable chair to sit in, please bring it also. The picnic will be open to the public to anyone who wishes to come, bring their lunch and thank a very deserving group of men and women. If the weather is not desirable for outside activity, an indoor location in very close proximity will be available. Please come and spend time with old friends, class mates and neighbors who also served in Vietnam and establish new friendships with your fellow comrades. Perhaps next year our second annual Vietnam Veteran picnic will be greatly enhanced once we see the interest and attendance this first year.
Contact the Editor
Marsha M. Brown has been writing a weekly Gig Line since 2012. Marsha is the widow of Vietnam War army veteran Billy Brown of Manteo, NC. She was instrumental in establishing the Dare County Veterans Advisory Council and maintains an active role in the veteran community. You can reach Marsha with questions or suggestions at [email protected]. Have a story to tell or a veteran to feature? She would love to hear from you!